That boy spent 92 days in the condemned cell watching that door before he was reprieved. I hope we can agree that torture of that kind shall never again be inflicted in Britain. Find out more about our upcoming events with Simon Armitage, Hanif Kureishi, Lavinia Greenlaw and other leading literary voices.
Conford analyses the growing influence of food processing on standards and the rise of processed organic food, which purists still see as an oxymoron. The debate has real relevance for a society where diet-related disease threatens to undermine healthcare. But of all these books, it is the one I should least like to be without. It is available from the Guardian Bookshop. Facebook Twitter Pinterest. Topics Farming Top 10s.
Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. TRT: What is your favourite dragon that exists only in literature? AS: Probably Tomas because he has a pretty over-active imagination — but also because he is open to the wonder of the world and notices the little things — like a moldy looking fruit that someone else might have thrown away! I like to try and find a little bit of magic in the ordinary mundane things.
TRT: What first attracted you to writing? Did you enjoy writing at school? Also that what I had created was just mine, a secret — when I was younger I very rarely showed my writing to anyone. So it was a safe place I could invent, experiment, be brave, tell the truth, make stuff up and be wildly unlike myself all at once.
And the fact that the writing we did always had to rhyme.
I also had a wonderful English teacher who encouraged me to write ALL the time. TRT: Which parts of writing do you find energise you and which parts do you find exhaust you? I might be trying to have some down time and the story keeps rushing to get out. At this point I write in any snatched moments, although those moments tend to run away with me so I end up burning a lot of dinners — or just forgetting to cook parts of the meal!
When the euphoria passes though I can feel shattered. About two thirds of the way through a first draft I often flag. By then I tend to know the story and where I want to take it.
Ballad and the Plough: Portrait of the Life of the Old Scottish Farmtouns
There are less surprises. To keep writing can feel exhausting. But as I plough on I usually get a second wind. I guess my writing process is a bit boom and bust! TRT: When you were a child, can you remember contacting any authors or them ever visiting your school and if so, did this inspire you?
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AS: The only time we ever had an author visit was when I was about fourteen and my English teacher arranged for Roger McGough to come to our school. He was cool. They broke rules and played with words in a wicked way. To meet him — and have my English teacher introduce me afterwards and tell him I wrote too — was pretty amazing.
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The other thing that stood out for me was when I wrote to my absolute hero, Douglas Adams. I had started writing what would probably now be called fan fiction. So I wrote to him to ask if he would mind! I had the loveliest letter back from him and he made me feel like a proper writer — he also told me the title to his next book before it had even been finished.
I still have that letter.
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AS: I think there is a lot more focus on upturning gender stereotypes. Most recently, I think Vashti Hardy does this brilliantly in Brightstorm. Having those books would have made a huge difference to me — I generally got frustrated with the girls in the books I read and only felt I recognised myself in the daring adventures of the boys. But then we have also loved seeing books like Cogheart, with the quieter and more sensitive Robert. TRT: Could you suggest ways that your book could be used in the classroom for the many teachers that will read this?
I have to admit that having trained as a teacher I can see so many ways of using the books in class — dragons do make a fab topic! There could also be links to geography, finding out more about the amazing dragon-fruit tree, which originally comes from Mexico, but is now grown in many places around the world. Plus it could be tied into a topic about how things grow. It is rather magical — with its vivid tendrils and huge white flowers that only bloom for one night!
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And testing them out of course! But there are lots more things I can see myself adding as time goes on. I hope that beyond the obvious — come on, dragons just are awesome — there are also messages in the books about friendship and family and seeing the good in people and even living mindfully, keeping our eyes open to the magic around us, all of which I hope will offer some talking points.