Books Inspire Books (and their authors)
By Keith Gray
Books make writers. Here’s the proof: ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾’ by Sue Townsend.
Perhaps, if I’d kept a diary when I was 13, it would have read something like this…
19th February 1985
13 today! Richard’s given me a book and reckons I’ll enjoy it. I’m not impressed.
Richard’s asked if I’ve read the book yet. I said I got a Raleigh Burner off my mum and dad. It’s got mag wheels. Bikes are better than books.
What Richard doesn’t understand is that we don’t read books at my house. OK so Mum has some gardening magazines and Dad has a motorbike manual, but that’s it really. Books are for school. You do them like times tables.
First day of the summer holidays. It’s raining. I’m stuck inside. Nowhere to go anyway. Wish I was still friends with Richard. My bike’s got a puncture and Dad says I’ve got to learn how to mend it myself.
Wow! Seriously. Richard’s book, ‘The Machine Gunners’ by Robert Westall, is ace. Totally skill. Everything I’ve ever read at school had questions or tests at the end but this was just normal. I phoned Richard and he was really cool about it, only saying ‘I told you so’ twice. I’m going round to his house later because he has more books to lend me. I’ll have to walk.
This summer I read ‘Stig of the Dump’ by Clive King, ‘The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler’ by Gene Kemp and ‘Grinny’ by Nicholas Fisk. I told our new English teacher, Mr James. I was hoping he’d be impressed but he got all teacherly on me, started asking about characters and themes. I said I liked them because they were ace, not because they were homework. He said I didn’t understand what he meant. I said he didn’t understand what I meant. Dad’s mad I never mended my puncture.
As a 13¾ present Richard’s given me a book about a boy called Adrian Mole. Looks funny. Dad says he’s pleased I’m reading so much but I must do other stuff too.
Can you believe a book is real? Can you forget you’re reading? Can you think it’s not all made-up, not all fiction, and totally believe a character is a 100% living, breathing person. I keep looking out of the window thinking I’m going to see Adrian and Pandora wandering down the street. I wonder if we’d be friends.
So this is it, I’ve decided, I want to be a writer. I want to create characters people believe are real. I want to write stories people forget are fiction. I told Richard. He said maybe I was turning into Adrian Mole. Which worried me. A little bit.
Dad says he’s never, ever going to buy me another bike again. I said I’d rather have a typewriter this Christmas.
Sunday Writers' Club Team Member and Author
Keith is an author from the UK best known for his award-winning novels for children and teenagers. He’s published over 20 books which have been translated into a dozen languages and has edited 2 anthologies of short stories for Young Adult readers. His novel ‘Ostrich Boys’ was adapted for the stage and played to sell-out audiences in such far-flung places as Birmingham, Seoul and Mumbai. He’s traveled to book festivals all over the world promoting reading, writing and literature to teachers, teenagers, parents, librarians and anybody else who’d listen. You can find out more about Keith on the Sunday Writers’ Club “About” page here.