Top tips from Nicola Davies for children who are authors in the making…
We caught up with children's author, Nicola Davies to get some top tips and little school secrets to help inspire young writers around the world.
What’s your top tip for budding young authors?
Look. Notice. Your senses are your first tools as a writer and your job is to see things clearly, to understand them better and to explain them in ways no one has before. Keep a notebook, draw in it and write in it. Build your ability to describe all that’s around you all you hear and see. Stories are like patchwork, your notebook is the pile of material from which you can cut bits to make your story. Don’t think that writers find writing easy. We don’t. Anyone who tells you different is lying or not very good.
What was your absolute favourite book as a child?
When I was really little Winnie the Pooh. I woke up this morning thinking of it. I love the humour and the language. The way words and sentences are constructed is so original and funny and warm. ‘Flying, what birds do” is what I thought of today, Pooh commenting to himself as he falls out of the tree. It still makes me laugh but it also says something true about how our brains work in a crisis. Older, I loved The Lord of the Rings - I LIVED those books and imagined myself into every scene.
If you could live as a character from one of your books, who would you be and why?
Oh the characters in my books have jolly difficult time! So it’s hard to say. I think either Zaki in Walking the Bear or Gentle in Rubbish Town Hero, for two reasons. Zaki is brave but lacking in self belief, but bin the end he goes for it and becomes the person he wants to be..which is a musician - which would be my other life choice. Gentle because she is simply a wonderful person, much better than I am or could ever be.
What book inspired you to start writing?
Poetry made me a writer, loving words and how they sound and what they do. So my dad reciting keats to me as he shaved in the morning when I was a kid, that’s what really made me a writer, then later my mum buying me a book of Dh Lawrence poems; his animal ones are amazing. I hold the images that they created in my heart still.
Did you spend most of your time in detention or getting gold stars at school?
Both. I got pretty good marks for most things except maths and french but I was often in trouble for being cheeky and talking back. I was never afraid of standing umm to teachers - if they did something I thought was unfair in any way, I’d tell them. I hated it that people had power just because they were older. I respected teachers who were good at their job or were really good quality humans, but I never respected anyone simply cos they were my teacher. So that got me into a LOT of trouble.
If you had a super power what would it be and why?
Oh tricky…flying with eagles or being able to swim to the bottom of the sea, and hang out with dolphins. Can’t I have both?
View some of Nicola's children's books below:
All Aboard at Silver Street Farm
It's summer at Silver Street and all the animals are getting very hot and thirsty. The three children who run the farm - Meera, Gemma and Karl - decide to hold a competition to see who can come up with the best scheme for getting water to the farm. The solution surprises everybody!View Book
Crowded Out at Silver Street Farm
Silver Street Farm is in the middle of a town. The lambs refuse to stay in their pen, the pigs are restless and the chickens have set up home in the office. There's not enough space for all the new animals, but Meera, Karl and Gemma can't bear to say goodbye to even a single guinea-pig.View Book
Stabbing and strangling, poisoning and drowning, electrocuting, exploding, dive-bombing and even death by glueing. Throughout the animal kingdom, creatures great and small have evolved to become masters of murder: from dive-bombing peregrine falcons to exploding carpenter ants, from electric eels to spitting cobras.View Book
The moment Dolphin Baby pops into the blue, he swims up, up, up... and takes his very first breath. From then on, the baby calf swims close to his mother's side, discovering all there is to know about life under the sea. Dolphin has lots to learn including making new friends, and catching his first fish, whistling...View Book
The Elephant Road
One night, Wilen is woken up when his hut is tipped sideways by elephants! Uncle Denngu urges the villagers to sell the land to a mining company who will cut down the trees and get rid of the elephants. Wilen fears that all is lost... until he hears about a scheme that pays local people to plant trees and look after them.View Book
Frozen Solid at Silver Street Farm
It's winter and the residents of Lonchester are struggling against the Big Freeze. The ice on the canal is half a metre thick and there are snowdrifts two metres high! Meera, Karl and Gemma are delighted; school is closed which means they can be at Silver Street Farm all day.View Book