We live in interesting times, Barry Cunningham asserted at the inaugural Hampshire Writers’ Group meeting on Tuesday 13th September 2011. Difficult not to nod agreement at that.
The electronic revolution means writers and publishers must pull together, not apart, he added. No problem – how could I not want to work with a man whom Barbara Large first met dressed as a giant friendly Puffin?
Although he admitted publishing was an unlikely cross between librarianship and gambling, the publication of children’s books has a serious purpose. The writer is ‘the secret friend of children’ to quote Cornelia Funke. We are there for them on the bus, we are them when they’re bullied, we are there when life is too much – we provide other worlds to escape to, other ways of being.
His aim is to reach out to the bookhuggers, to connect with the emotional world of children’s reading – and so is ours.
How can we do this?
Our use of story, humour, credible dialogue, precise physicality and – food. Children have not changed since the Narnia books on that front. Kaye Webb believed you could tell one big fib – and after that the rest had to be consistent. Nothing to disagree with there.
And where to find the source?
Write for your inner child. That means reaching deep inside yourself to excavate the truth – and a great deal of trust in your editor.’Your family won’t know you as well as I do.’
Well, Mr Cunningham, I am up for that.