My Catchphrases

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Saturday Spotlight: Guest Post: Linda Newbery: Libraries are a Gift


It is my pleasure to welcome Linda Newbery to Book Angel's Booktopia this week to talk about the influence Libraries have had throughout her life. Over to Linda:

I loved libraries as a child (and, of course, still do). The branch library in an Epping side-street, long-gone and replaced by a bigger one, is clear in my memory; I remember the hurry to get there after school, the exhilaration of finding a book I specially wanted, and the crushing disappointment if I couldn’t find it.

In those days, most library novels were jacketless and with plain or textile-patterned covers that belied the excitement of what lay within their pages. I remember hoarding one particular book, renewing it over and over again because I couldn’t bear to part with it. The library was more than a mile from home, and I used to walk along the High Street reading my latest find, occasionally falling off pavements or bumping into lamp-posts.

An author I particularly loved as a child was Monica Edwards. Her books can hardly be found nowadays, except as collectors’ items and a few titles that have been reprinted, but I often come across people of around my age who remember her with great fondness. She published more than forty books; with the help of librarians and request cards, I worked my way through the lot, reading all of them more than once. Monica Edwards was one of the authors who gave me my ambition of being a writer, and the books she wrote – the Romney Marsh series, and the Punchbowl Farm stories – were a big influence on the kind of writer I wanted to be. Most of her plots seem far-fetched now, but the characters and settings will stay with me for ever. Monica Edwards was brilliant at depicting the natural world - weather, atmosphere, seasons, animals and birds. She was also a pioneer environmentalist, writing about subjects like factory farming, oil spillages and the plight of wild animals long before they featured in public consciousness. Many of my own books – The Shell House, Set in Stone, and my latest title Lob, for younger readers – depend strongly on a sense of place. More often than not, it’s setting and atmosphere that give me the starting-point for a new book. A large part of that stems from my childhood experience of not just reading Monica Edwards’ books, but feeling that I lived in them.

I owe so much to libraries. From an early age I learned the pleasures of browsing and choosing, the joy of a chance find, the discovery of a new author I loved. It would be tragic if today’s children – and today’s future writers – had these gifts taken away from them.

We should be immensely proud of our free public libraries. Let’s keep them.
Linda Newbery, April 2011

He’s older than anyone can tell. Older than the trees. Older than anybody.
For as long as she can remember, Lucy has wanted to catch a glimpse of the mysterious green man who lives in Grandpa Will’s garden: Lob.
You have to be very special to see him; that’s what Grandpa says. Lucy’s parents think Lob’s just imaginary, but Lucy knows he exists. And she can’t believe it when she finally spots Lob in the gooseberry bushes.
But Lucy’s world is about to be shattered by a terrible event. What will happen to Lob now – and will she ever see him again?

Paperback on sale 2nd June.

1 comment:

  1. Such a great guest post Emma! Libraries really are a gift. I remember loving mine when I was younger. I never visit it now though, because it only has Greek children's books (and I don't really enjoy reading in Greek as much as I do in English). But I remember the excitement I used to feel when I found a book I really wanted to read. I usually sat down and started reading it on the spot (even though the library is only a 5 minute walk from where I live). I think I'm living in the wrong country...!

    PS: I love Linda Newberry!! I remember reading The Shell House years and years ago. I think I was quite puzzled at the time (as it is a rather forward thinking book) but I have read it more times than I can count. A couple of years ago, I rediscovered her with Set In Stone. She really does know how to set an atmosphere. Thank you Linda.

    And thanks again Emma, for this lovely guest post you organised!


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