The shape of stories

David Almond and Viviane Green

Photo: James Royall

Friday 23rd January, 2009 | Posted by Caroline Graty

‘Sometimes I wonder what is an adult book and what is a children’s book, and I’m not sure’, says author David Almond. Almond’s children’s novels tackle complex themes using beautiful spare language, strong characters and a touch of humour. Judging by the number of adult fans who came to hear him talk about his work with child psychotherapist Viviane Green, age is no barrier to enjoying them.

Almond talked about the influence of his Tyneside childhood and his Catholic upbringing on his writing, and his struggle against preconceived ideas of what a ‘northern writer’ writes about. He also discussed his fascination with the shapes and patterns of stories. ‘One of the things I like about being a children’s writer is that closeness to really basic elemental storytelling, which is to do with the voice, the sounds of words on the air. It’s not even the meanings of them, but the beat of words going into someone’s head and into their soul.’

He described writing as a process of letting go, almost an altered state of being. ‘When you’re writing well you don’t really control what you’re writing about. People say “Why do you write about the things that you write about?” Well actually you can’t make a decision about it, your subjects come and get you.’

To hear more of the conversation, visit the event page.


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