Qu: What is a Children's Writing Ambassador and what do you do to promote it?
My role as Children's Writing Ambassador is mainly aimed at encouraging young people to get involved with the Worcester LitFest. This includes promoting the Young Writers competition that takes place every year and has involved going into schools to carry out workshops on the theme of the competition. I absolutely love reading young people's writing. Every year, I get an incredible thrill in reading the entries because they are always fresh, imaginative and brilliant. We also publish as many stories as possible in an anthology and listening to the young people reading their stories at the book launch is one of the highlights of the year.
Qu: What types of books do you write?
My first book, The Roman Citizens from Class 6B was utlilised as a resource in a primary school in Malvern, Worcestershire, in 2016. It is a fantasy story in which the main character draws pictures that come to life. It is set in both modern and Roman times.
Qu: What's your favourite story that you've written?
Max & Luchia: The Game Makers will always be very special to me for lots of different reasons. I really felt as thought I'd got to know the characters and as the story progressed, I was cheering them on and hoping for the best. I know I was writing it but sometimes, stories do have a habit of taking on their own identities, don't they?
Qu: Do you illustrate your books or get someone else to do it?
I've asked others to illustrate the covers before, but Max & Luchia: The Game Makers is the first one in which there are illustrations throughout the story. These were created by Seraphim Bryant, a friend from university who is now studying for a Masters in illustration. Together, we have also become 'The Story Knights' in that we dress up as Knights and tell stories at various schools and storytelling events.
Qu: When did you start writing and did you always want to be an author?
Apparently, I did write lots of stories when I was at school. I then stopped and picked it up again about 10 years ago and have written almost every day since. I also completed a degree in Creative Writing (and English Literature) as a mature student in 2018 in an effort to improve my writing.
Qu: Have you had other jobs other than being an author?
Lots. I've mainly worked in front line roles - sales, customer service and in my twenties, I worked in a ski resort for three years, however, writing is very much my focus now.
Qu: What's been your proudest moment as an author?
I used to think that being published was my main motivation but now, any time a young person tells me they enjoyed reading one of my stories is twenty times more important. Being given the opportunity to visit schools and talk about reading and writing always makes me feel proud too, especially when I was asked to become a Patron of Reading. Individual moments include receiving a recording of one of my poems by a class of pupils in Dresden and hearing that a girl had dressed up as Luchia (from Max & Luchia) as their favourite character on World Book Day.
Qu: Which book has made a lasting impression on you?
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Although they are based on fact, there is something incredibly magical in the writing and I was thinking about the stories and the characters for weeks after I'd read the last page.
Qu: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I enjoy singing and belong to a local contemporary choir and this is where the photograph came from when I played the part of Davy Jones from the Monkees. I also enjoy photography and find this a great way to free my mind to think about stories. It's great for the fresh air too!
Qu: What advice do you have for our young scribblers?
In giving advice to a writer, J K Rowling has been quoted as saying "Write the story as well as you can, revise it, refine it, and if it still seems alive to you, you're done." Young people have an incredible imagination and their plots, characters and settings are always amazing. Even so, an idea for a story is just the beginning and the magic will occur in the thinking, researching and re-crafting until everything about it is the best it can possibly be. When I wrote Max & Luchia, it took me 28 drafts and it was only when I was the changing the odd word or comma that I knew I had finished.
A second, and probably more important piece of advice, would be to read as much as they can. Not only will it enhance their writing, it will also give them an idea of the story they would like to write. I didn't read my first book independently until I was in my twenties and regret this. I did read as part of the school curriculum, but absolutely wish I'd read more books for pleasure as I'm sure this would have improved my writing.
For more information about Kevin and his books and poetry go to https://kevinbrooke.com/