A guest post by David Almond

winninglogoOn Saturday November 9 David Almond will take centre stage at 11 am in the Birmingham Conservatoire as part of our Festival of Children’s Literature.

When we started planning the Festival, over a year ago, we took our cue from the building in which it is taking pace -a place where music is the life blood of the building – and decided we wanted to build a Festival around stories told in and inspired by all different art forms. We wanted links with music, drama, art and more.

When we realised that in 2013 David Almond would be celebrating 15 years of his seminal book, Skellig, we knew he would be perfect for our Festival: Skellig has been adapted for opera, theatre and film and so who could be more perfectly placed for exploring storytelling across the Arts than David?

To give you a flavour of what’s to come David wrote us this short piece over the summer.

“It’s summer in Northumberland and the sun is shining down. Hadrian’s Wall stretches away to over moors and crags to the west. I can hear the North Tyne flowing over its weir a quarter-mile away. Lunch in the garden – sardine sandwich (delicious!) and tea. The house martins dash in and out of their nests under the eaves. Alfie, our daft black rabbit, scuttles through the plastic tunnels in his run.”

“We up here have just been told by a Tory peer that we live in a place of desolation. The shortlist for the Eleanor Farjeon Award is announced today, and I’m on it. This morning I did the final final edits to The Tightrope Walkers, the novel that’s taken up most of the last year and has sometimes been a monstrous struggle. I’m off with another, Eurydice Grey, which is flowing nice and easy. Every novel has its own shape, its own demands. You never really know how the writing’s going to be. Tomorrow I’ll take delivery of 800 copies of the beautiful 15th anniversary edition of Skellig to sign and send back to the lovely folk at Hodder Children’s Books.”

“15 years! Who’d have thought it? Skellig was a novel that came almost like a dream. I never really knew where it was heading and what would happen next. Until I started writing it, I’d never even thought I’d be a children’s writer. Just shows that life takes weird turns, just like stories do. Best not to define yourself too tightly nor to plan your life too closely. The book came with a life of its own and has continued to spread its wings and fly. Flew all around the world, has become a radio play, a stage play, a movie, an opera. Maybe it’ll take another surprising flight soon. Who knows? I’ll be talking about Skellig and its various metamorphoses at the FCBG Festival. Really looking forward to that.”

“I finish the delicious sandwich. I’ll go back to Eurydice Grey and write about kids falling in love on beautiful Northumbrian beaches. The house martins will fly until dusk, feeding their chicks. I give Alfie handful of dandelion leaves. “What do you think about it all?” I ask him. He hesitates, then launches himself like a mad thing over his favourite purple plastic tunnel.”


You can buy tickets (£5) for David Almond’s session at the Festival here, or in person in Birmingham at The Box (in the brand new Library of Birmingham).

2 responses to “A guest post by David Almond”

  1. Clodagh Corcoran says:

    What a lovely piece of memoir. I remember the publication of Skellig so well. I bought it to read, and then read and re-read in a lather of excitement at discovering such beautiful writing. And that was the first of much such discoveries from your subsequent books. Thanks for all the pleasure.