Actor, comedian and bestselling children’s author Ben Miller answers questions about the power of imagination and the importance of reading books aloud. Ben writes classic family-friendly stories which delight adults and children alike. His third children’s book, The Day I Fell Into a Fairytale is a story about the special bond between siblings, and the power of believing in magic. Only in coming together can good defeat evil in this feel good family story.
1. Your latest book, The Day I Fell Into a Fairytale, is all about stories and the power of imagination. Where did this idea come from?
I’ve been writing a story for each of my children, basically. My first book, The Night I Met Father Christmas, was for my oldest son Jackson; the second, The Boy Who Made The World Disappear, was for my middle son Harrison. This one’s for my daughter Lana. She loves Alice I Wonderland, so I wanted to write her a portal story. Basically she finds a trapdoor to the world of fairytales in the Pick ’n’ Mix of her local supermarket, and to save the day she needs Harrison’s help.
2. How do you include your own children in your writing process?
I use them as guinea pigs! But in a nice way. I read it to them as I’m working, to gauge their reaction. And then I try everything out on them; the title, the illustrations (always by Daniele Terrazzini, a truly gifted artist), even the cover art. I do everything I can, basically, to ensure that they won’t sue me when they are older.
3. You read the audiobooks for your books, does this effect how you write your books?
Yes I love reading aloud. It’s the actor in me, I guess. I don’t think there are many better ways to spend time with your kids than reading to them. So it’s really important to me that the books are written to be read, if you know what I mean. Something can look good on the page but be very hard to read aloud, so I do my best to avoid that.
4. Why is it so important to have stories read aloud?
Good question! It’s the modern version of an ancient human activity, isn’t it? We used to huddle round the campfire to entertain each other with stories. Now we gather beside a bedside light. Why do we do that? To forge a vital link between the brightly-lit rational world of the conscious mind, and the dark irrational world of the unconscious? Or to wind the kids down so they fall asleep? A bit of both, probably.
5. What were your favourite books to read aloud when you were a child? And which books do you enjoy sharing with your own children now?
My father read to me right up until I was a teenager, and I plan to do the same with my kids. I loved King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table, especially the story of Gawain and the Green Knight. Lana and I are reading Alice in Wonderland for the umpteenth time, and Harrison often hangs around in the vicinity, earwigging. I love that.
The Day I Fell Into a Fairytale by Ben Miller out 1st October (Hardback, Simon & Schuster)
Any opinions expressed may not truly reflect those of the FCBG.