This week we talk to award-winning children’s author, Giles Paley-Phillips
Q: Hi Giles Paley-Phillips, how are you doing? How was your lockdown?
I’m doing OK, thank you. Lockdown had its challenges creatively speaking, but it was a great time of reflection and being with the family was really lovely.
Q: You started out as a musician and performer – when and how did you decide to become an author?
It all started when I found out my wife was pregnant with our first child, and I really wanted to create something that was for him, something we could experience together when he was older.
Q: You also write poetry, do you find this process very different to writing stories?
I think my love of poetry comes out of my love of music; that sense of rhythm, the musicality of the words always appealed to me, but I don’t tend to approach it any differently from writing a children’s book or even non-fiction books.
Q: Where do you find your inspiration when coming up with a story or poem?
It can come from anywhere, and often when I least expect it but soaking up other creative works, whether it be music, film or books, can inspire me to plot.
Q: Your first novel for adults, One Hundred and Fifty -Two Days, came out in March this year – how did you find the transition into writing adult fiction books?
It’s something I always wanted to try but never thought I would, but once I did start the journey of this book, it felt like a natural progression from what I’d written before.
Q: You visit a lot of schools to give talks and literary workshops – have the kids you’ve met taught you anything or inspired something in your own writing?
I’m always inspired when doing events; just engaging in conversations and experiencing reactions first-hand can really inform the work.
Q: 1 in 8 schools across Britain do not have a library – have you had experience of the educational inequality within the school system or met anyone who has?
I think the government has woefully underfunded our schools, and also way too much emphasis has been put on testing and STEM subjects and not enough encouragement towards the arts, drama and music. I’d like to see a different model for education in the UK, something more in keeping with what they do in Finland, for example, with less testing and homework, and more to support children who don’t excel at academic subjects.
Q: Apart from your own books of course, what book or books do you think all children in schools should be given to read?
I’d like to see more diversity of authors and subjects, including books on the history of Black and ethnic minorities and other communities like LGBQT+. I think these are essential.
Q: Ok, so final question, Giles Paley-Phillips – if all the libraries in the world were on burning and you could only save three books, what would they be and why?
You can listen to Giles’ podcast with co-host Tim Daley, Blank Podcast, here.
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