Andy Seed is the author of the acclaimed 'All Teachers' series of humorous memoirs beginning with the best-selling 'All Teachers Great and Small'. He also writes poetry and non-fiction children's books for Hodder and Bloomsbury and is a popular speaker at venues across the country.
Andy lives in the wilds of North Yorkshire where daily he goes out with glinting weapons to do battle against the giant weeds in his garden. He usually loses.
Q&A with Andy Seed
What inspired you to write for reluctant readers?
Reluctant readers are kids who need inspiring. Reading and enjoying reading are so important that I just had to do something to try and capture their imaginations – so I wrote a story. I also recall being a bit of a non-reader myself at an early age, so that helped.
What challenges do struggling readers face when they open a book?
It's that business of not simply being able to enjoy the contents because you're still struggling to decode them. They know they are going to get stuck on words and understanding, typically. There's also the stigma of typically being given a 'babyish' book.
What is your favourite type of character to create?
I like smart-alecs who are always on the edge of being duffed up but somehow just get out of it because of their wit, nous and speed.
What features and methods do you use to ensure that your books have that high-interest appeal that really engages young readers?
Fast pace, easy opening, recognisable characters, story that grasps the reader right away, short paragraphs, interesting/relevant themes, humour, action, fun.
What difference do books like these make to children who are in need of literacy support?
A big difference: typically reluctant readers who succeed are given a 'breakthrough book' or series which is exactly right for them in terms of looks, tone, content, subject matter and image – as well as being a great story or a riveting non-fiction read, of course. These books are punchy, prickly barbs, cunningly designed to hook unenthusiastic readers and get them going.
Can you give us any teasers of what to expect in Chocolate Wars?
Well, it has the mother of all crises for a start: the world is running out of chocolate – what could be worse? And it has a satisfying quotient of baddies, banter and barnstorming action.
What are the major themes of your work?
Humour, adventure, and did I say humour?
What controls do you place on the vocabulary you use and how important is this?
It's very important for the reluctant reader and can make all the difference as to whether he or she gets into (and therefore enjoys the book), receiving a positive reading experience. It's simply a case of knowing the kinds of words that struggling readers have problems decoding (I was a teacher for 17 years so this is second nature) and avoiding them without making the narrative too soft or dull.
What is your favourite children's book?
Oh NO, I have to choose... One? It's almost too hard because there are so many great books but it has to be Goodnight Mr Tom.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers/authors?
All authors say 'read a lot' and it's true – that's by far the best thing to do. Then practise writing. Also, keep a notebook, research what's popular at the library, don't try and copy and write about what interests you.
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