Cavan Scott is the author of our Adventure Park series. These inventive stories for reluctant readers follow the antics of Emily, Jacob and Frank the hamster as they traverse the perils and wonders of Emily's eccentric grandfather's magical – if overambitious – theme park.
He wrote, Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space for World Book Day 2016.
He has written dozens of books, comic strips and audio dramas based on such popular series as Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Skylanders, Angry Birds, Warhammer 40,000, Judge Dredd and many more. His fact-filled Doctor Who miscellany, Who-ology (co-written with fellow Badger author Mark Wright) was published in May 2013 and went on to become a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller.
A Bristolian born and bred, Cavan lives in the West Country with his family, two goldfish and a blow-up Dalek called Desmond.
Passionate about getting kids reading, he also regularly visits schools around the country running creative writing workshops with children of all ages.
Q&A with Cavan Scott
What inspired you to write for reluctant readers?
Because I love reading myself and would love to encourage others to pick up a book and lose themselves in a story. I wanted to write stories for reluctant readers that are hopefully just as dynamic and exciting as the books that I like to read - stories that don't talk down to them, but drive them on to finish the book.
What challenges do struggling readers face when they open a book?
Sometimes the biggest challenge is the feeling that books aren't meant for them. When I work with reluctant readers in school you get the sense that some pupils believe that books are written for other people, an inclusive club. It's usually just because they haven't found the kind of book that interests them.
What is your favourite type of character to create?
Scary ones! I love a good monster, whether they're human or have more tentacles than is healthy.
What features and methods do you use to ensure that your books have that High Interest appeal that really engages young readers?
I try to throw them into the action straight away. One of the tricks I try to use is to start the opening scene half way through. We're already in the thick of it. Mama Barkfingers starts in the middle of a fight and Pest Control begins with the main character about to do something quite daring. That way the readers get pulled into the story immediately.
What difference do books like these make to children who are in need of literacy support?
Hopefully they'll be the bridge to reading more 'grown-up' books. The Teen Reads series certainly doesn't talk down to the children. These are edgy little stories that shock and sometimes scare, dealing with the big issues that effect children at school and at home. Just because they're aimed at reluctant readers, doesn't mean they have to talk down to them.
Can you give us any teasers of what to expect in Mama Barkfingers and/or The Hunted?
Hopefully a few shivers. Both stories see kids thrown into quite terrifying situations - being chased by monsters or finding themselves in a gloomy wood with only an ancient bogeyman for company. Or is that bogey-woman? You'll see when you read the books!
What are the major themes of your work?
How people survive when they're thrown into horrible situations. Will they sink or swim? How will they act? And what does that tell them about themselves?
What controls do you place on the vocabulary you use and how important is this?
I don't control my vocabulary when I write my first draft. I write these stories as I would any others. Then I go back and look at the words used. Are they the best to describe what's happening? Could they be confusing? The important thing, however, when writing books for reluctant readers isn't to dumb things down. Yes, you make them easy to read, but you also want the readers to develop as they work through the stories. The trick is getting the balance between challenging the reader and putting them off completely.
What is your favourite children's book?
The BFG by Roald Dahl. What's not to love about a book with frobscottle, snozzcumbers and whizzpoppers?
Bringing things right up to date, I've recently read the Department 19 novels and absolutely love them. They're aimed at slightly older kids and feature some of the most terrifying vampires I've seen in a while. Oh, and Frankenstein's monster too. Have I mentioned that I love monsters? Oh, I have. Good. 'Cos I do!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers/authors?
Keep a notebook with you at all times. Then, when an idea pops into your head, jot it down. You never know when that idea will come in useful. I'm always flipping through my old notebooks when I need to spark off a story.
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