Daniel Blythe is the author of Kiss the Sky and Hope and Truth from Badger Learning's new series for struggling readers, Between The Lines. He has also written titles from their successful YA Reads, Teen Reads and WOW! Facts series.
He has been writing for over 20 years, and has written many books for children, teenagers and adults. He is the author of several of the official "Doctor Who" novels, as well as the supernatural adventures "Shadow Runners" and "Emerald Greene and the Witch Stones". As Dan Roberts, he wrote "Famous Robots and Cyborgs". His books have been translated into several languages and have been sold to countries including Germany, the USA, Brazil, Finland and Saudi Arabia.
Daniel travels around the country doing events for schools and festivals. He has appeared in over 400 schools so far, where the day which he leads often involves a "Doctor Who" talk, a quiz and writing workshops.
Although born in Kent, Daniel is now an adopted Northerner, living near Sheffield with his wife and two school-age children.
Q&A with Daniel Blythe
What inspired you to write for reluctant readers?
I go into so many schools and see children inspired to pick up a book for pleasure for the first time, which is really gratifying. I've been lucky enough to be involved with "Doctor Who" and the wonderful storytelling opportunities that offers - it's a great inspiration to children's imagination. I was always a very keen reader but I'm aware that it isn't everyone's first choice, so the more I can do to encourage young people into reading the better.
What challenges do struggling readers face when they open a book?
Feeling that it is not for them, or is about a world they have no interest in. As writers we have a duty to make our books interesting and enjoyable!
What is your favourite type of character to create?
I like creating villainous characters who are still rather likeable - and trying to give them memorable dialogue.
What features and methods do you use to ensure that your books have that High Interest appeal that really engages young readers?
I use simple, accessible language but at the same time don't write down to the reader. I always try and picture who my ideal reader is, and I read through what I have written over and over again to ensure it is the best it can be.
What difference do books like these make to children who are in need of literacy support?
It's great if children can get into reading through any route. Once they start, we hope they will pick up other books which may be more difficult or challenging, and start to take risks with their reading!
Can you give us any teasers of what to expect in your upcoming WOW! Facts titles?
Lots of fantastic facts presented in an entertaining way. I've always tried to keep coming back to the quirky, the unusual and the memorable.
What are the major themes of your work?
In my fiction, I am fascinated by dreams and memories and how they interact with reality. I also love anything spooky and atmospheric, and a lot of my stories feature the supernatural.
What controls do you place on the vocabulary you use and how important is this?
For my fact books I've been very careful to write in simple, accessible language. In my fiction, I take a few more risks. With the "Doctor Who" books, for example, they have to appeal to 8-year-olds but also to the middle-aged readers who have enjoyed those stories since the 1970s! The master of the "Doctor Who" novel is Terrance Dicks, who writes in such a brilliant, fast-moving, accessible way.
What is your favourite children's book?
I think it's probably still "The Hobbit", which I first got for Christmas when I was about 7 and have read numerous times since. I also enjoyed the "Just William" series and Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons".
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers/authors?
Read as widely as possible. Don't worry about getting your writing "right" at first - just write it! Go back and edit your work as ruthlessly as you can, and get a trusted person (or two) to look over it, someone who will give you their honest opinion. And write down every idea you think of! I like to try and create a "book blurb" for every story idea I have - this usually tells me if it's going to be good enough or not.
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