Although I've only written a few short books for Badger, I've probably published about 250 titles over the many years I've been writing for children. Mind you, some of those are so short you wouldn't notice them (the books, not the children)! I've also written longer books (plays, fiction and non-fiction) and enjoy going around schools to talk about them and to find out what young people like reading. I've visited hundreds of schools around the country and, as I used to be a teacher as well, I reckon I know quite a few scary secrets about staff rooms, caretakers, headteachers, librarians, creepy cupboards, terrifying teachers and wacky children. Some of them appear in my books!
Q&A with John Townsend
What inspired you to write for reluctant readers?
When I began, there was very little available at the right level for older struggling readers. I was driven by necessity. Thankfully this has changed but we still need to provide stimulating, exciting and manageable materials for young people who don't read much.
What challenges do struggling readers face when they open a book?
Starting a book is a risk. Will this be a waste of time, will this be boring, too difficult, a struggle or a negative experience? The writer's job is to encourage confidence and to convince the reader that 'books can be cool' and well worth the risk.
What is your favourite type of character to create?
Villains are always great fun to create – especially when they meet a grisly end!
What features and methods do you use to ensure that your books have that High Interest appeal that really engages young readers?
Pace is important. That often means action, cutting to the chase, no waffle and short sharp sentences with engaging content.
Can you give us any teasers of what to expect in either of your WOW! Facts titles?
Sharks – some scary true stories of shark attacks on people. You'll never want to go swimming again.
Animal Record Breakers – can a chicken really live without a head? This record-breaker is awesome!
Super Snakes – The biggest snake that ever lived is the stuff of mega nightmares. Warning – this book contains accounts of snakes lurking in the toilet. Beware when you go in the bathroom.
Gross Body Secrets – the truly yuck about your own body! Not for the squeamish.
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