Roger Hurn has had over seventy books for children published. He is well known for his author visits to schools and has enormous experience as an educator having taught at all levels from Nursery to Higher Education. His experience led to him being a consultant advisor to the UK Home Office and the Children's Directorate. On a story telling trip to Africa, the local people called him Mallam Oga. It means "Wise teacher, Big Boss" - or, at least that's what they told him it meant!
In his spare time Roger plays seven-a-side football, and to the horror of music lovers everywhere, guitar in a rock band.
Q&A with Roger Hurn
What inspired you to write for reluctant readers?
I was inspired to write books for reluctant readers because I love books and stories myself and wanted everybody to share in that joy. I think of my books as springboards that kids can use to take the plunge into the wonderful world of imagination and adventure that you find in books.
What challenges do struggling readers face when they open a book?
Reluctant or struggling readers often don't have flexible reading strategies — if sounding out doesn't work quickly, they guess at words or just stumble on. They tend not to monitor their own comprehension and carry on "barking at print" even if the text is making no sense to them. What these readers need are books that are visually attractive and with content that grabs their interest without being in any way patronising.
What is your favourite type of character to create?
I like creating all sorts of characters. Villains are always fun because they have to be bad but with a fatal flaw that will always undo them. I also like creating heroes who are far from perfect but who have a sense of humour that helps them win the day.
What features and methods do you use to ensure that your books have that High Interest appeal that really engages young readers?
I always trial my stories out with children before I offer them to a publisher. If you're standing in front of up to 300 children, they will soon let you know if your stories haven't grabbed their attention!
What difference do books like these make to children who are in need of literacy support?
I see my books as acting as a springboard that children can use to dive into the amazing world of stories. Once they have a love of stories then the sky's the limit for them as far as reading is concerned.
Can you give us any teasers of what to expect from Best Day Ever, Pony Mad and Blackbeard's Treasure?
Best Day Ever is for everyone who's ever wished that their greatest dream would come true - because for the girl in the story it does! However, things turn out to be a little more complicated than she was expecting!
Pony Mad - Things are not looking good for Sam and her pony Zelda when Sam's jealous rival, Araminta steals Zelda's saddle just before the big show jumping competition. Now there is nothing to stop the horrible Araminta winning - or is there?
Blackbeard's Treasure - Josh is so excited when he finds an old treasure map showing the spot where Blackbeard, the evil pirate buried his treasure. However, Blackbeard, even from beyond the grave, will not give up his gold without a fight!
What are the major themes of your work?
My major theme is how you do not have to be a superhero with special powers to win the day and defeat the bad guys. All you need are helpful friends, a sense of humour and a large slice of luck!
What controls do you place on the vocabulary you use and how important is this?
T H White, a wonderful children's writer, once said that you should never talk down to children or underestimate what they are capable of understanding. I completely agree with this. It is our job as authors to use language to create worlds of the imagination that children can enjoy to the full.
What is your favourite children's book?
My favourite children's book is The Weirdstone of Brisingaman by Alan Garner.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers/authors?
My advice to aspiring writers is that they should read, read, read! It's the only way to learn the craft of writing.
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