Top 10 children’s books that influenced my writing and why
Dragon’s dinner by Susannah Corbett
This is a hilarious book I read at least once a month to myself, I know it’s a young child’s picture book, but I adore it!
It is written in rhyme and there is a comedy element on every page, not to mention great illustration too! I have a love for dragons that almost rivals my love for vampires; this is seen in the novels I write. In fact, I have nearly finished a dragon novel to the extent that I may be considering sending it off to an agent in 2022. At the moment I have approximately three more chapters to write of it again, this is the eighth draft, but then I will store it away for a couple of months and look again with fresh eyes and see if it needs a ninth draft – but I doubt it at the moment.
A strange thing for me is that writing the story initially can take just under a month for me to do, but editing and redoing drafts can take me three months, because I find that a boring process, I hate redoing stuff! I am trying to learn to love doing that.
My dragon novel is potentially YA or adult fantasy, not sure yet, it is definitely bigger than this picture book and does have a lot of comedy elements to it.
Horton hears a who by Dr Seuss
I love most books by Dr Seuss and this is my favourite. I like books where something unbelievable is eventually proven to the other characters of the book and that is something that is seen in a handful of my own works. Once again there is a comedy element to the book.
I think I love this story a lot because when I was a child I used to blow bubbles and imagine that every bubble was a planet full of life, like Earth only different with unique creatures on each planet and that the time scale was epically fast. I never read Horton Hears A Who until I had my son Henry and bought the book for him when he was 2yrs old – so the book resonated with me a lot.
James and the giant peach by Roald Dahl
There would be more than just one book by Roald Dahl on this list, but I wanted to be as broad as possible in my listings; it was difficult trying to narrow down which book to choose for this list by this specific author; I chose the one that I felt was the most unique and the one that literally got my heart pumping with excitement as I read it.
There were so many wonderful things in this book, talking, friendly insects, a comedy element, drama, horror, lots and lots of excellent scenery I just adored it. I loved the parts where the peach acted like a hot air balloon and was flying above the world. It is this scene which has influenced me the greatest, because I am working on a fantasy series based on a hot air balloon traveller which is aimed for a YA audience potentially.
Harry Potter and chamber of secrets by J.K Rowling
Much like most people nowadays, it is hard to think of fantasy and children’s books without thinking about Harry Potter, it is a great series and narrowing down to a specific book was very difficult, but this is my favourite because of the living trees and the giant spiders. Also I found this the funniest of the lot. I like depictions of forests particularly with living trees mentioned occasionally, such can be found in many books, Lord of the Rings and The Wizard of Oz to name but two. I have to admit, even I have written a scene with forest spiders in one of my novels, not to copy, but because it just felt so right and almost expected in a manner; in fact it is a scene in my main dragon novel.
Engelbert Sneem and his dream vacuum machine by Daniel Postgate
This had me riveted from the offset, it is amazing. I love books where you get to dance around in someone else’s dreams and things like this, BFG and a couple of other stories had dreams in them too. I love writing about dream worlds within my stories from time to time, but they do seem to be more horror based than my usual comedy fantasy.
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
I have loved reading Heidi ever since I was a child and I must admit not only reading it, but also love watching all the movies that come out based on this story too! Heidi has influenced my imagination a lot over the years. I love goats and mountain sceneries and books with snow, books that star strong minded children who seem to act as blessings to the adults of their world. I love miracle stories too and little Clara certainly had a miracle happen to her!
Quite a few of my books do seem to be rather Germanic, Norse or Slavic based, unintentionally, I haven’t really understood why. I have strong warrior figures in my novels and the landscapes usually end up sounding like Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, the Alps and sometimes even the Carpathians. I have never travelled outside of the UK; it would be lovely to do so at some point and visit some of those places that influence me and my writing.
Diary of a wimpy vampire by Tim Collins
It is such a funny book and the fact it contains vampires is another reason why I love this book so much; also this book made my son into a reader, because before he saw me reading this book to myself and laughing my head off at it at every page turn, he absolutely hated reading! But now I have to say, he tries to read a whole large novel once every month.
My vampires have some comedy interjected into the pages from time to time, but it is not deliberately set out to be a comedy series – I just can’t help myself.
Mr Stink by David Walliams
I like books where children change the minds of the adults around them as I have mentioned before and this book does that. I love books which show the best qualities of humanity, generosity etc. I also love stories that are riches to rags and back again to riches, I have loved themes like this since I was a kid. I loved movies such as “The Jerk” with Steven Martin and “Life Stinks” with Mel Brookes amongst others and yes, it is a theme I would like to write someday too. Once again, there is comedy here.
I will say, that as a child I read a lot, but it was mostly non-fiction and that a majority of the fantasy and stuff I indulged in were movies, I watched a movie every day, without fail, sometimes three times a day, because I was home educated and work fast in my studies and had a lot of spare time to myself, cooped up indoors all day long. My father had a massive VHS collection over eight hundred which had two or three movies on each he recorded off the TV, so there were always a lot of things to watch!
The tin can band by Margaret Mahy
I love all the poems and songs in this book. I love the artwork and everything about the book. The art inspires my art a lot and the poetry knows how to touch several nerves too. I love the concept of dancing in the shadows and having night time, shadow acrobats dancing around you, causing you to hallucinate and see things that aren’t quite what they seem when the lights are out.
The poems contain witches and various other creatures, some with comedic ideas and others more serious in tone, such as deforestation and a lovely concept on death too.
I love authors that have a knack in making death less scary and more beautiful or at least more fun.
Wolf by Gillian Cross
I like books about the homeless and hippies and that sort of thing, this book contains squatters and a little girl who tries to live with her mother under extraordinary circumstances. The child is rather independent and I just love the book, but I can’t say it has influenced anything in particular though.