Barrington Stoke publishes books written for and designed to be accessible to challenged readers; printed on special thicker cream coloured paper with dyslexia friendly font. The books are written by top authors and are read by dyslexic children and people learning English as a foreign language.
Anthony McGowan is a multi award winning author with Catalyst award and Booktrust Teenage prize in his pocket, and a film adaptation of his book The Knife That Killed Me, in production.
So we start the 3D review of Brock, with an interview Anthony. We've also got an interview with his editor and MD OF Barrington Stoke, Mairi Kidd, a review form me and a teen reviewer plus our spotlight on writing. All this and a book giveaway as well!
What was your favourite children’s book as a child?
What do you think makes children’s books so inspirational?It's all about the characters. Create compelling and sympathetic characters and everything else falls into place.
Why did you start writing for children?When I first became a writer I never thought of myself as writing for children. My first book, Hellbent, was originally intended for adults, But when it was finished I realised it was really a teen book. Later on I had children and began to write for them …
What was the inspiration behind Brock?The setting for Brock – a small town in Yorkshire – is closely based on the place where I was brought up – Sherburn in Elmet. The plot was strongly influenced by A Kestrel for Knave by Barry Hines – a truly great book.
What is your favourite aspect of writing for children?When a child or teenager loves a book, they love it with an incredible intensity and purity. It's wonderful being part of that.
How did you get the opportunity to write for Barrington Stoke?I met someone from the company at a book awards several years ago. We got talking and I was totally won over by what they do, and I really wanted to write something for them. And I think at the time they wanted someone to write grittily realistic stories for older teens, and that turned out to be me.
Are there any challenges / rewards when writing a book of Barrington Stoke?The reward is getting reluctant readers to pick up a book. At an book prize ceremony in Coventry last year they showed a film of a teenager talking about my book, The Fall. He had never before thought that reading was for him, but he'd loved it. I got quite emotional hearing him speak. In terms of challenges, I don't approach a Barrington Stoke book differently to the way I approach any other writing project. I simply write the best book I can. It then goes through some fairly rigorous editing, which irons out any problems that might make the book difficult for a dyslexic or reluctant reader to to understand.
Questions from Cameron our teenage reviewer . . .
How long did it take you write Brock?It only took me a couple of weeks to actually write the book, but I'd been thinking it over for about a year, getting the plot and characters sorted out in my head.
When you were writing Brock did you use a dictating program like Dragon?I've tried Dragon, but I just didn't get on with it. When I write, it's almost as if my fingers are doing the thinking, and changing to a dictation programme broke that physical bond that I seemed to need.
Are you dyslexic?No, but I'm a terrible, terrible speller …
What is your advice for someone with dyslexia about how to get things (thoughts) onto paper?It's just a matter of practice. Keep doing it, keep writing, keep thinking and dreaming. There are plenty of wonderful dyslexic authors – like Sally Gardner - so, although there are clearly obstacles, you can overcome them.
We have a copy of BROCK to giveaway!
Just e-mail with your name address and Brock in the subject line to