I grew up in Cardiff, so I’m very keen to support the festival. I love re-imagining the city, thinking, what if it was like this? What if it was like that? Underneath all the concrete I think that idea is very much part of what Cardiff is all about. Bute and Burges loved fantasy and, in Cardiff Castle, they did just that, except they didn’t just dream it up, they actually built it: ‘How about a Castle?’ ‘OK – we’ll have a big one – here.’
I loved coming to town on Saturday and think it’s really interesting to connect stories up, inventing stories, with actual real places and to go and ‘be’ in those places. On our walk we’re going to the old Cardiff Docks, which are hidden under the shops, streets and rugby grounds of the modern cities.
I’ll be asking questions like, do you think there could be any ghosts left hanging around, any old disoriented pirates, for example?
I started writing stories as soon as I could hang onto a pen. The trouble was I wasn’t very good at it. I couldn’t spell and my handwriting was terrible so nobody understood anything. I’m a little better at it now, but not much really, and I still find that the same ideas that interested me when I was young still fascinate me.
I think the more books you write the more you understand how a book actually works – what you can try to do. For me the whole thing is about experimenting. Basically you always want to tell a story you don’t quite understand yourself. You want to find out what happens in the end.
The first books I can remember reading were Asterix books by Goscinny and Uderzo , the first ones without pictures was The Secret Seven series – by Enid Blyton.
Writing books is a way of finding things out. That means I don’t really or wouldn’t want to write something I already knew.
At the moment I’m reading a rather mysterious story about a dinner set at the moment, called The Owl Service by Alan Garner.
Cardiff Council has done brilliantly by sticking with the festival during very challenging times. Now it’s growing into a really important festival. We need to stick with books and with reading because without them people stop thinking for themselves. They stop coming up with new ideas.
Cardiff is based on newness, new ideas, and confidence. The media industries that have grown here all depend very much on things like the festival, libraries and books. Books are the trigger to all sorts of creativity, if you like, and young people are the innovators who will make things happen. We depend on them.
I was involved with the very first Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival and I’ve been lucky to have been invited to take part in lots of them.
Anything like this needs time to develop and establish its place in the community, in the calendar and in the wider world. Apart from engaging children all over the city with books, it provides a chance for new publishers to showcase their work and it brings publishers and authors in from further afield. That’s inspirational.
Working on Literature Wales’ classroom sessions ahead of the show has been really great fun – they weren’t on Saturdays, so it was OK to be in school. I visited Nant Caerau and Bryn Hafod schools in Ely and Llanrumney. We had a brilliant time and, as usual, the stories everybody else wrote were miles more imaginative than mine.
Writer Dan Anthony will guide the Singing Pirate Walk with Dan Anthony on Saturday, April 23rd. He will explore the inspiration behind his popular new series Steve’s Dreams and his latest story, Steve and the Singing Pirates. He has also been part of Literature Wales’ Schools’ Participation sessions.
Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival is produced by City of Cardiff Council, Literature Wales, Cardiff University and National Museum Wales.
Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival will take place from 16-24 April, 2016