Wednesday 13 January 2016

The Telling of Stories

By Andrea Grigg

When I think about it, it’s not surprising I ended up becoming a writer. Story-telling has always been a big part of my life, and I’m not talking about creative excuses, in case you were wondering!

From the time I was little, I was entertained by stories. Mum and Dad read to me every day – I cut my reading teeth on The Famous Five – but Dad was also a fabulous storyteller. He used to make up adventures on the spot about anything. My favourites were the on-going bedtime ones about Wendy and Gary, a brother and sister who led very exciting lives!

Dad was, and still is at 88, a voracious reader, something he passed on to me. When I was a child I read anywhere. In the back seat of the car, in the bath, (and yes, on the toilet) but I was never allowed to read at the dining table, although I tried. More than once.

We used to go to the library every Friday night. I would come home with around ten books and they’d be well and truly finished by the following Friday. I was thrilled when the librarians allowed me to select books from the Young Adult section way before I was officially old enough.

I know what influenced me as a reader, but what about my dad? I thought it would be interesting to find out. He was born waaaay back in 1927, and I was curious to know the differences between the reading world then and the reading world now.

So, Dad, a.k.a. Ross Davison – what gave you the reading bug?

I suppose it was because my mum always encouraged me to read, and because I was provided with books. I was given Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows when I was quite young. I used to read them over and over. I learned to read very quickly from those.

Haha, Dad. They would’ve been practically brand new back then! What else did you like to read growing up?

We had a brilliant collection of children’s encyclopaedias. Big, fat volumes, with information as well as children’s stories. I reckon I learned half my general knowledge from those. I also loved the Just William books, by Richmal Crompton, Dr Doolittle books, and boys magazines which had adventures about footballers, boxers, cricketers and aviators. I read Lord Of The Rings about 50 years ago before it became popular. I’ve read it many times since, along with The Hobbit.

Which genres are your favourites?
Mystery, adventure, comedy, historical, and non-fiction concerning aircraft, golf and cars.

Any favourite authors?

Not especially, except for Clive Cussler. I quite like choosing authors I don’t recognise. I discovered the Cadfael Chronicles, by Ellis Peters, an historical murder mystery series set in the 1100s, and I really enjoyed them.

Have you noticed any changes in the reading world over the years?

There are more scenes containing explicit violence and sex these days.

Books have become longer ie. 600-700 pages is common. They used to average around 300-400.

Covers were more subdued back then, nothing like as bright.

Books were hardbound rather than paperbacks.

Today, the print is easier to read, better laid out. The quality of paper is better too.

Comics back then weren’t like the ones you see now. They used funny animals and caricatures more than human beings. I had a first editon of Phantom. Wish I had it now!

Children’s books tended to have more story than pictures, unlike now.

To sum it up, the quality of the story is still what matters. That hasn’t changed.

Totally agree, Dad. Thanks for your insights – it was a fun interview!

About Andrea Grigg:

      I am an author of two Christian contemporary romances: A Simple Mistake and Too Pretty, and I'm working on my third. My website is under reconstruction at the moment but you can contact me on Facebook orTwitter. I would love to hear from you!


  1. Love this post, Andrea and dad. Ha, he's a man after my own heart. I used to regale our 2 boys with the Ralph & Ross adventures every night. They keep encouraging me to write them - who knows there may be a future kids series in my future.

    Wind in the Willows had a provide effect on me too and to this day is still very special to me. And Clive Cussler, love that he's a go to author for your dad. I own everyone of his (well over 60 books now) I haven't read them all but not too far behind.

    Thank your day for sharing his love for books and reading.

    1. Hi Ian - sounds like you and Dad should write a book of stories for boys!I'll let him know your shared reading interests.He'll be rather chuffed :)

  2. Thanks, Andrea--an interesting post and a lovely interview with your dad. I'm so glad he discovered Ellis Peters and those mediaeval 'whodunits'--they're some of my favourites too and I have the whole set on my shelves here. It also brought back my own memories of heading to the library to borrow books as a child and what a truly delicious experience that was! I also remember going to the library for our older daughter when she was just a child, with list in hand of Secret Seven and Famous Five books she hadn't read, hoping I could find one for her--or two or three!

    1. Hi Jo-Anne - great to hear about your nostalgic library experiences. Your daughter and I had very similar tastes by the sound of things. I was very grateful Enid Blyton was such a prolific writer!

    2. Lovely post Andrea and interesting to hear what your father saw as the book changes.

    3. Thanks Dale - Glad you enjoyed the post :)

  3. Andrea and Ross, lovely interview :) The Famous Five were favourites of mine, too. I loved going to the library when I was younger and filling my library bag with books. Great memories. Thanks for visiting with us.

    1. Hi Narelle - yet another thing we have in common. Thanks for commenting :)

  4. How lucky you were to have a dad who told you stories. Glad he gave you your love of reading.


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