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: