Kid Lit workshops with Luke Aylen
We’re delighted to introduce children’s author Luke Aylen, who will be running workshops for our Kid Lit project.
Q&A with Luke Aylen
Your books are set in wonderful fantasy worlds and magical places. What made you want to write in this genre?
I love the fantasy genre! I’m actually not that interested in books set in our own time and place. I love escaping to somewhere so completely new and different where I have to set aside all my expectations and beliefs about the world and enter into something completely different. It sets my imagination on fire and is a huge amount of fun. If I’m ever sad or worried, tired or overwhelmed, taking a trip into a fantasy world brings me back to life.
While that may sound a bit like burying my head in the sand, what I’ve actually found is that my totally entering into another world, it makes me think more deeply about my own life and our own world. I think this is why I love writing fantasy. It takes people to a magical, unfamiliar place and opens up the mind to consider new and strange possibilities. In that place we can think big thoughts, put ourselves in others shoes, or question things that seem unquestionable in the real world. Oh… and I also love dragons.
Did you read fantasy books when you were younger? What was your favourite book growing up?
I certainly did. It was quite early on that I came to love fantasy. It probably started with the fantastical takes on our world by people like Roald Dahl. I loved his zany, fun, imaginative stories. As I got a bit older and started reading my first proper novels, I found myself almost always in the fantasy genre.
Choosing one book would be very hard! I loved Artemis Fowl, The Hobbit, The Windsinger Trilogy, and The Amulet of Samarkand.
If I absolutely had to pick a favourite series though, I think it would have to be the Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix. The worldbuilding in those books is phenomenal and I read them time and time again. After a long break, I reread it last year and still loved it as much as when I was growing up!
Sometimes it can be hard to come up with ideas for writing. What do you do to give yourself inspiration?
Often inspiration comes when I least expect it. In the car, on the toilet, in the middle of the night, or when out and about.
I often have to send myself an email with the idea quickly jotted down. Particularly when I’m in bed at 3am and wake up with an idea, I have to get it out of my head immediately before there is any chance of sleeping, otherwise I keep myself up thinking and imagining away all night!
When the ideas are not coming naturally and I need some inspiration. I love to visit very old or beautiful places like medieval castles, mossy woods, or wild valleys. In these places I feel like I’ve stumbled into a story and it gets the creative juices flowing! When possible I like to write in these places so I have a little campervan that I take to wild places and write from!
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start writing?
My advice is to just do it! To write for yourself and for your own pleasure. Create the adventures, stories and worlds that you want to explore.
Too often people get really caught up on how others will perceive them or their stories. You don’t need to be a published author to write and enjoy it. I wrote for myself only for many years before I was asked to write the An Adventure in Presadia series.
If you do dream of being a professional author, my advice is the same! Writing is like everything else, you learn it by doing it. I still feel like I am learning a lot about writing stories and my own style.
If you do want to get published then it is important to learn to ask for and receive feedback, even the hard stuff! You don’t always need to agree or act on it but a professional author has to understand why people like or dislike their books and it definitely makes you better as an author. My books wouldn’t be half as good if it wasn’t for the friends, editors and other authors who have helped me by giving their honest feedback.
One final thing I would say is to not assume that a writer has to be like something you are not. For a long time I thought I couldn’t be a writer because I am dyslexic and have really bad spelling and handwriting. It’s taken me years to learn that my dyslexia is one of my greatest strengths as it makes my imagination run wild! Everyone will find different parts of the process hard, so if you don’t find writing or reading the easiest, that’s ok! If you love stories and want to create and share them, it’s worth the hard work!
Luke is the author of the Presadia Trilogy, The Mirror and the Mountain, The Forgotten Palace, and The Last Dragon Rider.
Luke will also be selling and signing copies of his books at our Kid Lit event (£7.99 per book or the whole trilogy for a discounted price of £20).
Kid Lit is The Courtyard’s Children’s Literacy Project supporting our community in promoting literacy, creative writing and writing resilience following an unprecedented time in our children’s education.