A love of the written word drives everything that I do’

A love of the written word drives everything that I do'

I’m Nicola and I live in Sevenoaks with my husband, three children, our Boston Terrier Barnie (crazy dog) and more recently, Oscar, the rescue cat. I’m a northerner, originally from Leeds, but have lived ‘down south’ for 20 years. I still have the accent though, and argue with my kids frequently about whether you take a ‘bath’ or a ‘barth’, a ‘bus’ or a ‘bas’.

It’s this Yorkshire childhood to which I credit my lively imagination. It was back in the days when children were allowed to run free and left to make their own fun. We had to make up our own games, spending endless amounts of time outdoors and without adult supervision. Such was the extent of our imaginations, that one girl managed to convince me there was a werewolf in her garden. I have never been so scared!

Now an author, I write books for the middle grade and young adult age ranges. In July 2017, I set up Storymakers, a creative writing club for children. Providing weekly writing classes, holiday workshops and one-to-one sessions for children aged seven and over, the aim of this club is to encourage and inspire a love of writing.

I have frequently found children are reluctant to write, yet they have incredible imaginations and love to make up stories. My aim is to get them to translate these imaginings into words.

A love of the written word drives everything that I do. I had always wanted to write a book, but didn’t know, for a long time, what I wanted to write. My middle daughter, a reluctant reader, was the one who inspired me to write for children. For me, middle grade and young adult literature had a big influence on my life, and it was this time that inspired my own love of reading and writing stories.

Knowing how important this time in a child’s life is made me even more determined to write stories that could have that same effect on other children, including my own, and also encourage them to want to read and discover more. I wanted to create something that was lively, interesting and, most importantly, achievable.

My links to Yorkshire remain strong and those memories of my childhood days provided both the inspiration and the setting for The Mystery of the Disappearing Underpants and the Time School series.

The Storymakers Club goes from strength to strength, with four established groups of children ranging from seven to 14 years. I regularly take my workshops to schools and will also be running the creative writing workshops for children at this year’s Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival.  So please do come along and say hello…

Culture Club

Who to see at Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival

Joanne Harris with Julia Wheeler

The Strawberry Thief

Chocolat author Joanne Harris talks about her life and work and a return to her best-known characters with her new novel, The Strawberry Thief. This is her fourth novel to follow the life of Vianne Rocher and her fellow villagers in Lansquenet-sous-Tannes; a series that includes Chocolat – which was turned into an Oscar-nominated movie starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp – The Lollipop Shoes and Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé. Joanne is an Anglo-French author of 14 novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Julia Wheeler is a writer, journalist and former BBC Gulf Correspondent.

Hunter Davies with David Lough

Happy Old Me: How to Live A Long Life, and Really Enjoy It

Happy Old Me is a moving yet uplifting account of one year in Hunter Davies’ life, navigating bereavement and finding hope in the future. Three years ago, Margaret Forster, his wife of 55 years, lost her life to cancer. As Hunter discovers what it means to be single again, coping with bereavement and being elderly (he still doesn’t believe he is), he shares his wisdom and the lessons he has learnt. His book is a heart-felt tribute to the love of his life and an amusing and informative book about old age. David Lough is the author of Darling Winston and No More Champagne.

Oz Clarke with Nancy Gilchrist

Red & White: An Unquenchable Thirst for Wine

Oz Clarke is one of the world’s leading wine experts and he will be popping the cork on his life-long love affair with wine. Red & White combines a fast-paced witty memoir with a passionately opinionated guide, explaining how, why and where he discovered wine, how it is grown and made today, and how to taste and enjoy wine whatever your budget. Oz has won all the major wine writing awards and is a regular on TV and radio. Nancy Gilchrist is a Master of Wine and runs courses such as Académie du Vin at 67 Pall Mall in London.

Ana Sampson with Emma Harding

She Is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women

Ana Sampson has compiled a powerful collection of poems written by women, ranging from the ancient world to the present; it includes poems from suffragettes to school girls, from spoken word superstars to civil rights activists, from aristocratic ladies to kitchen maids – all with voices worth hearing. Immerse yourself in poems by Wendy Cope, Maya Angelou, Ysra Daley-Ward, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, Imtiaz Dharker and many more. Ana will share her passion for poetry with Emma Harding, a BBC radio producer and writer.

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