I am delighted to welcome the wonderful Natasha Farrant to the blog as part of the epic YA Shot 2016 Tour. (Young Adult books are aimed at children in their mid-teens.)
Natasha is the author of the Bluebell Gadsby stories, with the latest (and last),’ Time for Jas,’ being released over the summer. I’m also very excited to read ‘Lydia,’ which is Natasha’s take on the youngest sister from ‘Pride and Prejudice.’
As several of her books feature characters who are at school or having difficulties at school, I decided that our question and answer session should have a back to school theme. So here’s what Natasha had to say about her time at secondary school:
1. Favourite subject?
Spanish. I fell in love in the very first lesson, when I learned to say “Yo soy una muchacha” (I am a girl). Muchacha! Such a great word. I went on to study Spanish at university, and spent a year living in Venezuela. It was one of the best things I ever did, and I wish more people studied languages in this country.
2. Least favourite subject?
Maths. One of the things I’ve been amazed at with my own teenage children is how different maths teaching is to when I was growing up. It seems so much more engaging now, but it honestly made me miserable because I just couldn’t understand. I got 27% in my mock Maths O’Level.
3. School dinners or packed lunch?
I was never given the choice.
4. Funniest thing that ever happened?
When a (nameless) boy fell asleep in class and farted. We laughed for weeks.
5. Your most embarrassing moment?
It involved getting my period and wearing a white skirt… Sorry, this is all very biological!
6. Did you have an arch-nemesis?
I changed school for Sixth Form. About a month in, a boy decided that he didn’t like me and turned all my friends against me. It took me four terms to finally make new friends. It wasn’t a happy time.
7. Whose poster was on your bedroom wall?
James Dean being a rebel without a cause.
8. What were your future career ambitions?
To be a writer.
9. Which fictional school do you wish you’d attended?
Mallory Towers – that swimming pool.
10. Your most memorable book?
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the precise moment when Lucy walks through the wardrobe for the first time and feels the coats turn to trees. As I walked with her into another world, I think I realised just how powerful a book can be.
So there you go, Natasha wanted be a writer from an early age, pursued her dream and achieved her goal – inspiration for aspiring young writers everywhere.
I also asked Natasha for her views about the importance of libraries in schools – a matter close to my heart and currently receiving publicity as some schools are closing their libraries or having to run them without a trained librarian. Here’s what Natasha had to say:
“Where to start, when you consider access to books to be a basic human right?
I think my main point about school libraries is this: I have nothing but respect and admiration for teachers but their job, first and foremost, is to deliver a curriculum. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – it’s what I expect of my own children’s teachers – but if we consider education as extending beyond the classroom – if we think of it as a path to enabling every child to become the best version possible of him or herself – then we have no better friend than a library.
A library is a democratic place. To enter a library is to step away from unkind schoolmates, difficult lessons and problems at home. It doesn’t matter if you are rich, poor, clever, less clever, popular or bullied – as a librarian character in one of my books puts it, “books do not judge you”. To pick up a book – fiction or non-fiction, literary or commercial, modern or classic – is to enter a world of discovery and possibility. It is to bring alive all those things which maybe, in class, seemed a little distant – history, geography, literature, languages, even physics and maths. It is to understand other people, the differences between us, the many more things we have in common. And through reading about others, ultimately, it is about discovering yourself.
That is what I consider to be an education. And that is why I believe libraries to be the heartbeat of a school.”
Well, there you go! Strong arguments indeed for the vital importance of libraries for all!
I’d like to thank Natasha again for agreeing to be interviewed for this blog post and to the team behind the herculean effort involved in organising such a huge blog tour. If you’d like to read more interviews and reviews, or enter fab competitions, follow #YAShot2016