YA Author Rhian Ivory joins our festive countdown.
Rhian Ivory studied English Literature at Aberystwyth and trained as a Drama & English teacher. She wrote her first novel during her first few years in teaching, securing a publishing deal with Bloomsbury who published her first four books. Rhian’s fifth book, The Boy who Drew the Future has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2017. She is a National Trust writer in residence at Sudbury Hall and the Museum of Childhood. She currently lives in Rutland, the smallest county in the country, with her family and their two very lively spaniels.
Name three things on your Christmas list this year! When I was little I’d ask my Dad that same question and he’d always answer with “Two good children” and my brother and I would groan. So I’m going to say “Three good children” just to annoy my three little angels. I’d also like snow, lots of it. Deep enough to build a snowman and have a decent snowball fight. And maybe build an igloo. And then…let’s not pretend I haven’t got a book wish list but if I had to pick just one title it would probably be To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey. I adored her first novel, The Snow Child and I’m guessing this next one will be equally wonderful.
Christmas is a time of family traditions – what are your best (or worst!) family traditions? Best one is all of us sit and read the most stunning pop-up book version of The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore published by Simon and Schuster. It is a thing of beauty and we all love it. My mum bought it for me years ago and it has been well loved. Worst one is watching the Christmas movies with the kids, there’s a lot of (loud) discussion about who gets to choose the film this year. It can (and often does) end in disaster on Christmas Eve.
What is your favourite story to read at Christmas? A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas with those gorgeous illustrations by Edward Ardizzone. I hear those opening lines and feel like Christmas is about to properly start. “…I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.” Magic.
If you could have Christmas dinner with anyone (alive today or person from history) who would it be and why? That’s easy! Louisa May Alcott. I’d have to ask her about the Laurie/Professor Bhaer decision and get her version of events, then I’d report back so that we can all be put out of our misery. Why, Louisa? Why?
In The Boy who Drew the Future you brilliantly connect two characters that live hundreds of years apart. How do you think a child from the 1800s would react to the way we celebrate Christmas in 2016? Why thank you. Honestly? I think they’d be horrified as I am when I force myself to go a shopping centre from October onwards. *shivers as the prospect of Christmas shopping*. The best part of Christmas last year for me was all the village gathered on the green to sing carols by candlelight and lanterns. My 5 year old was bored senseless but I was transported, probably back to the 1800s.
Your Year 9 class persuaded you to send off your first novel (brilliant!). How would you persuade a class of Year 9 reluctant readers to pick up a book for the festive season?Thank you. They were a brilliant class. I think I’d go for the simple option and just read to them. I think the words from any good story would do all the talking for me. I’d do all the voices and accents and really bring the story to life for them rather than try to persuade them with reasons or statistics. Of course there are statistics aplenty about how reading improves your health, your ability to empathise and gives you knowledge which in turn gives you power. But even more important than that reading gives you choice and that’s something we should all have and not just at Christmas.
Reader’s question from children at the Inkpots Writers’ Hut; how long does it take you to write a book? Each book is different, which is really annoying because it makes it hard to plan. On the whole I’d say most of my books have taken 8 months apart from The Boy who Drew the Future which took 7 years. Yes, 7 years! But there was a lot of moving house and having babies and living in a caravan in the snow with frozen water pipes (don’t ask) and generally life getting in the way so don’t picture me sat in front of a computer for seven years solid. That would just be silly!
Turkey or goose? Turkey so my 5 year old could talk to the Turkey. He does such an ace Turkey impression. What? I’m not eating it!
Real or fake tree? Real. Every single time.
Mince pies or Christmas pudding? Both, obviously.
Stockings – end of the bed or over the fireplace? Fireplace. I’d just kick them off the end of the bed and so would the children. Also, I like to make Santa’s life as easy as possible for him.
Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve? Christmas Eve. New Year’s Eve has always been a massive let down. I love the anticipation of Christmas Eve, it is special and everything is about to happen but hasn’t happened just yet so you can savour it and really appreciate what’s to come.
Thank you for participating in our author advent. Happy Christmas!