Friday, March 9, 2012

Meeting Jackie Daydream

I once wrote about Roald Dahl being one of the few writers that understood children's minds so well. There is one particular author, born thirty years after him, that can do this abit better. Jacqueline Wilson's books were my drug as a child- the sense of euphoria they gave me...and the increasing dosages I needed to get the same level of satisfaction. I never really outgrew them- if there's a new Jacqueline Wilson novel, I'll make sure I read it (even if it's under the pretense of buying them for my younger sister).

What I loved most about her books were the little things her characters did or wrote about that I could so relate to- and that adults wouldn't give a second thought. She has this special ability to make a reader laugh out loud, burst into tears and nibble their nails all in the same page.

So it was a significant moment today morning when I sat in a hall at the Emirates Festival of Literature, with my sister and her two school friends, all of us clutching books to be signed and almost crying of excitement waiting for her to enter any minute. In she came then, with short humble steps- a typical elderly English lady, white cropped hair, glasses perched on nose, shabbily dressed in a wide shirt, trousers and a million enormous rings and clutching on shyly to her big black bag.

She sat down on stage and instantly began talking to the audience: stories of her childhood, her ambitions of becoming a writer, the little experiences she's been through and where she gets her ideas from. It went on for an hour and although I knew it all, it was such a great feeling sitting down and having your favourite childhood author speaking right to the kid inside you. It almost felt like I was listening to an audio tape of one of her books- it hit me how similar she was to all her made-up characters.

When it was my turn in the book sign-up, I really wanted to ask her how she managed to write so accurately from a child's perspective. I wanted to tell her that her books remind me of how I used to see the world back then, so how can she so easily right all this down- does it come to her naturally, or does she have to travel in her mind and reminisce how it felt like to be a child?

But then it struck me that it would be like asking her if she still thinks like a child or is just pretending to for writing sake. So instead I just ended up telling her something she already knew, "I love your books, Jacqueline Wilson. I know you must have heard this a million times." Oh, *chuckle* I'm so pleased dear.

Have you ever met somebody who has been a big influence in your life?

(This is my hundredth post!)

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