|Dame Carol Ann Duffy (centre) with Festival Directors Kaye Tew and James Draper|
By Zainab Imran from Whalley Range High School
I have just come back from the official opening event of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival 2015 hosted by creative director, Dame Carol Ann Duffy. My brain is still trying to process the fact that I actually talked to her!
With a spring in my step, (I actually twisted my ankle on that very day, just my luck!) and my best smile plastered on my face, I was determined to get answers from these jolly good writers. But, boy was I wrong! It felt like a bunch of cocoons decided to hatch in my belly and my hands were shivering so bad that I couldn’t hold my clipboard properly!
However, I wasn’t going to let my nerves get the best of me. With my questions ready, I went ahead and asked away! My first interviewee, if you can call him that, was the fabulous Matt Brown. Matt is the author of the MCBF 2015 mascot character, Compton Valance, (a pretty awesome name, if I do say so myself!)
My first question was of how his younger self took to writing. He replied, saying, “When I was younger in secondary school, I mostly did enjoy writing and art, even though I wasn’t so great with a paintbrush and a canvas! I stuck to writing, because I soon realised that writing was going to get me somewhere in life.”
I then asked, “So, if you weren’t writing books, what would you be doing right now?”
“I am and have actually been a numerous amount of things. I do Heart Radio down west and I was a television presenter before, so to answer your question I would just be those instead or a butcher. That’s only because I used to tend for pigs until they were fit enough for the chop! But the truth is, all authors do need a job, because we’re not all bestselling authors like J.K Rowling!”
Amen to that Matt!
And then later, I got to meet with the world-famous, stupendous, magnificent, jaw-dropping, fantastical…
I should really just get on with it…
Dame Carol Ann Duffy!
We sat down and introduced ourselves, it was all very formal. I asked the same questions that I asked Matt Brown, but began with a more Carol Ann Duffy based question.
“So, the first female Poet Laureate, how did that feel when that occurred to you?”
“It was an absolute pleasure, and to be the first female? I was delighted to have that honour.”
Short and sweet, I liked it!
“And so, when you were a young girl at school, did you have the ambition of a writer? Were your dreams filled with imaginations that you felt had to be put on paper and shared to the world?”
“It began at the age of 10. I adored writing as much as I did reading, and it was no doubt my teachers played a role in that as well. They motivated me to writing more, and I think that’s where I got that writing spark from.”
Can I just say now, that at this point my forehead must have had an equivalent amount of sweat to an NBA star’s basketball shirt?
Anyway, back to the last question.
“And finally, if right now you were not an author or a poet, what would you be doing right now?”
There was a long awkward silence.
‘Uh oh,’ I thought to myself, ‘now you’ve done it Zainab, you idiot!’
“I have no idea,” Carol Ann replied.
Phew, thank heavens I didn’t do anything stupid!
“I really think that I was just destined for a life as a writer, and nothing else.”
And then it was over, I thanked Carol Ann and Matt, a few hugs were given and taken and a few pictures were snapped. I thanked all the people there who helped me with the journalism, and left. But not without a new book! Like I say, a book a day keeps the math away!
Was I the only one bursting with excitement after that? I guess so. However, meeting marvellous writers and illustrators was truly amazing. Never have I felt most thrilled to meet up and talk to such fantastic people. All it took for me was to woman up, make like Nike and ‘Just Do It’. Hey, thank God I didn’t faint walking to them! Now I just cannot wait for tomorrow’s Family Fun Day, and someone’s going to be in a bowtie, a fez and her sonic screwdriver!
Hope to see you there!
This is Zainab Imran, signing out!
(P.S. That someone’s me, if you were wondering, though it was kind of obvious!)