24 December: Horatio Clare

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Award winning author Horatio Clare joins our author calendar!

unnamedHoratio Clare’s first book for children, Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, won the Branford Boase Award 2016. His previous works include Running for the Hills, an acclaimed account of a Welsh childhood, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and saw Horatio shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. Other books include Truant, A Single Swallow (shortlisted for the Dolman Travel Book of the Year), The Prince’s Pen and most recently the best-selling travelogue, Down to the Sea in Ships(winner of the Dolman Travel Book of the Year). His essays and reviews appear regularly in the national press and on BBC radio.

Name three things on your Christmas list this year! Hope, joy and patience…

Christmas is a time of family traditions – what are your best (or worst!) family traditions? Carol singing in the square, normally in sleet. Eating pheasant on
Christmas eve. Missing the days of great films on Christmas afternoon. Watching hours of television.

What is your favourite story to read at Christmas? A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas is wonderful.729e7bfbb0f70b93124962aba079e8c3

If you could have Christmas dinner with anyone (alive today or person from history) who would it be? William Shakespeare is the person I would most like to meet. I believe he was very good company, laughed a lot, and was the greatest listener and observer of all time. It was be great fun to see what he made of a modern Christmas.

Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot features a wonderful cast of characters from Aubrey himself to a talking bluebottle!  If you could describe the perfect cast for a festive story who would it include? You need a heroine: I think an extremely wild girl who had definitely not been good and was told she was not on Santa’s good children list would make an interesting lead character. And you need a villain. Donald Trump? There should be a buzzard with vertigo, a pirate with seasickness and an escaped prisoner, incarcerated for a crime he did not commit.

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You explore the very real and difficult issue of depression in Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot and yet the book is full of compassion and hope. What would you say to encourage someone suffering from depression particularly at a time when everyone is ‘supposed’ to be feeling jolly and festive? Loss of perspective is a killer. Depression tells you it’s all about you, it’s all your fault, and that you make people unhappy. All of this is untrue. If you can get up, say yes to everything and forget yourself, even for a minute, through involvement with other people, this is good. Kindness to oneself and forgiveness of oneself make a great difference. Service to others, just the smallest thing, helps you to forget yourself. Some of the happiest people at Christmas work for others – a friend of mine used to volunteer at a crisis centre. It was a genuine public service and it made her a great, giving person to be around. Conversation is a huge help – the Samaritans are busy at Christmas, for good reason. It is a sign of strength and recovery to search for people to talk to: you do not have to wait until you are in a desperate place to call them. They would much rather just speak to someone who needs a good listener who will not make judgements. Also, no one should feel bad about going to bed with a book or the remote and staying there. Sometimes it is a waiting game – depression does end, that’s the secret, and sometimes you just have to be kind to yourself, and let the light in. Doing things you don’t feel like -going for walks in vile weather, meeting people when you don’t think you are up to it – always brings unexpected reward, and relief.

(This is really heartfelt and heart warming – and full of hope).

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Reader’s question from the children at the Inkpots Writers’ Hut; we are often told persevering as a writer is really important. How many rejection letters did you get before you were published? It’s part of the game, as it is in all creative jobs. Ask an actor how many roles they auditioned for that they did not get! It is much worse for actors because they need someone else’s permission to practice their art. Writers can just get on with it. First I was rejected by an agent, on the strength of a bad manuscript. Then I found an agent, who sent it out, and the same bad manuscript, slightly improved, was rejected by about ten publishers. But the 11th met me and said this thing is rubbish, but you are a writer. Why don’t you write something that people will need and want to read? So by the time I had the first chapters of my next book ready that publisher had been sacked and his imprint shut down. But those chapters went on to become my first book. But when you are starting out you don’t need to worry about any of that. Write a lot, write for pleasure, write for joy, write when you are feeling thoughtful and write when your heart is full. At some point you will start writing for the story itself, for the readers it deserves, and that is when you cross over from wanting to be a writer to actually being one.

(Brilliant advice- thank you)

Turkey or goose? Goose! Turkeys deserve a break, and geese have it all their own way
most of the time.

Real or fake tree?  Real! You need that smell of pine needles. And there is too much plastic in the world.

Mince pies or Christmas pudding? Mince pies! Christmas pudding is more like a weapon than a foodstuff.

Stockings – end of the bed or over the fireplace? Over the fireplace. No one needs to wake up to find a man with a beard getting tangled up at the end of the bed.

(Hilarious *laughs out loud*!!)

Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve? Christmas Eve! Flying reindeer are so much more fun than hurtling police cars…

Thank you for participating in our author advent and have a very Happy Christmas!

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Find out more about Horatio at www.firefly.co.uk and follow Horatio on Twitter @HoratioClare 

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