“... After years of writing for adults, I found myself writing a children's book, Skellig. It was very exciting to be suddenly writing for readers who have such flexible minds and who can consider all kinds of possibilities. I felt that I'd come home as a writer.” David Almond on writing his first book for children
David always wanted to be a writer. His Mum told him how, when he was a baby, she would take him to visit his Uncle's small printing press, and he would point and giggle and smile at the printed pages coming off the rollers. It seems that his love of the printed word started at a very young age!
David starts his writing process with a large, thick-papered sketch book, in which he writes ideas for his work, jotting down key scenes, characters or motifs which engage him, and which he thinks are important to the book. David's drafts in the collection show that this early stage involves a process a bit like mind-mapping. It can look quite messy as the ideas, and all the connections between them, flow from inside his mind and out through his pen.
After getting his first ideas down on paper, David begins drafting the story on his computer. He will write the first few chapters and then print them off to read through, making notes about changes or revisions as he reads. Sometimes, his wife also reads over what he's written, and writes down her comments along with his. He then goes back to the computer and rewrites the story from the very beginning, writing a little more than the first time and repeating the same process of reading and revising. This iterative process leads to vastly different partial drafts which develop organically into a cohesive whole, which he will send off to his editor. His editor then reads through it and makes minor revisions, after which his work will be published.
David lives and works in Northumberland and many of his books are set in the North East. He is also a Patron of Seven Stories.
David Almond's first novel for children, Skellig, was published in 1998, to great acclaim. In writing for children, David had at last found his voice. Skellig won the Whitbread Children's Award and the Carnegie Medal; it has been adapted for stage and screen and even turned into an opera. Since then, in little over ten years, David's books have earned him a string of awards, including a second Whitbread for The Fire Eaters (2003).
In 2010 David received the hugely prestigious international Hans Christian Andersen Medal for writing. This is what the jury said of his writing: 'the jury has recognized the unique voice of a creator of magic realism for children. Almond captures his young readers' imagination and motivates them to read, think and be critical. His use of language is sophisticated and reaches across the ages.'
In 2008, David Almond donated to the Seven Stories Collection draft material for Heaven Eyes (2000) and My Dad's a Birdman (2007). David particularly wanted to donate the manuscript for Heaven Eyes, because the book is set in the Ouseburn Valley, in an old warehouse, eerily similar to the building which Seven Stories now occupies
David Almond was born in 1951 to a large Catholic family in Felling on Tyne, only a few streets away from where the Seven Stories collection is now housed. David studied English and American Literature at the University of East Anglia. After various jobs as a hotel porter, postman and labourer, he trained as a teacher and worked at a primary school in Gateshead for five years. While working as a teacher, he wrote and published several short stories for adults. Now, though, he is known as one of the UK's leading writers for children.