Today on the blog we welcome ACW member Amy Robinson to the hot seat. It's a pleasure to have you join us Amy, and agree to answer our questions.
If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be and why?
Do they have to still be alive? Because I wish I could have met David Kossoff. His storytelling was extraordinary and has been inspiring me since childhood. Sadly I’m ten years too late for that wish to come true. Ooh, I know - Lois Lowry, my favourite children’s writer.
Have you met anyone famous? If so, in what context?
Hmmm...how famous?! My school choir used to provide the carol-singing at the turning on of Christmas lights in Bond Street, and there was always a celebrity to flick the switch and come to the party afterwards. But having my photo taken with Posh Spice wasn’t nearly as exciting for me at that age as meeting some of my favourite writers - Michael Morpurgo at school, Paula Danziger at a book signing (she told me she wanted to see my name on a book jacket some day!) and Adrian Plass at a talk he and Bridget did at Westminster Chapel when I was fifteen - and of course lots of times since!
If you could travel to just one country in the world, where would it be?
I’m not a great traveller, but I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland. It looks so beautiful, and has a rich Norse history that attracts the story-seeker in me.
What’s your favourite song and why?
It’s by Chris Rice and it’s called ‘Tell me the story again’: a beautiful, simple, passionate retelling of the Gospel.
What is your favourite colour and why?
Purple. No idea why.
Where is your favourite place to write?
Here at my desk, with the morning sun through the window and the sound of the guinea pigs nibbling next to me. Wish the desk were tidier, though.
Now for a few more in depth questions.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a performance storyteller and ventriloquist as well as a writer. I live in a rectory in Suffolk with the rector, two children (6 and nearly 4), two guinea pigs and too many puppets to count.
How did you get started writing?
I wrote my first poem when I was five, shortly followed by my first hymn (which went to the tune of ‘Five Little Speckled Frogs’!) I used to sit under the dining room table telling long stories to my soft toys. I think I’ve always been a writer!
Can you tell readers about your book?
My latest book was a Lent guide for families to use together, called Follow Me. It was published by Kevin Mayhew. It uses storytelling, activities, child-friendly prayers and hands-on challenges to explore every time in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus says the words, “Follow me”.
Why did you write this book?
I’m passionate about allowing and helping children to be a real, functioning part of the Church, rather than just colouring in and listening to the same small collection of safe stories. I wanted a Lent guide that wasn’t aimed at children, but would somehow provide a worshipful learning experience for everyone in any family - from children to great-grandparents - and help them to learn from each other as well. And I didn’t want to avoid the tricky parts, which is why one of the chapters is about Jesus’ saying “Take up your cross and follow me”.
What else have you written during your career?
I’ve published two previous books with Kevin Mayhew: Performing with Puppets, which is a handbook for puppeteers, and Tales from the Jesse Tree, a selection of 25 Bible stories for Advent with video and explanations on how to tell them and use them. I write regularly for GenR8, who provide Christian assemblies and holiday clubs, and I’ve also written online articles for Families First about storytelling the Bible. I’m currently writing articles about storytelling to very small children for a local magazine called St Edmundsbaby. Before that I wrote for Scripture Union’s Light for the Lectionary.
Have you got a favourite genre to read? If so why?
I’m not sure that I have. It’s like music, I tend to have lots of books on the go and my current mood dictates the one I reach for. Since having children, my most-read genre seems to be “anything I can read in five-minute bursts while half asleep”! I do love reading poetry, so recently Malcolm Guite’s Lent and Advent guides have been a big treat for me.
How would you describe your writing regime?
At the moment I get three and a half writing days per week when both children are at school and playgroup. As soon as the children are gone, I superglue myself to my desk chair, pretend the housework doesn’t exist, turn off Facebook and write like fury. That’s the plan, anyway.
Which writer or writers has had the most influence on your own writing?
That’s hard to answer because I write with so many different genres, audiences and purposes. David Kossoff, as mentioned above, and Bob Hartman are definitely big influences on my storytelling.
Where can readers buy your books?
In most Christian bookshops, by ordering them in any other bookshop, or online at www.kevinmayhew.com.