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Inspiring the next generation of storytellers

On 7 December a host of children’s authors will kick off the holiday season with a Festive Children’s Book Fair at RAD. We caught up with one of the authors, former primary school teacher Ross Montgomery, to find out a bit more about his background and what he hopes to bring to young people visiting the fair.


Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming an author?

I was one of those children who always enjoyed writing my own stories, which I did throughout my childhood. That tapered off when I became a teenager, but when I turned 17 my older sister asked me to help her write a book. Although that never completed, I realised that I still very much enjoyed the art of writing. When I turned 21, I started my first role as a primary school teaching assistant. When it came to the summer holidays, I had six weeks of not working and found myself writing again, when I completed my first book. I continued to do this when school started up again, and things took off from there. I’ve now been an author for around seven years, and at the moment, I do around 100 readings at primary schools up and down the country every year.


What is the most rewarding part about being an author?

There are several things. I really enjoy coming up with ideas and seeing them evolve into something bigger. I also love it when there is an issue and then you suddenly develop an ‘ah-ha’ moment, that is insurmountable. On the school side, every time I do a reading, children get so excited about meeting an author. Many of them tell me about their own ideas that they have for books, and it is great to see young people getting inspired.


Where do you draw your inspiration from for your books?

Most of my ideas crop up when I am busy doing something else. Sometimes they occur when I am out walking, but I find my most fertile time to be 20 minutes after I’ve had my morning coffee. I always carry around a notebook so that I can jot down my ideas, and many of those ideas are seeds that become a book. I always tell children that if you sit behind a blank sheet of paper, it is unlikely something is going to happen, although it can.


What are you working on now?

I am working on five different books at the moment. I am editing one, and just about to start another. I also have two picture books at different stages of being finished. I expect in the next three or four years to have four new books out. I am also working on a novella, which is based on a Midsummer Night’s Dream. The story is aimed at children with dyslexia and is for ages eight and over.


Do you have a favourite author yourself?

It’s hard to choose just one – I probably have around 50 favourite authors. I love reading Neil Gaiman as I find him very well-versed in the history and culture of storytelling. He also has a real sensory understanding of what makes those stories potent and moving, and his darkness is just brilliant.


What do you hope to teach children from Newham attending the Festive Children’s Book Fair next month?

I can’t wait to see what the children get out of my readings and look forward to their pleasure and excitement at coming up with their own ideas.

For more information on the Festive Children’s Book Fair, and to book your tickets, visit https://www.rad-event.london

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