Crossing the divide from children’s books to adult fiction
This article is from 2011.
Since penning his first children’s novel, 1998’s Whitbread Award and Carnegie Medal-winning Skellig, David Almond has been lauded as one of the UK’s greatest authors for younger readers. In 2010, the Skellig prequel, My Name is Mina, had critics falling over themselves in praise, lauding Almond as much more than simply a ‘children’s novelist’. And this year, the author is finally crossing the literary age divide with his first novel for adults, The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean, which he’ll be discussing in Edinburgh.
The book focuses on Billy, a boy who has grown up in seclusion but is eventually forced to confront a post-apocalyptic society when his father disappears. ‘It’s written in a kind of misspelled English,’ Almond explains. ‘Billy can’t write. He’s been kept in isolation so in the process of writing his story, he’s also discovering himself and the world through the act of writing.’
Almond’s audience might be changing but his approach to writing isn’t. ‘Like most writers, I write the kind of books that I want to read. Obviously you have to think about your audience, but I am my first reader and I have to make sure that it satisfies me. But I’m also aware of wanting to experiment more, which is one of the things that led to Billy Dean. As a writer, you’ve only got a certain number of books you can write, so you’ve got to make sure that you’re really challenged by each one.’
And he’s eagerly awaiting his Edinburgh appearance too: ‘I love Edinburgh, it’s my favourite book festival. There’s a real excitement that’s generated by so many events going on in the same place. But you get the sense that the festival itself is generally interested in the world beyond Charlotte Square Gardens too.’
29 Aug, 7pm, £7 (£5).