… is a peculiar talent. Not everyone has the skill; I don’t have the ability to write fiction for children, that much is certain.
Neil Gaiman (an author hero of mine) is constantly amazed that writers seem to have forgotten how to write fiction of a similar ilk to what they themselves enjoyed when they were kids. I take his point; perhaps I have forgotten, but to a degree, I’m rediscovering it, as my son and I read together every day. I get to see what he enjoys to read and what makes him laugh.
It’s not made me want to write children’s fiction, I have to be honest; just because I’m learning what does entertain kids doesn’t mean that I actually want to write it. That said, I’m intrigued enough to want to try and find a way to write something that interests children.
But then I was inspired; my son is an endless source of questions (and I mean ENDLESS) about the world, life, and everything you could possibly imagine. There are questions that children often ask – “Does Santa Claus exist? How did life begin? Where do babies come from?” – and others that are rather more unexpected; “What religion am I? What’s Brexit? Why do people have sex?”
My answers fall into two categories; I either feel incredibly confident answering it, and my son tells me that he’s happy with the answer, or I entirely fumble it, and can sense that I leave my son wanting to know more. I know that I’m not alone with this, so I want to do something about it; I want to try and answer the questions children so often ask, in a way that children find interesting.
I’ll be collaborating with my son on this, as he is the best critic I have; he can tell me what he wants to know, and he can judge my attempts at answering it in the most honest way he can – which I know he will be in the way that children can so often be brutally frank with their parents in some respects.
But I want to get as wide a reach as possible with the questions we ask and answer, so let me put a wide-ranging question out to you, the readers. As a child, what did you want to know? What questions do you get asked by your own children?
I’ve got a little black book at the ready, and I’ve already filled two pages with questions from my own son. A sample;
“What makes you balance and not dizzy?”
“What is the big bang?”
“What’s the best joke ever?”
“Why do people have allergies?”
“Why do people die?”
“Who is the best kids’ author in existence?”
He is fascinated by the world, and so he should be; children are natural scientists. They want to learn about everything and anything, and aren’t afraid to ask the big questions, the little questions, and every question in between. They deserve to be answered, as to discourage children from asking questions is a terrible crime. I want my son to ask questions about everything and anything for the rest of his life, and to never feel like he can’t ask something – even if I can’t answer it, there’s usually a way to find out (Google).
So it’s time to answer some questions; let’s see where this leads.