Read Raw Ltd

 

Promoting Creative Writing in Scotland

 

Featured Author

 

 

 

Franzeska Ewart

 

 

                             

 

 

I was born, in 1950, in Stranraer - a small town by the sea in Galloway. I spent my childhood in the countryside and down on the seashore and I still like to be there and wander about in the woods and along river banks.

I left school to study Medicine at Glasgow University. Being the biggest hypochondriac out, I found Medicine very difficult and eventually changed to Zoology which was much less worrying!

For a while I did medical research, then decided I wanted to teach. I didn't fancy Science teaching though, so I did a year at Jordanhill and got my Primary Teaching Certificate.

I used to live in Glasgow, but in November 2007 I moved to the Renfrewshire village of Lochwinnoch and now live there - full-time with my cats Lily, and her son The Woozle, and part-time with my partner Adam McLean, who writes and publishes books about the symbolism of Alchemy. He also collects tarot and in April 2009 mounted an exhibition of Japanese Tarot in the Glasgow School of Art.

I love gardening, walking and cycling, painting, writing, frogs and cats - though not necessarily in that order.

Most of my teaching life has been in a multicultural Primary school called Glendale in Pollokshields, Glasgow. I was always interested in the way bilingual children learn English. I'm 'bilingual' myself - my grandmother (whose name I inherited) was German, and my mother grew up in German-speaking Switzerland, so German was her mother tongue. I think it's fascinating how you seem to use different parts of your brain for different languages, and how differently you think when you're using a language which is not your mother-tongue.

 


What first inspired you to write?

 

I’ve always loved the sound of words, and where they come from, and the effect they have. And I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of creating my own little worlds. I’m an only child, and all my life I’ve made up stories, and drawn pictures to go with them.


What inspires you now?

 

Reading really good books is the main inspiration. And people I meet – mainly, in my case, children – provide inspiration for characters. The latest book I’ve written was inspired by a girl I taught a few years ago. I loved the way she had with words, and her personality really appealed to me.


What advice would you give to a new writer?

 

Read the very best books you can get your hands on. If you want to write for children, research your market thoroughly. Sadly, these days especially, you need to write for a market – till you’re incredibly famous, that is!


What are you writing

 

The book I just mentioned (the title’s still not quite decided) which is a sequel to ‘Sita, Snake-Queen of Speed’ which I wrote a couple of years ago for Frances Lincoln. This publisher specialises in books with ‘multicultural’ themes and characters. Having taught English as an Additional Language for many years, the children who people my books tend to come from a Pakistani background. Also, having spent time teaching in Pakistan, that country and its people are very dear to my heart.


What are you reading now?

 

I’m reading TWO books just now (which is very confusing ...). One is The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald – because I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read it) and the other is Any Human Heart by William Boyd.


Who is your favorite literary character?

 

In children’s books, it’s Winnie the Pooh. I love A A Milne’s 2 Pooh books, and they have always influenced my own writing. I love the personalities of the animals, their humour and their subtlety. The Pooh books are much more ‘adult’ than they’re generally given credit for being. Particularly by Disney ...

 


What future projects do you have planned?

 

I’m currently researching for a radio play. I’ve never written one before, so we’ll see how it goes ...


What interests do you have outside of writing?

 

Music, birds, and gardening are my main loves. I play flute and recorder, and I’m in the Scottish Recorder Orchestra, in which I currently play tenor and bass.

I moved to Lochwinnoch 2 years ago and I love the countryside - the river and lochs – and all the wildlife.


Any last words of wisdom?

 

‘Children’s writers should never talk down to their audience’ would be one.

And ‘Be prepared to take criticism and learn from it’ would be another. It can be extremely tough, dealing with publishers!

 

Visit Franzeska's website for more information.   http://www.franzeskaewart.com/

 


Bibliography

 

A picture's worth a thousand words.

 

 

 


Extract from Fire Mask

 

This extract comes from Fire Mask – which launches March 7 at Books in the West. ( www.booksinthewest.com

 

The background to this book is that it was commissioned by Barrington Stoke, to be written with 200 Midlothian schoolchildren! It was an amazing project, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a huge amount.

Before I started, I really didn’t know whether I could work in this way, and I worried that the ideas in the book wouldn’t actually come from the children – that I’d end up paying lip-service to them, and just writing what I wanted as I normally do.

But I’m very pleased to say this didn’t happen. I was genuinely influenced by the children – they were true ‘co-authors’ – and I think the book’s turned out very well for us all.

 

See here http://www.barringtonstoke.co.uk/content/v2_je09_2728.pdf for more details

 

 

                                   . 

 

Josh's life is devastated when his father's flown home from Iraq with his face severely burned. The worst thing about it all is that no one yet knows how bad his injuries are. His face - or what's left of it - is hidden under a white burns mask.
And there's no one Josh can turn to with his worries - Mum retreats into her vodka, Gran knits endless awful jumpers, and baby brother Larry (aka 'The Demolition Man') tears, bites and kicks everything in sight.
Even Josh's best friend Sandy's acting strangely, and he can't understand it. Why has she suddenly teamed up with the class bully? And why have the two of them just played the cruellest of tricks on him?
It seems all Josh has got now is his dog Dexter - and the diary his counsellor Carol-Ann's persuaded him to keep. And as he struggles to keep his feelings of fear and rage bottled up, life spirals frighteningly out of control ...

 

Extract

 

Day 4 – Josh’s diary

 

My whole body’s aching tonight, and I’m covered in cuts. My eyes just want to shut, but I really need to write this.

I need to write it, to make sense of what happened today. So that tomorrow, when I tell the police, I tell it right.

I’ll start with the nightmare. Because if it hadn’t been for that nightmare, maybe the whole thing wouldn’t have happened.

 

I’m in school, walking down the dark, endless corridor. Suddenly there’s a flash, and everything’s bright white.

Then Dad, in an electric wheelchair, wheels across the corridor in front of me. He’s not wearing a mask, but I can’t see his face. I try to shout ‘Dad!’ but nothing comes. I run, try to follow him. But he’s gone.

Then Larry appears, wearing a white mask. He’s got something in his hand. A picture of Dad.

‘Don’t!’ I shout, because I know what he’s going to do. But he doesn’t listen.

I watch as he tears the picture into little pieces. They float to the ground like snowflakes. As I go to pick them up, I see them moving together again.

Dad’s face is looking up at me, and all the rips in the paper are red, ugly scars.

Now Larry’s running away, laughing. Hundreds of masks are snowing down on him. The floor’s white with them. He reaches the end of the corridor, throws away his mask, and disappears. His laughter echoes back to me.

Now Dexter’s beside me, wagging his tail and barking. Wanting out. We run together, down the corridor. I hear the masks snapping and crackling beneath our feet. It’s a good sound.

On we run, Dexter and me. Past the office, down the steps, out of the school.

The sky’s black and filled with stars. There’s a full moon. I see Dad’s face in it. I think, ‘Even the man in the moon’s got scars’.

Dexter’s still barking, wanting his ‘walkies’. Suddenly I think of all the good times Dexter and Larry and me had with my dad, before he got blown up.

I wake. Anger’s blinding me.

 

I was so angry when I woke up, I wanted to smash something. I picked up my pillow, banged it down on my bed, over and over. As I did, I imagined that pillow was Tiffany and Sandy.

How dare they give me such a bad nightmare? How dare they?

Wildly, I looked round my room. Searching for something to break, to rip, to destroy.

I remember thinking, ‘This is what Larry must feel like, when the anger gets too much for him.’

I pulled out my old toy box, found a couple of plastic models, snapped off their heads.

It only made the anger worse. I looked in the box again, saw the old Hallowe’en mask, pulled it out.

I’ve had that mask for years. It’s one of those rubbery ones, and it’s pretty hideous. It’s got sea-blue skin, bloodshot eyes, and fangs like the bloodstained horns of a bull.

And the hair’s red and yellow, like flames swirling in a bonfire.

I stared and stared into the eyes of the mask. And the more I stared into those fiery eyes, the angrier I felt. As though the mask was sending its anger out, to join my own.

Those eyes had such power! I honestly felt as if they could burn two holes right through my flesh and bones.

‘It’s what fire would look like, if it was a face,’ I thought. ‘It’s a Fire Mask.’

I put the Fire Mask on, and looked in the mirror. And that was when the brilliant idea came.

The brilliant idea that nearly killed Sandy ...

I got dressed. I put on my black top with the red skulls. I knew it would look good with the Fire Mask.

I went downstairs. When Mum saw my top, she didn’t say anything. She just banged my cereal bowl down in front of me.

I ate my breakfast. I left for school. The Fire Mask smouldered in my jeans pocket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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