Seven stories is a new Roaring Reads feature in which we ask a Scottish author to share a few stories about themselves.
It has been a busy spring for Lindsay Littleson, who celebrated the launch of her adventure story Guardians of the Wild Unicorns in February, and publishes The Titanic Detective Agency, on April 15 – we can’t wait to read it!
1) NEWS STORY (What’s the story with your new book?)
The Titanic Detective Agency is a middle grade historical mystery novel, which will be published by Cranachan Books in April. The main character is 12-year-old Aberdonian, would-be polar explorer Bertha Watt, who is travelling 2nd Class on the Titanic with her mother.
Bertha realises that some of the passengers are behaving strangely, and determines to unravel their secrets. With her new friend Madge, she sets up her own detective agency to try and find Johan’s hidden treasure and unmask the identity of the enigmatic Mr Hoffman. They have no idea that disaster is looming for Titanic.
2) SHORT STORY (Sum it up in five words)
Solving mysteries aboard doomed ship.
3) LIFE STORY (What’s your own story?)
For 28 years I’ve worked as primary teacher, a job I’ve absolutely loved.
I live in the village of Uplawmoor with my fantastically supportive partner Ian and Roo, our cute but noisy cat. My four children, Sally, David, Matt and Emily are living independent, grown up lives.
As a child, I was convinced I would grow up to be the next Enid Blyton, but real life got in the way and it took me a very long time to realise my dream of becoming a children’s author.
In January 2014 I finally began writing stories for children. I was a prize winner in a competition run by Mumsnet/Walker Books and my story Up in the Trees is Not For Me! was published in the Mumsnet Book of Animal Stories in October 2014.
In August of the same year, my first children’ novel The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean won the Kelpies Prize and was published by Floris Books in April 2015. The sequel, The Awkward Autumn of Lily McLean, was published in March 2017.
I have also written a historical novel for children called A Pattern of Secrets which was published by Cranachan Books in April 2018. Guardians of the Wild Unicorns, came out in February this year.
The writing, and everything that goes along with it, is beginning to take up a lot of my time, so I’ve made the decision to leave teaching at the end of June. Beginning a new career as a full-time writer is a scary, but exciting prospect.
4) LOVE STORY (What do you care about?)
I care very much about the importance of keeping council and school libraries open.
Every time a library closes or a school librarian is made redundant, this country slides a little further back towards the Dark Ages.
Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish born philanthropist, once said that ‘a library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people’ and so many libraries have been closed recently that the man must be spinning in his grave.
Libraries are a vital resource for the promotion of reading and culture and they are a crucial gateway for the digitally excluded.
Without libraries I would not have been a reader, as I was one of five siblings and a visit to a bookshop would have been far too expensive an outing. For children nowadays in a similar situation to mine, how will they ever discover the books that speak to them when the choice in supermarkets is limited to a few celebrity offerings? It makes me both sad and furious that libraries are being treated as an optional extra, when they make all the difference in the world.
5) ADVENTURE STORY (What was the story of your biggest adventure?)
Winning the Kelpies Prize in 2014 for my first novel, The Mixed Up Summer of Lily McLean, hurled me into the adventure of my life, because the prize was publication and by the following summer, I was a published author, speaking at festivals and doing school and library events.
Initially, it was terrifying, as although as a teacher I am used to speaking to children, the prospect of talking in front of adults was daunting.
Luckily, the lovely people at Scottish Book Trust run an excellent course on public speaking and it gave me some really useful tips and the confidence to give it a go.
Doing an event at the Edinburgh Book Festival was one of the most thrilling days of my life. Imagine the excitement of being in the same room as Jacqueline Wilson and Julia Donaldson!
6) OLD STORY (What were your favourite books as a child?)
I loved the idea of other, secret worlds co-existing with the human world, so adored Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree, The Borrowers, Watership Down and Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh.
In complete contrast, one of my favourite book character was Kate Ruggles in Eve Garnett’s The Family from One End Street. I shared her pain of having many siblings and no peace and quiet to read!
7) BEDTIME STORY (What’s your bedtime reading now?)
I’m currently reading Joe Lamb’s The God of All Small Boys. Joe and I were both shortlisted for the Dundee Great War Children’s Book Prize and I loved his original manuscript. It’s lovely to see it finally published by Cranachan Books, who have also published the winning novel, The Wreck of the Argyll by John Fulton, another fabulous read.
I’m very much looking forward to Ross Sayer’s new YA novel, Sonny and Me as the blurb sounds great fun.