Frank Cottrell-Boyce has been a screenwriter on Coronation Street, written films for Danny Boyle and Michael Winterbottom, and even scripted the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics – but first and foremost, he regards himself as a writer of children’s stories. He talked to Red Szell, RNIB Connect Radio presenter, about some of the books of his life.
I first read ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Bernard Sendak when I was very little. The book completely made me, but not quite in a way that you might think. After I read the library’s copy, I didn’t see the book again for years so, crazily, I thought I dreamt the story. I went around with the story in my head, thinking I’d made it up. When I was old enough, I told myself I’d write it and be really famous. I had a big opinion of myself because I’d spent years thinking I was a genius.
That would be ‘The Wizard of Earthsea’ by Ursula Le Guin. I first read it when I was off school sick. I was tucked up in bed and the rain was pouring down outside. It’s a book about a school for wizards, but there’s something really strange about it. I really believed the magic in the book and the hero of the story was amazing. If I dip into that book, I’m happy.
I think it would be ‘Landmarks’ by Robert Macfarlane, which is about the English countryside. An important aspect of the book is the words used to describe things. It’s almost like a dictionary of local or lost words for things that you don’t notice, but because you’ve got a word for it, you start to notice them. In a similar way, it’s a kind of a magic book because these words are like spells.
One word that’s stuck in my head and that I have used a lot since reading the book is 'smurve', which means the little tunnel that badgers make when they walk through the undergrowth and you can see where they’ve walked.
This article originally appeared in Connect magazine - Autumn 2017 edition.