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.