Caryl Lewis has won Wales Book of the Year twice for her literary fiction and the Tir na n-Og Award for best children’s fiction. Seed, the story of a heartening and magical transformation, is her first English novel for children. She answered our questions about the book.
Seed is a story about the power of possibilities. Where did the spark for the story come from?
The idea came from two places. My love of gardening and my rather glorious Grandad. My Grandad was a farmer and inventor and whenever he’d encounter a problem on the farm, he’d invent a machine to fix it! He was relentlessly optimistic, and I thought he would be the perfect kind of Grandad to give Marty, a boy who has lost his sense of wonder.
How did you approach the challenges of maintaining a balance between real life and the impossible?
I love stories that actually *could* be true- that explore the magic at the edge of life. I was always drawn to those kinds of stories as a young reader. Technically, it was an exercise in keeping the tone steady and revealing the magic slowly. I think Marty also comes to realise that there is a powerful magic in the love of those around you, your community and in supporting one another.
You’ve previously written for stage and screen – how does that help or influence your novel writing?
I have been told in the past that my writing is very visual. And, many moons ago, I did actually draw and sell a few paintings. I think that using all of the senses when writing makes for a more rounded experience.
What do you like most about writing for children? What are the particular satisfactions of it?
You have an opportunity to fill children up with the good stuff before they go out into the world. By that I don’t mean morals or lessons, but with the ability to think and evaluate, with a little hope and joy. They are just stepping out into the world, and books can be weapons and armour, distraction and respite. They can be children’s safe spaces too and that is a precious thing indeed. Also, there’s that hope that engaged young readers become engaged adult readers.
This is also the first book you have written for children in English rather than Welsh. Does that affect the storytelling in any way?
I think writing in English for the first time made a difference when I was thinking about where the book would be set etc, but other than that the process was remarkably similar. A Welsh language version of the book will be available on the same publication day for readers who wish to read it in their first language. It has been adapted into Welsh by my Welsh editor Meinir Wyn Edwards.
Might there be more adventures for Marty and Gracie?
Ah! Now, there’s a question! Maybe? They do after all have that giant marrow knocking about!
Seed by Caryl Lewis, illustrated by George Ermos, is published by Macmillan Children’s Books, 978-1529077667, £7.99 pbk