We caught up with Emma Jane-Leeson, author of the Johnny Magory book series, to see why she loves reading, her favourite books and why she is so excited to support the MS Readathon.
Tell us about your love of reading?
I had the most amazing childhood which was jampacked with outdoor adventures and books and stories.
My mother read to us from the moment we were born and it’s easy to see the benefits of her doing that. Myself and my siblings all have pretty wild imaginations and spirits that I believe is directly attributed to the books that were read to us and that we subsequently read growing up.
It’s a tradition I carried on with my own children and developed a routine of reading to them since day one. Our bedtime routine was mam reading us a story from a book and then dad telling us a story about Johnny McGory. He basically made up a highly imaginative version of whatever we had done that day and it was always peppered with talking animals and trees. Nowadays my reading pattern hasn’t changed to much. I love reading children’s books still or else biographies.
What made you want to start writing books?
My parents, mam especially, always encouraged us to tell stories and write them down. I remember winning the ‘Write a Book’ competition in second class, a story about Dinks the Dinosaur (I was obsessed with Dinosaurs!) so I suppose that’s where it all started really!
When my eldest daughter was born in 2004 I wrote down a few Johnny McGory stories one night and then left them in a box for 12 years until my 30th when my mam encouraged me to “do something with those stories you’ve written down”! I self published the first Johnny Magory in the Magical Wild as a pure hobby following the nudge from my mother and, well, I was bitten by the bug then!
What are your top ten children’s books?
In no order:
Don Conroy – The owl who couldn’t give a hoot
Roald Dahl – Revolting Rhymes
Roald Dahl – Matilda
Dolores Keaveney – The Little Sunflower Seed
Abi Elphinestone – The Dream Snatcher
Kevin Doyle and Spark Deeley – The worms that saved the world
Jon Klassen – I want my hat back
Dr Seuss – Oh the places you’ll go
Sandol Stoddard Warburg – I like you
Benji Bennett – Before you sleep