TARZAN The Jungle Warrior Blog Tour

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ACHUKA is delighted to be the latest stopping place for Andy Briggs in his Tarzan The Jungle Warrior Blog Tour....


WRITING... AND THE END OF THE WORLD

I'm lucky enough to visit schools right across the country to talk about how I have re-booted Tarzan for a whole new generation of readers. Through an interactive presentation I launch the audience into the jungle - but before I do, I tell them about my job, and try to convince them that I have one of the coolest jobs around. I'm a writer - that's what I do. I get to play Tarzan every day. Curiously, during my entire show, I never mention the word reading at.

I know a lot of amazing authors can talk about the joys of reading and convert the most reluctant child into a bookworm, but my approach is somewhat different. I talk about what writers do. It might sound obvious, but, surprisingly, it isn't.

Let's start with comics. I love comics. Comics are the things that got me into reading. From The Beano, Whizzer and Chips, The Dandy through to Spiderman, Daredevil, The X-Men. Because they were a short-sharp thrill, over too quickly after 26 pages, I craved more - so started to read anything I could get my hands on. The more stories I read, the more I wanted to change the endings as, sometimes, I wasn't entirely satisfied. (I blame Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson for creating the Fighting Fantasy series which I was addicted to. They implanted the idea that endings can be different.) I started writing stories using other people's characters and my own endings. Thus I started to write.

Now, a year group of school kids gets to know that writers write books. That's obvious. But they sometimes look surprised when they discover that we write comics too. I can't draw, but I explain how my scripts paint the pictures of each panel so that a talented artist can come along and draw it.

Now put your hand up if you watch television... now there's a surprise. Oddly, a school full of children often overlook the fact that every TV show starts with a writer. From the writing team creating The Simpsons, through to EastEnders; and the advert breaks between shows; sports writers writing the introductions to live football matches; the unsung writing teams on Top Gear, I'm a Celebrity... and a host of other reality, sorry, scripted reality, shows.

And films. Horror, action, romance, comedies... we writers create them all. By this point, most of the audience gets the idea - of course writers do this. But then they're surprised when I point out that every song they listen to was written by a writer, often more than one. And every computer game they play has writers - yes, even Angry Birds has a document that explains the relationships between the birds and the pigs just so the artists and programmers get the tone right. The dreaded Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Halo and every other computer game you can think of involves, and often starts, with us writers.

When put into this context - that everything the children enjoy is written by writers - their interest is piqued. Could they be the next Robbie Williams, J.K. Rowling, Steven Spielberg or create the next blockbuster game? The answer is not only "yes", but they must. Without portraying writing as something that fuels our entertainment then the future might look bleak. Just imagine --

Every child who leaves school decides they don't want to write anything. Pretty soon computer games will cease to be. The internet will close down as nobody is blogging and adding new information; television will die as endless repeats will stop being watched. Cinemas will become Tescos because nobody is writing the next great movie. Bookshops will close down, and every radio station will be nothing but raw static because they have no new songs to broadcast. In a single generation, all that entertainment we currently enjoy will cease to be. The world will be a boring place.

That's why we need to convince the current generation that writing is a great thing to do. Now, I have not mentioned reading, because I feel writing will stealthily encourage people to read more: the more we create, the more we consume. And, after all, if you want to write a book, the best practise you can get is by reading them...

TARZAN: THE JUNGLE WARRIOR is out now, published by Faber.

Catch up with Andy's final tour stop on the Booktrust Blog.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on July 23, 2012 8:07 PM.

Margaret Mahy Dies | Children's Author Aged 76 | Stuff.co.nz was the previous entry in this blog.

Children's author Margaret Mahy dies aged 76 | Books | guardian.co.uk is the next entry in this blog.

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