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Sean Taylor

As a child

I grew up in Surrey in a big, quiet house with tall trees around it. From the age of seven I went to a boys' school in Wimbledon. I would put on a blazer, a tie and a cap, and take the 8.09 train along with the bankers and the lawyers travelling to work in London. I was probably being prepared to grow into one of these myself but (fortunately for them) it didn’t happen. I loved stories as a boy. I imagined everyone’s dad read Treasure Island to them and everyone’s mum would take them to the bookshop and say, “Choose two books you like.” Now I realize I was very lucky to have parents like that. At school, we read amazing Greek myths, but amazement was not encouraged. Remembering how to spell 'Aphrodite' and 'Cyclops' for a weekly test was encouraged. It felt as though our imaginations were shut in the lockers along with our damp PE kits. And one of the reasons that I write for young people today is because I've come to believe that going on adventures to imaginary places in stories is as important as learning how to spell.

As an adult

I went travelling from my early teens and, when I left school, made a journey to Zimbabwe. I spent nearly a year there teaching in a rural secondary school. Then I went to Cambridge University and studied English Literature for three years. After that I lived in London and zigzagged through different jobs including work at a publisher, writing for newspapers, teaching adults to read and write, and being a Literature Development Worker in east London. Through all that time I was writing poems and stories and I joined a group called The Basement Writers. At our meetings on Tuesday nights, in the basement of the old Town Hall on Cable Street in London's East End, I learnt more about writing than I ever had before. I also managed to continue travelling and have been lucky enough to get to know many countries. Writing is a good job for someone like me who loves moving around. (Or maybe moving around is a good lifestyle for someone like me who loves writing.) My wife Adriana and our son Joey now spend some of the time in Brazil, where Adriana is from, and some of the time in England.

As an artist

My writing started with poetry for adults. Then, as a local writer, I was invited to run poetry workshops in primary schools near where I lived. I enjoyed doing it very much and began to write for (and about) the children I was teaching. In 1989 I met a storyteller called Duncan Williamson. He invited me to a singing and storytelling get-together (a ceilidh) in his house in Scotland. I went, and came home with a new sense of what makes a good story. I started telling traditional stories myself. And I have been doing that ever since. My first written story for children came a few years later. It was about a goat with white teeth and it won second prize in the 1994 Independent/Scholastic Story of the Year Competition. Winning the prize encouraged me to write more for young readers and I've kept going. For a list of all my books pay a visit to my website www.seantaylorstories.com.

Things you didn't know about Sean Taylor

  1. I live about half my life in Brazil, and I spend some of the time thinking in Portuguese.
  2. I like going running but when I got round to buying some proper running shoes a few years ago the woman in the shop started laughing. She said "You've got the flattest feet I've ever seen."
  3. In Brazil I have a studio with lots of fruit trees growing outside it. There are two lemon trees, two banana palms, a cherry tree, a grapevine and a coffee bush.
  4. I collect ideas for stories on little scripts and scraps of paper and spread them all out when I start writing. Sometimes a gust of wind gets in and blows them everywhere.
  5. One of my favourite things is reading poetry.
  6. Once, at a carnival in Brazil, I dressed up as Robin Hood and fired arrows with poems on into the crowd. I have also dressed up as John Lennon, a punk, a businessman in a pinstriped suit, and a caveman.
  7. I was writing stories and poems for young people for seven years before my first children's book was published.
  8. I listen to music when I write. Usually music that is good to dance to.
  9. My favourite way to get about is by bicycle.
  10. I love going into woods and forests late at night.

Website:

Sean Taylor



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