For me, writing is a life-changing experience. I’ve always treasured the ability to express thoughts and feelings through words, to give the chaos in my head and in my heart structure and meaning. It helps me stay grounded, balanced. It has taught me to analyze situations and think before reacting to them. Most of the times.
I am more of a non-fiction writer, although I love imagining a whole new world in a fictional story. Or temporarily living in the worlds imagined by my favorite authors. But as much as I love grown-up fiction, my deepest admiration and awe goes to writers of children’s books. I think it is much more difficult to write for these little humans. Children get bored easily, and they take no bullshit. That’s why there are so few exceptional writers of children’s fiction.
You can imagine how excited I was when Rosie, our dear friend who helps us with our copy every now and then, chose Roald Dahl for her first portrait. He is by far one of the exceptional ones.
Alice: Why did you chose Roald Dahl as your first inspiring person?
Rosie: The first books I read growing up were by Roald Dahl. I would stay up in secret after my bedtime and read his books over and over again and never get bored. He had this fantastic way of taking a simple idea and making it magical. Reading his books made me want to be imaginative. It made me want to be original. But also, his books provided an escape from our real, monotonous lives - a goal I aspired for in my own writing later on.
Alice: How did he influence your development as a person?
Rosie: It was these books that made me dream as a child and I had some whacky, out-of-the-ordinary dreams. It triggered my interest in reading and later in writing my own stories. When I was writing, I was free to create an entire world at my own leisure and explore life within. His books allowed the reader to gain insight to his imagination; to his escape from a difficult life. While these days I lead an ordinary life, I think back to those years very fondly.
Alice: Why do you think he is a good choice for our list, given the controversy about his antisemitic feelings?
Rosie: I think it is important to remember the time during which he lived. Dahl came of age on the brink of the Second World War, meaning he was recruited like every other young man at the time. It was a time that brought out the ugliest side of humanity which, in my opinion, is not an accurate representation of the individuals who fought in the war. Views were shared through the sheer volume of misleading propaganda and lack of information - a political climate we can relate to today. We remember Roald Dahl for his biggest impact in children’s fiction, even though he wrote a huge and diverse range of literature. His words on the page come from his mind - the most personal anyone can be is by sharing their imagination - and these stories are loved by children and their families regardless of their culture or beliefs. That is his true legacy.