Steve Voake is not just one of my favourite authors, he’s also possibly one of my favourite people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
He was a lecturer on my Creative Writing course at university and always stands out when I look back on my time there. He took modules on Writing for Children and Young People, and I learned loads and discovered several new favourite books as I went along. It started well when one of our set texts was Where The Wild Things Are – you can’t really go wrong with that start!
One of the most important things I learned in his lessons was about how different people can get such different things out of books. I sort of knew this before but hadn’t really understood it until Liberty and I read two of the other set texts (How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff and Mr Gum & The Biscuit Billionaire by Andy Stanton) and hated them passionately. Well, we hated Mr Gum and found How I Live Now furiously frustrating. We turned up to our lesson all fired up with how hideous the books were only to discover that 1) Nobody else had bothered reading them and 2) Steve was totally surprised that we didn’t love them. His reasons as to why they were good were just as valid as our reasons why they were awful. In fact some of the reasons were identical we just had different feelings about them! It was a good debate and I learned a lot from it. I still think Mr Gum is a waste of paper though (sorry, Steve!)
When it comes to Steve’s writing, I love his novels for young people. I particularly fell in love with the world of The Dreamwalker’s Child and its follow up novel The Web Of Fire – Steve’s love of the insect world shone through and made everything that bit more vibrant. And the characters were brilliant.
I went to the launch of Blood Hunters in 2009 in my last year of uni and I loved how different that book was to the others I had read so far. It was a brilliant horror novel for young people and exactly what I had loved to read when I was 11 or 12 (and still now, if I’m going to be honest…)
It makes me laugh to myself that I can’t help but hear Steve’s voice in my head whenever I read his books – even now, five years since I last actually heard him speak in real life!
I have a copy of Steve’s non-fiction book Insect Detective which is now one of Tori’s favourite books. She is having an information book phase and the format and language in this one appeals to her massively and it makes me super happy that she loves it.
I’ve bought my god-daughter a copy of one of the Daisy Dawson books, too. Just to spread the love around – I treasure my copies of Steve’s books (several of which are signed – because I couldn’t not get him to sign them when I saw him all the time at uni!!) and I can’t wait until Tori and Arthur are old enough to discover his novels for older kids. Just so that I can share with them and revisit the stories all over again.