TV presenter and local resident reveals what inspired her latest book
writer, television and radio presenter and Chiswick resident, Clare
Balding, grew up in Hampshire surrounded by dogs and ponies.
ride before she could walk, and was obsessed with animals. In fact she
says that she and her brother felt they were definitely lower in the family
pecking order than the animals. "I've always joked with children
that I grew up thinking I was a dog."
book, The Girl Who Thought She Was A Dog, published for World
Book Day today (1 March), tells the story of a little girl called
Fennell who loves her dog Twiglet so much, she decides to act like her
pet. The book has been widely praised for its sympathetic depiction of
the strong bond that develops between animals and humans.
her spouse Alice live in Chiswick, and here she answers questions from
Chiswickw4.com about her writing life and how much books mean to her.
was the first book you ever read?
I can’t remember the first book I ever read but growing up my favourite
book to read and the one I probably read most was Black Beauty
by Anna Sewell.
you a reader as a child?
Yes, I loved reading so I was always taking a book off with me to a big
armchair or to my room. I liked the escapism of imagining another world
created by Roald Dahl or Enid Blyton.
are you currently reading ?
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I would recommend it as
the one book to read this year.
My short list would include The 100 Year Man Who Jumped Out of a Window,
Hunger Games, Me
Before You, War Horse and Black Beauty.
and her dog Archie
do you find time to read?
It can be difficult with a busy schedule but reading is always something
I make time for. I love reading to my niece, Flora in particular and she
makes me do all the different voices for her.
did the idea for your World Book Day book come from?
The Girl Who Thought She Was A Dog came about because I’ve
always joked with children that I grew up thinking I was a dog and then
in Jersey at their children’s literature festival I was asked “did
you realise you weren’t a dog yourself or did your parents have
to tell you?” The literal thinking of it made me laugh and I thought
- there’s a story in that.
you write in a structured way (eg time set aside) or when you feel inspired?
I do always write a plot arc and a character breakdown before I start,
I don’t always know the details of how it will end. I think it is
so important to care about the characters and what happens to them so
as well as the obvious points of a good plot and strong embodiment of
characters, you have to invest enough emotion into the creation of those
characters that you care about them as if they were real people.
to aspiring writers ( of any age)
Start writing as early as you can - I read a story the other day by a
7-year-old that was really good. The trick is to be open to adaptation
- writing the story is one thing but if you want to make it really good,
you will have to let other people read it and take on board their comments.
only half the work - rewriting is the key.