This week we have interviewed the multi-talented Samantha Baines. She is an actress, comedian, broadcaster…and an author of brilliant children’s books featuring a deaf protagonist. Her latest book, The Night the Moon Went Out, is in January’s 4-7 book box. If you’d like to know more about what is in our January book boxes, head over here. But for now, let’s turn our attention to Samantha…
Why did you start writing books for children?
When I learnt about my hearing loss and started using a hearing aid, I realised I had never seen people like me on tv or read about characters like me in books. At the time, I felt so ‘other’ and alone. It is really important to me that children and young people see themselves represented on tv and in literature. I wish I had had that when I was younger. I feel really honoured that I now get to write books about deaf experiences like my own and bring some of the comedian side of me into them too!
How did you get your book out into the world?
The team at Bloomsbury Education had read my first book Harriet versus the Galaxy. They asked me to submit an idea for a book for their Bloomsbury Reader series. The Night the Moon Went Out, came to me almost immediately and luckily Bloomsbury said yes! I love the fact it’s a slightly shorter chapter book to encourage children who may struggle reading longer books or see them as too daunting. It was a fun process to write to a shorter word limit whilst still trying to bring the story to life.
Why did you write this book?
All of my books have deaf protagonists just like me and deaf awareness is really important to me. When I was younger I was always scared of the dark and when you take your hearing aid out at night, it makes everything even scarier as you wonder what sound clues you might be missing. I wanted to explore a magical answer to starting to love the dark and that’s when the moon and a talking owl came in! I love a bit of magic and I have always been drawn to the moon and the night sky which makes the perfect backdrop for a story.
Do you relate to any characters in your stories – which ones and in what way?
Yes! Aneira, my main character, wears hearing aids and has a charging port for them at night, just like me so I really relate to that experience. I think Mrs O, the talking Owl is rather funny so, as a comedian, I can relate to her too. My favourite Mrs O moment is when she asks what it is like to have human arms. That made me giggle when I wrote it.
I try to bring parts of myself to each of the characters I write but tweak things, normally to make the characters braver than I am. I love that Aneira is scared of the dark but still so curious at the same time. Unfortunately, when I was her age, I wouldn’t have been open to meeting a talking owl and jumping on it’s back for a ride . Just look at what I would have missed out on!
What’s your favourite book and why?
Such a difficult question! I love Amari and the Night Brothers by B B Alston and I can’t wait to read the sequel. Books that create their own world and have something of a touch of magic always grabs my imagination. I loved Michelle Harrison’s Pinch of Magic collection. I fell in love with the three sisters at the heart of the story. More recently I have been reading Sarah Painter’s Crow Investigations series which is dark and compelling. My absolute favourite book of the last few years has to be The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley, it’s so inventive and full of heart.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut, an actress and an author. Two out of three isn’t bad! (I am not an astronaut)
What do you want children to get from your books?
I would love them to be transported by the magic, giggle at the funny bits, and learn a little bit about hearing aids and deafness. I would also love deaf children to feel seen.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Go for it!
Finish this sentence for us…Reading from diverse bookshelves….
A message to readers of your book?
Mrs O says hi, she’s been waiting at the Owl Parliment for over a week to tell everyone how Aneira turned the moon back on but …
everything. is. going. so. slowly.
Also thank you for reading and please tell your friends.
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