Brought to Book: Laura Dockrill on the BFG, Struwwelpeter and why dead drunk men are her ideal dinner party guests
‘I see my writing as completely creative and free-flowing. I try not to attack it like work’
Laura Dockrill’s advice to writers: ‘Trust yourself. Share your work as soon as possible. Nobody else’s opinion is more important than your own. Be brave. Keep everything’
Laura Dockrill will be speaking at the Children’s Books Ireland conference The F Word: Failure on Saturday and Sunday, May 24th and 25th, at the Lighthouse Cinema, Smithfield, Dulbin, See childrensbooksireland.ie for booking. A graduate of the BRIT School for Performing Arts, Dockrill has been a Times Talent to Watch and was voted one of Elle magazine’s top 20 faces to look out for. Her latest book is called Darcy Burdock: Hi So Much, and is the first in a new series about 10-year-old Darcy, who is one of life’s noticers. Curious, smart-as-a-whip, funny and fiercely loyal, she sees the extraordinary in the everyday and the wonder in the world around her.
What was the first book to make an impression on you?
Tracy Beaker was the first book that I finished and remember identifying with properly, a character that I could relate to.
What was your favourite book as a child?
The BFG. It still is. I think the BFG is one of the kindest characters ever created.
And what is your favourite book or books now?
Still The BFG but I enjoy reading so much. At the moment I am a big fan of Maria Semple.
What is your favourite quotation?
“People think that I must be a very strange person. This is not correct. I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk.” Stephen King
Who is your favourite fictional character?
Who is the most under-rated Irish author?
I don’t know what you mean by under-rated! That’s harsh! Whoever I say will sound like they are not rated! Not answering this one!
Which do you prefer ebooks or the traditional print version?
Traditional print, of course. I love borrowing and lending books, seeing where people have folded the corners over, looking for chocolate-stained pages and caught hairs and picturing other people holding the books. I also am a visual person so for me the entire book is a work of art.
What is the most beautiful book you own?
This very beautiful book called The Busy Brownies that my uncle got me from a car-boot sale and it’s so old the pages crumble and disappear when you touch them. Inside a bossy Mum has written in pencil:
“If this book should chance to roam
box its ears and send it home...”
with the address below. It’s so charming.
Where and how do you write?
I write every day as much as I can. I do not panic if the ideas or writing dries up. I see my writing as completely creative and free-flowing. I try not to attack it like work. I see it more fluid than that. I write however is accessible and most enjoyable that day. from paper and pen to laptop. I am often on tour too so I write on the go quite a lot.
What book changed the way you think about fiction?
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept was the first time I had seen poetry and prose interlink so beautifully. I loved the chaotic streams of consciousness and sweeping beauty of every line.
What is the most research you have done for a book?
The one I am doing at the moment, my new series Lorali. It’s all about mermaids. I’ve set up a Tumblr to engage with readers during the research process writinglorali.tumblr.com Darcy Burdock took no research at all I just had to use my memory!
What book influenced you the most?
Struwwelpeter, German fairytales and moral folklore. I have seen the play too. It's amazing. I wish there were more children's books that were so dark and inviting.
What book would you give to a friend¹s child on their 18th birthday?
How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran
What book do you wish you had read when you were young?
Wonder by RJ Palacio
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Trust yourself. Share your work as soon as possible. Nobody else’s opinion is more important than your own. Be brave. Keep everything.
What weight do you give reviews?
Ha ha, I love good reviews. I hate bad reviews. No, really, take everything with a pinch of salt. I once watched a Beyonce video and underneath people were attacking her saying she can’t sing and she can’t dance and that she’s ugly and I thought “if people can be that wretched about Beyoncé, they can be wretched about anybody”.
Where do you see the publishing industry going?
It is fighting hard. There are some incredible publishers doing wonderful amazing work; brave editors creating brilliant stories and so many talented writers. Everything in media begins with a story so writers should always get work.
What writing trends have struck you lately?
I didn’t know there were writing trends.
What lessons have you learned about life from reading?
What has being a writer taught you?
That it’s hard to be on your own but your own company is the most important. That grafting is so important. To be kind. To be generous. To be yourself, you can’t hide in your writing, cracks will appear and your “world” will collapse.
Which writers, living or dead, would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Kerouac, Ginsberg, Julien Maclaren Ross, Patrick Hamilton, Hemingway...basically loads of dead drunk men
What is the funniest scene you¹ve read?
I am just reading The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton because basically the whole entire world has told me to read it and I’m just like “What is going on?” at every page so that’s quite fun.
What is your favourite word?
Naughty word: bitch not naughty word: Popcorn.
If you were to write a historical novel, which event or figure would be your subject?
I used to love The Tudors, head chopping off and affairs and kings!