Nicola J. Rowley – Interview
The cultural narrative about the electronic media influencing the younger generation has met with a lot of criticism. The technophobes blame the screens to have wrecked the penchant for books, the necessity to revive the love of words in people is always the talk of the reading circles, and the requisite to read remains as significant and important as ever. Reading is a habit that is not just a source of joy but a way to connect with ourselves, our instincts and essential human values. Reading with children or for them can help them learn to love the sound of language, stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand human values.
Nicola J. Rowley is an English writer who has ventured into the world of children with her first book James and the Amazing Gift. We spoke with Nicola and learned more about her passion, her inspiration and the impetus behind the book.
Q: Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to be a children’s writer?
Nicola J. Rowley: I was born in Basildon, on the outskirts of London in the UK, and was lucky enough to have some great teachers both at primary and secondary school who both inspired and helped with my love of the written word. From the age of seven, I remember my aunt asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up – a writer or poet was the answer. Somewhere along the way, that dream was shelved as I became a journalist, radio newsreader, TV producer and reporter, before moving into Communications. In between it all, I also launched my own photography business, specializing in children and families, weddings and commercial imagery. When my son was born, within weeks I started reading to him. It makes me incredibly happy to see the enjoyment he now gets from turning the pages, learning new words and going on special adventures. I would love to help others instill a similar love of books with all the children that they know.
Q: What is the theme of your book James and the Amazing Gift?
Nicola J. Rowley: The story focuses on a little boy called James who loves to smile and spread happiness wherever he goes. It looks at how acts of kindness can have a big impact on others and how even a smile can really brighten other people’s days.
Q: Do you believe that there’s a need to have more books that channel the idea of human goodness amongst young readers?
Nicola J. Rowley: It’s been scientifically proven that children smile much more than adults as they approach the world in a more positive and unspoiled way. Yes, it is a good idea to instill kindness from an early age. We’re all in this world together and it’s good for young readers to know that it’s a good thing to look out for others.
Q: You have partnered with the UK charity ‘Contact the Elderly’, what is your motivation behind that and how do you translate that into your work?
Nicola J. Rowley: I hadn’t heard of Contact the Elderly until I volunteered for one of their tea parties and saw for myself the difference their work is having on older people. Having spoken to some of their members, they say the charity provides a lifeline for them as they have grown older, their friends and family are no longer around, and they are increasingly isolated. Anything that can be done practically to tackle loneliness in older people is a good thing. After all, we will all be old ourselves one day.
Q: Who is your favorite children’s writer?
Nicola J. Rowley: It has to be Roald Dahl. I remember vividly the day when I was first introduced to Revolting Rhymes and I fell in love not only with his work but poetry too. He had such an amazing imagination which translated into some of the best children’s books ever written such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG.
Q: What are your plans for the future? And what are the storylines you would like to work on in the future?
Nicola J. Rowley: I am in the process of finalizing the second James and the… story in the series, and have written a couple more picture book texts too. I am also currently writing my first Middle-Grade story for 9-12-year-olds. It’s incredibly special to me as it’s a tribute to my dad, who sadly passed away at the tail end of last year. He was a great bedtime storyteller and I used to love hearing about the characters that he dreamt up just for me.
Q: How and where can we find your book?
Nicola J. Rowley: James and the Amazing Gift is available both as a paperback and an e-book on Amazon.com, so I think that will be the easiest way for anyone in Dubai to be able to get hold of it.
Q: As a writer and a mother what advice would you like to give to parents and young readers?
Nicola J. Rowley: Please start reading to your children from the moment that they’re born. They’re never too young and it has been by far the best thing that I’ve done as a mom. Passing on a love for books is incredibly important and can help set your children up, not only for a love of learning but a wonderful imagination. They’re not children for long, so anything that can create magic in their minds, the better.
James and the Amazing Gift by Nicola J Rowley is available at Amazon.com