Our chat with Elka…
We did a lot of reading aloud in my family. My mum read us The Lord of the Rings, the Narnia books, the Earthsea trilogy, Swallows and Amazons, Edward Eager, and loads of E. Nesbit, all of which we loved. Reading times were the only times we weren’t all trying to clobber one another, so I have very peaceful memories of these books.
My sisters and I loved to read spooky stories, together with my very young aunt. We completely terrified ourselves reading a book called A Candle In Her Room, and another called The Witch’s Sister.
I didn’t stop reading children’s books as I got older, and kept discovering new favourites, like Penelope Lively’s The Revenge Of Samuel Stokes and Jane Langton’s The Fledgling. Then I went through a bleak decade when I didn’t read any fiction at all, because I was just too busy with art history. This wasn’t good for my soul. I began to wilt. Just before I withered entirely, I stumbled into the children’s department of the public library in Lawrence, Kansas. (What a great library!) I was revived by the Menyms, the Penderwicks, Coraline and Arabella’s Raven, among others. Since then I haven’t stopped reading children’s fiction. My recent favourites include Cathrynne Valente, Sally Gardiner and Francis Hardinge.