Why, hello again! Welcome to the UKYACX Middle Grade Tour! Today is my stop and I would like to welcome Simon P Clark. Simon is the author of Eren, a story that follows Oli, who believes that the adults in his life are keeping secrets. His Mum takes him into the country to stay with his Aunt and Uncle, but no one telling him why Dad isn't with them.
Now, when Simon and I got chatted on what today's post was going to be about, we talked about stories and why they are so important. Stories and the telling of stories is hugely important in Eren. And Simon was very kind to write this post asking why telling stories are so important.
Now, before I hand you over to Simon, I must thank him for taking time out to write this. And I want to thank Kerry for organising both UKYACX blog tours! Also, if you wanna check Simon out, you can check him out at http://www.simonpclark.com or https://twitter.com/sipclark.
What’s The Point of Telling Stories?
Let’s get down to it: authors will be some of the first to go when the zombie apocalypse comes. We like sitting in quiet rooms, staying up all hours, and thinking up things that never happened. When it comes to being practical, we’re pretty much last in the queue (except the crime writers. Never trust those guys). There’s something about writing that can even seem indulgent. With the world so messed up (looking at you, 2016) why should we spend any time worrying about books, and stories, and what they are? This question is especially important here in the UK, where government funding cuts have hit libraries hard, forcing them onto the defensive, suddenly justifying themselves in the face of bureaucratic penny-pinching.
It’s something I think a lot about. Why do stories matter?
Every culture has its stories. Myths and legends, fairytales and urban legends, tell us something about the society they spring from, but they also tell us something about people: no matter what, we like make believe. Impossible deeds, improbable heroes, fantastical and horrifying and thoughtful worlds – these are a universal thing, as natural to us as anything. Why? It’s easy to say that we tell them to share our worldview, to teach our morals, to show the world that we’re here and we’re original. It’s harder to understand just how stories work to tell us we matter, that – as others have pointed out – monsters exist, but they can be beaten. Truth is, stories – the good and the bad, the bold and the strange – make the world bigger and brighter. They show us things we haven’t seen before, and by doing that, broaden our minds. There’s a reason many people are pushing for more diversity in kids book at the moment: books are one of the first places kids learn to explore the world beyond their neighbourhood, to accept how magical things can be, how varied and massive and baffling. Yes, stories give us hope, but they also remind us that we’re small, a part of something bigger, stretching back through the centuries, and (we hope) reaching off into the far distance of tomorrow. I don’t think authors write books to feel immortal, but I wonder if we do it because we feel that stories are universal, stretching farther than we can in our lifetime, and that we want, briefly, to be a part of that chain.
Eren, my book, is about a monster – though I don’t know if he’d call himself that – who needs stories to live. That probably tells you how important I think they are. While I don’t think people need stories to live, I think people need access to books in order for a society to thrive. Libraries provide this, and when they close, we deprive people – people who often need it most of all – of free access to life-changing stuff. It’s sad, short sighted, and comes from a narrow, blinkered view of what matters.
So, what’s the point of stories? Do they empower us, fire imaginations, scare us, inspire us, distract us, change us, root us in our own history and place? Yes to all these things. Stories act as a thread that brings people together, and as a way of expressing things that matter. Knowing that someone on the other side of the world is reading my book is a strange feeling. In a world of Twitter, e-mail, and cheap flights, it’s still an oddly personal way of making a connection, of seeing that someone else can see the world like I do, has felt the same things. That’s something stories do better than anything: take two strangers, and let them say ‘You too?’ Books are a bridge, and there’s no chasm they can’t span. Stories make complicated things easy to grasp, and simple things resound with new depths and nuances.
Plus, they’re just good fun. Films are stories. Netflix is full of stories. They’re how we entertain ourselves. When people feel bored or down, we turn to stories – and they never let us down. That’s a rare thing well worth celebrating.
Here’s to stories – strange, slippery, brilliant things that they are.