Author Ian Beck: World Book Day
Our World Book Day guest this year was the illustrator and author, Ian Beck. Ian spoke to pupils in Years 6-7 about his work and writing. Ian’s career began with freelance illustration. He was commissioned to create the album cover artwork for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, for the then up-and-coming singer called Elton John. Ian later began illustrating children’s books when he became a parent and is best known for his picture books and illustrated children’s fiction, including books by Philip Pullman and Michael Morpurgo, as well as his own retellings of well-loved fairy tales. This led to Ian writing a longer book of tales based on fairy tales, The Secret History of Tom Trueheart.
Ian has now written several novels for children, in a range of genres, from The Haunting of Charity Delafield to Pastworlds, a darker novel set in an alternative London. Ian read some extracts from his latest book, The Carmody Casebooks, published last month, which is actually two stories in one volume. The stories are set in the Second World War, in Dorset and France, and combine elements of mystery and spy drama with historical fiction. In the book, both the English and German governments have established secret departments to investigate cases of the unexplained. Both countries are in a race to find individuals who have reportedly vanished years earlier only to reappear suddenly where strange beams of light have been spotted. The book is peppered with photographs and newspaper clippings that Ian created by “faking up” real photos and documents.
In answer to a student’s question, Ian revealed that if he weren’t a writer and illustrator, he’d have loved to have been an opera singer, and that his next idea for a story was inspired by a boulangerie in Paris, and a woman who seemed to sing greetings to her customers. Ian encouraged students who were interested in writing to make a start and see where their words took them; you can plan what you think you want to write but may be inspired to change direction in ways you never imagined.