Writers\' Forum - 04.2020

(Darren Dugan) #1

ONLY CONNECT Christopher Lloyd explains to Anita Loughrey the inspiration

behind his children’s non-iction books and What on Earth wallbook timelines




y career began as
a journalist on The
Sunday Times. When
I was irst looking
for a publisher, I found that a
journalistic training was fairly
highly regarded by editors,
especially as the cardinal sin
in journalism is missing a
deadline. So I think it’s a good
pathway into non‑iction.
After 10 years in newspapers
I was asked to head up an
educational publishing
company in Oxford, which I
did for ive years. During that
time my wife and I had the
experience of home-educating
our two daughters. We hadn’t
been able to ind a creative
school near to where we lived

  • all they were interested in

was making sure the children
passed their tests in reading
and maths. My children were
bored and frustrated.
Our home-educating
experience taught me that
all the life skills you could
possibly want a young child to
know are much better learned
through allowing them to
explore knowledge through
their own interests rather
than be told by adults what it
is they ‘need to know’. I ind
it laughable to think adults
can ever possibly know what
children today ‘need to know’,
especially since most of the
jobs they will do in the future
haven’t even been invented yet!
We soon realised that in
order for children to explore

learning through their own
natural curiosity, knowledge
needed to be stitched back
together again, not chopped
up into separate subjects and
curriculums. After all, the
brain is not divided into
separate sections for maths,
music, art, languages, history,
science – how absurd.
So my books became all
about ways of connecting
knowledge into giant
narratives – which is why
my irst book, What on Earth
Happened?, explored, in a single
volume, the story of the planet,
life and people from 14 billion
years ago to the present day.
I wrote the original proposal
for What on Earth Happened?
as a children’s book, but when

Bloomsbury bought the rights
they wanted me to write it for
adults, so I had to change tack.
It’s fabulous for me that,
10 years later, the original
concept has now inally
been published (and entirely
re‑written) as a children’s book:
Absolutely Everything! A History
of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers,
Robots and Other Things Too
Numerous to Mention.
The irst Wallbook Timeline
books were my irst children’s
books and they were written
as a result of my home-
educating experience. I stuck
16 pieces of A4 paper together
and started drawing pictures
and writing captions. Three

Continued overleaf

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