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The Popcorn Sessions featuring Amber Lee Dodd

11 July 2016

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Welcome to the Popcorn Sessions! Every month we invite a young people’s reading groups to interview an author of a new young adult fiction title. This month Books and Biscuits from Hove in East Sussex interviewed Amber Lee Dodd.

What was your inspiration for the book We are Giants?

When I started writing We Are Giants I had been working in a school as a Learning Support Assistant. I helped mostly with children with physical disabilities and learning difficulties. I think it was then as an aspiring writer, I began to notice the lack of stories with disabled characters with independent lives. Then one night I woke up with the idea of Amy and Sydney. I could hear both of their voices and I knew that Sydney wished she could be little like her Mum and Dad. I had had lots of ideas for stories but I knew this one was special, so the story grew from there.

Are any characters based on real people?

I think some of them may be inspired by real people. I did have a very scary teacher like Mrs Pervis. She did make me stand on a chair with my hands on my head and did slap a ruler down on the desk if she thought you were talking. I was absolutely terrified of her! Thankfully I also had some lovely teachers too though.

What is your favourite part of the book?

Definitely the part where Sydney goes back to the flat in London and Gran tells her about losing her husband. That part is about grief and saying goodbye and I wrote it not long after my own Grandma had died. I redrafted that chapter again and again to get it just right, and every time it made me cry.

What part was the hardest to write?

I think the fire and the furniture competition where the hardest to write. The beginning of the book came so quickly and the first chapter is 90% identical to my very first draft. I also had a very clear idea of the ending early on. But the big events like the fire and the competition took a little more redrafting to get right and really up the tension.

What/who inspired you to write about dwarfism?

I worked with children with physical disabilities including dwarfism. Being a little bit shy, working with children was jumping in the deep end for me. But I really enjoyed working for a charity and working with children with disabilities in a school. I worked with some real characters and I definitely think they helped inform and inspire We Are Giants.

Which character would you bring to life and meet if you could?

Oh good Question. Probably Jade, she could teach me how to be cool! Plus I think we could get into a lot of trouble and maybe she could help me dye my hair pink.

Which is your favourite character?

Oh no, this is like asking your Mum is she prefers you or your sister? I love them all. But I must admit I have a special spot for Gran as she made me laugh out loud writing her lines. She could be so wonderfully mean!

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