From my childhood I have been an avid reader, and I read my way through most of the books in the children’s section of our local library before borrowing my mum’s tickets and working my way along the shelves in the adult section.
One of my favourite authors was William Mayne and I read many of his books, as soon as a new one appeared I would borrow it. Mayne was born in 1928 and published his first book, Follow the Footprints in 1953, before I was doing any reading!, and then The World Upside Down the following year. A Swarm in May was the first one I remember reading but he published many others including A Grass Rope which won the Carnegie Medal for the best children’s book in 1957.
Later when I was a teacher, a favourite book among the children I taught, and a favourite of mine was Earthfasts, which is a beautifully written and extraordinary novel combining myths and legends, fantasy and ghosts in a really compelling story.
However, in 2004 he was sent to prison for sexual offences against young girls – horrifying and abhorrent, and I couldn’t bear to read his work any more because I always thought of the terrible things he had done. He died in 2010 at his home.
I have since found out that he wrote two subsequent books following on from Earthfasts, Cradlefasts and Candlefasts. As anyone would who has a favourite author, I wanted to read them just as I want to read everything by any favourite author of mine… There must be so many pieces of art, pieces of music, books, poems, created by people whose lives were tainted by some wrong they committed – should the art, music, novel, poem stand separate from the person who created it? I have thought about this for a long time, wondering whether to get the books… and in the end I decided I would read them and I have bought them.