When she was three years old my baby girl crawled on my lap in my study and asked me what I was doing.

“I’m writing a book,” I said.

“Well, that’s just adicalus,’ she said. She had heard her mother use the word ‘ridiculous’ (probably in relation to my efforts to build a patio) and it had become her word of the month.

‘Come on,’ she yelled, grabbing my hand, ‘let’s get out of here and do something fun!’

My little baby is 25 years old now and is halfway through a degree course in creative writing and comparative literature in London.

I don’t know when she discovered books were fun.

I like to tell myself that it was when I was reading her Pongwiffy the Witch and doing all the funny voices. But as her favorite authors are Ian Banks and Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Bukowski I think I might be delusional.

I don’t know when she discovered that writing could be as good as playing crocodiles. But I had been writing professionally for 15 years when I read her school essay on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and felt like giving up.

She got an A+ of course.

People have sometimes said she must be a chip off the old block but she really isn’t. She’s a completely new block made of a wood of much finer grain. She’s antique mahogany. I’m kind of the bent shelf in the garage.

I never encouraged Junior to write, or even talked much about it when she was growing up. I was more into playing ‘crocodiles’ at the beach (her sister would sometimes forget I wasn’t a real crocodile and try to hold my head under the water) or water fights or hide and seek.

I was a bit like Chandler Bing in Friends – they knew I had a job but they weren’t quite sure what it was.

pongwiffy, colin falconer, shakespeareSo do I want her to go into the writing business?

Well, yes and no.

I don’t even know what the publishing world will look like when she gets out of university.

A week might be a long time in politics, but in the modern publishing world go to sleep for a week and you’ve missed two new social networking sites and a vital marketing tool.

But as we speak there she is she is dissecting Homer’s Odyssey, reading The Tempest and Dante’s Inferno (usually in an afternoon) and is just about to start Beowulf.

She devours great literature like a whale trawling plankton. I am in awe.

So I don’t know. Will she write one day?

I hope so and I don’t hope so. I love what I do with an absolute passion. I love stories and the written word.

But there have been times writing has brought me so low that I once climbed out onto the windowsill and threatened to jump.

A mate had to talk me down.

From Pongwiffy to Shakespeare(This wasn’t such a big deal because my study is on the ground floor but I did knock over a pot plant.)

I do know this: I hope that one day the most important book in her library is not Homer or Dante or Shakespeare but whatever book she reads her kid at night.

I know it was for me, because I had junior and her big sister tucked under my shoulder at the time, and it’s the one book I’d give anything one day to read again.

With all the funny voices.

Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Egypt

‘Spectacular historical fiction blazing with intrigue, romance and dramatic action’

– Booklist




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I’m away for the next 3 weeks so there’s no newsletter this month – and I’m re-running the best of my very earliest posts that you may have missed. I hope you like them.

 Holy Week, Easter, Spain


About colinfalconer

author of bestselling historical novels like Anastasia, When We Were Gods, Aztec and Harem. My books have been published in the UK, US and ANZ and translated into seventeen languages.
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  1. Colin, you’re awesome. And so right, once again, about the most special book… Read to them, read to them and read to them.
    Thanks and regards from NZ.

  2. Julia Robb says:

    Colin, that was lovely.

  3. susielindau says:

    That is so great! There is nothing better when you can share in the same pleasures. I do believe there is a genetic link to creativity….

  4. I’ve never heard of Pongwiffy, but my favorite…to this day…is The Monster at the End of this Book. I also have a soft spot for Hooway For Wodney Wat (though I’ve never been sure why only three out of the four Rs were replaced with Ws). Anyway…good for you! It’s that time with our kids that matter the most…and will ALWAYS matter the most. You’re a good dad. But stay away from windowsills, okay? 🙂

  5. Debra Kristi says:

    That’s fantastic. I hope that my children someday find the same love for books and stories that your daughter has. Isn’t it just like a parent to revere their young. I have no doubt her talent shines. My son thinks he got his art (drawing) talent from me, but I can tell you what he does makes my work look like stick people. LOL.

    • So right, Debra, I couldn’t get past the first page of Ulysses and she read the whole thing in a week. And my other daughter manages a huge staff, juggles a dozen different tasks at once and has the patience of a saint – she certainly didn’t get that from me. I think all they got from me was their ability to hold their liquor!

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