WHEN LIFE GETS DARK…LET YOURSELF SHINE BRIGHT
An interview with Ian Eagleton
Artwork by Melissa Chaib
Can you tell us what Glitter Boy is about?
Glitter Boy follows an 11-year-old boy called James, who loves singing, dancing, poetry, and his nan. He is full of live, confident and energetic. He starts to experience homophobic bullying and we see the impact this has on his self-esteem, his mental health, and his relationship with his dad. But with the help of his friends, and his teacher and the LGBTQ+ community he begins to learn about who he is. James discovers that being happy and at peace with who you are can be a struggle, but that it’s a struggle worth fighting for. It’s funny, joyful, hopeful, and defiant.
I’m actually going to be doing a free school event with Scholastic on the 21st February at 2pm where I’ll be doing some readings from Glitter Boy and talking about LGBTQ+ history! You can sign up here: https://shop.scholastic.co.uk/scholastic-schools-live
What are your top tips for young writers?
- Watch And Wonder
One of my new picture books was inspired by our little boy. He had just started walking and was having a great time exploring the back of Nanny and Grandad’s shed at the bottom of the garden. I started to think about what could be behind the shed that was so intriguing for him. From there, an image popped into my mind of a little girl finding a baby unicorn at the bottom of her garden. This then turned into a story about a prince and a unicorn helping each other to deal with grief and loss. Do you see how even the smallest moments can inspire your writing if you watch and listen carefully?
- Walk In Nature
Most of my best ideas come when I’m out walking the dog or playing in the park or woods with my little boy. I often find myself talking to our son, describing the texture of the leaves on the ground, or the sounds of the birds or animals around us. This will often lead to a story idea and I will write myself notes on my phone so I remember them later. One of my favourite scenes in Glitter Boy is when James and Joel take a walk in the woods and spend time listening to the babbling stream and the dragonflies hover around them. There’s something healing and relaxing about being outside.
- Listen To Songs
When I was writing The Woodcutter and the Snow Prince, I spent a lot of time listening to Tori Amos. She has a lovely, mysterious song called WINTER which is all about growing up which immediately placed me in a magical, wintry frame of mind. I also listened to her Christmas album MIDWINTER GRACES which is very ornate, strange and magical and that helped me too. Try to find some songs or music that might link to what you’re writing about and doodle, draw and write while you’re listening to it.
Artwork by Davide Ortu
- Read Poetry
Whenever I’m starting a project I spend a few days reading poetry linked to the themes I’ll be exploring. For example, when I was writing Nen and the Lonely Fisherman, I spend a lot of time reading poems about the sea, poems about myths and legends, and poems about mermaids. It was actually an LGBTQ+ inclusive collection of poems by Rachel Plummer and Helene Boppert called WAIN that initially sparked my interest in writing a love story between a sailor and a merman. There’s something about immersing yourself in rich vocabulary and beautiful poems that really inspires me! I was really pleased to be able to challenge myself in Glitter Boy and write lots of poems from James’s perspective and have them woven through the story, developing the characters and helping to show how James is feeling at certain points.
Artwork by James Mayhew
What do you hope young readers take away from the story?
I hope readers of all ages take away a sense of how damaging bullying of any form can be and how negatively it impacts on people’s mental health. I also really hope they are set off on their own journey to find out more about LGBTQ+ history and maybe do some research into some of the trailblazers and icons mentioned in the story who have fought for our rights. Most of all I hope they get a sense that change is possible, that we can be accepting of others, that we can live freely and happily and that treating others with respect and kindness is just so important. Perhaps they might even decide to put some Mariah Carey songs on at full blast and dance their socks off!
Order your copy of Glitter Boy here: https://shop.scholastic.co.uk/products/139139?gclid=Cj0KCQiA2-2eBhClARIsAGLQ2Rk7Z20gDBnlaBA5GVHGG5HFLY2SxEymYRB-pmRPOD7_KotohuCKp30aAiTYEALw_wcB
Thank you so much, Ian, for this insightful and interesting Q&A. Ian’s books are all honest and emotive and, because of this, stay with you long after you’ve read them! I can’t recommend them enough!