Five minutes with Cathy Cassidy
Published on: 02 April 2015
Book Trust talks to Cathy Cassidy who has just written a new book based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. We find out what the book is all about, here about her love for libraries, and get book recommendations.
Almost all of my books came from libraries as a child, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was no exception. I read it when I was eight or nine, and loved it; it was a perfect slice of fantasy and nonsense, a surreal world where anything could - and did - happen. I totally fell in love with the Tenniel illustrations and really wanted to BE Alice. I knew about the story even before I read it - even then, it was part of our childhood iconography. I've read the book many times since and each time take something different from it; when you read it as an adult, there's a much darker tone to the story which I tried to echo in Looking-glass Girl.
Can you let us know a bit about your new book and what happens with Alice in Looking-glass Girl?
Looking-glass Girl centres around a group of girls who go along to an Alice-themed sleepover... one that goes badly wrong. It looks at teen friendships, jealousies and insecurities... and bullying, too. The main character, Alice, battles to get well again, slipping between two worlds in the process... and trying to remember what and how she came to fall.
Do you have any tips for children who'd like to write their own version of Alice's story?
There is so much amazing imagery in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that you will be spoiled for choice; try writing about your version of a Mad Hatter's tea party, or include foods and drinks with those wonderful 'eat me' and 'drink me' labels. Write from the viewpoint of one of the minor characters, or imagine your character falling down a rabbit hole into a very different fantasy world... let your imagination run wild! My favourite way to start any new story is with a little daydreaming... gather up your ideas and inspirations and let them unfold in story form. Perfect!
You're an outspoken supporter of local libraries. Do you have any tips on what people can do to support libraries?
I think we all need to shout as loud as we can in support of libraries - before it's too late. Hundreds have been closed and hundreds more have been passed out of council control to be run by volunteers or private partners; still more have had their opening hours slashed.
Without libraries, I would not be an author now... and if we allow them to be closed we are slamming the doors of opportunity in the faces of the new generation. A society which values shopping malls and reality TV over libraries, learning and culture is a society that genuinely scares me. We can change things by using local libraries and protesting if they are threatened - and right now, in the run-up to the election, we can do more still.
We can write to senior politicians and tell them how concerned we are about library closures; we can write to MPs and party leaders too and make sure libraries are still a hot topic. The cost of running a library is high, but the cost of closing it is beyond measure... let's get writing!
If children enjoyed reading Looking-glass Girl, what other books would you suggest for them to read?
Well, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, certainly! Readers may also like my other books, especially the Chocolate Box Girls series. From other authors, I'd suggest the classic Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr; Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer; A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness; and for older readers, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.