I stopped reading!

Published on: 26 August 2020 Author: S.A. Patrick

The response to A Darkness of Dragons has been amazing. It's wonderful that the book has found so many readers, who have loved the world of the Pipers – I can't wait for them to return to that world, when A Vanishing of Griffins comes out in January!

A Darkness of Dragons

But let me tell you about something horrible that happened to me when I was eleven, the year I moved from primary to secondary school.

I stopped reading!

I loved to read – absolutely loved it – but I stopped. So what had gone wrong?

Part of it was that life was busy. It's not always easy to make time for things! The biggest problem, though, was that I'd started a book that I wasn't enjoying.

I couldn't understand why I wasn't enjoying it. The book should have been exactly my kind of thing – a space adventure, something I'd normally zip-through. But with this one, when I opened the book I would read five or six pages and...stop.

Before, I would read every single night; now, days would pass before I opened the book again, and then it would be even worse – I'd end up reading the same pages I'd already read, because I'd lost track of what was happening.

Any time I thought about reading – and about how much I missed it – I'd think about the book I was half-way through and my enthusiasm would vanish. It got worse and worse, and eventually the days without reading became weeks, and months.

Now let me tell you a secret. (Well, turns out that it's not really a secret, as most people seem to know this, but I didn't!)

You don't have to finish a book.

Give it a fair chance, of course, but if you're not enjoying it after the first couple of chapters, you can close that cover and never return. When you choose a book, reading it shouldn't be a chore!

But back then, I'd always finish a book. Always! It didn't occur to me that I could just say "No, not for me" and move on to something new.

So if you're not hooked by whatever you're reading, well... There are plenty of things that are going to grab you – all you have to do is find them. From novels to comics, fact or fiction, there's so much wonderful variety out there that your new favourite thing is already in the library, waiting for you...
That's what changed it for eleven-year-old me. I went somewhere I'd never been before: the school library. I couldn't believe there were so many things that caught my eye! The book I'd got stuck on for nearly a year went to a charity shop, and I didn't look back.

Now I write novels. And I have a trick: I make them as exciting as I can. I think about the reader, closing the book at night because they've run out of time, and I make sure they just can't wait to open it again the next day.

I want to write books that make readers excited about reading.

One last thing: when A Darkness of Dragons first came out, a friend of a friend got in touch. They told me that their kid had once loved reading, but had gone off it for almost a year. When they were given my book as a present, they loved it – and now they were reading more than they'd ever done before.

When I heard that, I just thought:

Job done.