Wednesday, 02 May 2018 Caravanning with Avril Rowlands and other best memories

Popular children’s writer Avril Rowlands has a new story, The Journey Begins – out this month! It’s the first in a new series The Animals’ Caravan that follows the adventures of Caravan Bear and friends. They meet new friends and share Bible stories.

Here’s an interview with Avril about her new book, caravanning, and other best memories:

What inspired you to write The Journey Begins?

A number of things, but mostly, having a caravan with all the fun of taking your home off with you, meeting different people and exploring different places. Also, Christopher Rabbit and Caravan Bear themselves inspired me to write the book.

Who is Caravan Bear?

When my husband, Chris, and I started caravanning, we rescued Caravan Bear from a friend who was about to get rid of him. He had a rucksack on his back, which seemed to us the ideal place in which to put the spare keys. So Caravan Bear was with us from the start with the highly responsible job of keeping the keys safe!

When did you get Christopher Rabbit?

Christopher Rabbit came along later. On Chris’s 60th birthday, a box arrived from his sister. In it was Christopher Rabbit. The accompanying letter read: ‘To stop you growing up’. It worked!

If you had to take a trip with one of the characters from The Journey Begins, who would it be? Why?

I’m very fond of all the characters in the book – I couldn’t create them if I wasn’t – but for a travelling companion, I think it would have to be Christopher Rabbit. Why? Because he is kind and thoughtful of others. Throughout the book, he remains something of an outsider, grateful for the close friendship of Caravan Bear, Whitby the dog, and Hector the horse. But he never feels he completely belongs, so I just want to love, cuddle, and protect him. It would be hard to separate Caravan Bear, Whitby, and Hector and take just one of them away without the others – but all of them would be good travelling companions.

Have you ever been on a caravan trip?

Chris and I have been caravanning for some years now. Not in a gypsy-style caravan of the book, although I imagine that would be great fun, but in a modern caravan. We both love the freedom of going ‘here, there, wherever the fancy takes us’! There is something special about taking your home away with you so that one day you can wake to see the sea out of the caravan window, and the next day see hills and mountains of an entirely different place out of the same window.

Christopher Rabbit returns home to a surprise party.
What is your best birthday party memory from your childhood?

One year, as a birthday treat, I was taken to Lyons Corner House in Oxford Street in London for a meal. It seemed a very grown-up thing to do. Very unadventurously, I chose to eat baked beans and chips for the main course. But for dessert, I remember going through agonies over whether to have strawberries and cream or an exotic-sounding Knickerbocker Glory – a glorious-looking mixture of fruit, cream, ice-cream and jelly served in very tall glasses. I settled for the known strawberries and cream, and it wasn’t until many, many years later that I had a Knickerbocker Glory. I’m afraid it was very disappointing!

What does your writing space look like?

When at home, I write at my desk. When I’m away, I write on a laptop in the caravan. I’ve even written on a tablet in the car – but obviously not when I’ve been driving!

What are the best bits about being a writer?

Writing can be a very lonely job involving a lot of thinking time, but I write to share what I’ve written with you all. It’s very rewarding to get feedback from children who have read my books or seen a television series I’ve written. Your comments are illuminating, rewarding, and often unintentionally very funny. One time, a small boy turned to his teacher to say that I couldn’t be a writer as all writers are dead!

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?

When I was honoured by Lion Books a number of years ago as their best-selling author!

Can we expect any more adventures from Caravan Bear and friends?

Absolutely! A second book of The Animals’ Caravan adventures is to be published later this year, Stories Jesus Told. This time Christopher Rabbit will be sharing some of the stories from the New Testament of the Bible, and the friends have more adventures in the caravan.

Enjoy reading The Journey Begins! Buy your copy here.

Want to find out more about Avril Rowlands? Check out her wonderful website here.