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Interview: Linda Middleton


A photograph of Little Thoughts Press Issue Four: Autumnatopoeia with a sneak peek of the poem "The Pipe Dragon" by Linda Middleton. A white page with black text.

 

Linda Middleton writes poetry for children and is passionate about inspiring them to write their own in her workshops. She is delighted that some of her poems have found beautiful homes, including in The Caterpillar and The Dirigible Balloon. Linda enjoys supporting children and teaching RE in a primary school in a leafy corner of England. In her spare time when she is not writing, she can be found wood wandering, wildlife watching, beach strolling and ice cream tasting.


You can connect with Linda through her Twitter account @LindaMid7

 

Little Thoughts Press: Your poem, "The Pipe Dragon" is a unique and fun approach to the Autumnatopoeia theme, taking something rather mundane, a radiator heating up, and making it fantastical. Conversely, "Autumn Songs" is very observational, noting the many sounds of autumn, down to the quiet plops of falling acorns. Do you tend to gravitate more toward the imaginary and fantastical when writing for children, or toward more natural, observational depictions of the world, and why?


Linda Middleton: This is a tricky question because I find enormous delight in both. Allowing my imagination to lead takes me to a world of all sorts of magic and mystery and it can be such an absorbing diversion from the real world. Asking yourself ‘What if?’ is like whizzing down a rainbow slide and not knowing where you will end up.


On the other hand, my heart has been nurtured by the natural world ever since I played beneath the sprawling oak at the bottom of my childhood garden. Immersing myself in the wonders of nature and then drawing upon observations and experiences for my poetry comes naturally. Creating Autumn Songs was like popping together a musical jigsaw of sounds and I am delighted that it has been loved by the children it has been shared with.



Little Thoughts Press: Issue 4: Autumnatopoeia celebrates the sounds of the fall season. What is your favorite onomatopoeia? And what is your favorite thing about autumn?


Linda Middleton: I simply LOVE, LOVE, LOVE onomatopoeia and was so thrilled to have two poems selected for the Little Thoughts Press Autumnatopoeia issue. My favourite onomatopoeia is the swishing rustle of welly-booting through carpets of glorious autumn leaves.

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons to embrace. Blue-splashed skies above the trees celebrating fall with their swirling, twirling carnival parade of blazing colour and that profound, earthly whispering sense of change rolling in with the sun-pearled mist never fail to excite.



Little Thoughts Press: What initially drew you to writing kid-lit and what do you find most challenging and rewarding about writing for a young audience?


Linda Middleton: Growing up hand in hand with children’s literature and being a grown-up with a little bit of child still cartwheeling in my heart has drawn me to writing kid-lit. I love my role as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant and working with children has inspired me further. Seeing the smile on the face of a child who finds themselves in one of my poems or simply enjoys the picture it paints is the most rewarding part.



Little Thoughts Press: Which kid-lit authors and books were your favorites growing up?


Linda Middleton: I was a devoted reader as a youngster and remember a tower of adventure and mystery books beside my bed. I waltzed and whirled through fairy tales and fables and fell head over heels in love with Edith Brill’s The Golden Bird, gloriously enriched by Jan Pienkowski’s stunning silhouettes and swirls of colour. I found myself in the character of Babka with her love for the forest and her friends the birds. Roald Dahl is another favourite author and I especially enjoyed the heartwarming relationship between Danny and his father in Danny the Champion of the World. I immersed myself in the fantasy of the tiny people in Mary Norton’s The Borrowers and never tired of exploring Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. And as for Michael Bond’s friendly Paddington Bear, well he simply felt like part of the family.



Little Thoughts Press: And what about today? Any kid-lit writers you love and want to shout out?


Linda Middleton: I found it impossible to step out of the adventure unfolding in Hannah Gold’s moving tale in her dazzling debut novel, The Last Bear, and I am looking forward to the sequel, Finding Bear, released later this year.


Lost Magic, The Very Best of Brian Moses, is definitely a firm favourite of mine with its wonderful mix of humorous, haunting and thoughtful poems. Debra Bertulis’ beautiful debut poetry collection Where Do Wishes Go? instantly became a book for keeps for me and one that I would have cherished as a child. I’m also looking forward to the exciting debut collection from Sarah Ziman, as I have always enjoyed her clever zingy poems.



Little Thoughts Press: What advice would you give to young writers?


Linda Middleton: Keep your eyes open to spot the extraordinary in the ordinary − you’ll be surprised where this can take you! Capture magic from the whisper of a seashell to the rainbow shine of a bubble and stash it away like treasure in the boxes of your brain and the pages of your notebook. Whistle to your ideas and they will reappear like the rainbow array on an artist’s palette to help you paint your beautiful poems. Oh, and most importantly, have fun with your creative writing!



Little Thoughts Press: Is there anything else you wish I had asked? Any upcoming projects, publications, or other news you'd like to share?


Linda Middleton: My brightest poetry highlight of 2022 was having a poem chosen by the wonderful Jonathan Humble for The Dirigible Balloon anthology, Chasing Clouds, and to be part of the official book launch. The marshmallows on my hot chocolate were the complimentary words of Steve Whitaker, Literary Editor of The Yorkshire Times, in his book review:

The fulsome and animated richness of nature in ‘Spring’s Magic Wings’ by Linda Middleton, encourages close observation of the natural world, as it performs a service to ecology in a wider universe of ignorance and neglect. The simple wonder of Middleton’s achingly musical lyricism is entirely consonant with the spring-like freshness of juvenile experience:


‘Leaves are unfurling, silk threads are whirling −

Caterpillar trapeze!’.















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