Christina Gabbitas

Christina Gabbitas

Meet Christina Gabbitas, award-winning author, poet, Children’s Literature Festivals charity founder and trustee, and inspirational writer.

Pencil, pen or keyboard, what do you prefer to write with?

“I write with a pen. I always have a pad in my bag and in the car, ready to jot down ideas wherever I go. Although my writing isn’t very neat so I type it up when I get home.”

Where do you write and when?

“I don’t like routine so I’m not a writer that has any strict rituals or sticks to specific writing times. Creativity can’t be forced, otherwise it becomes a chore if you’re made to do something at the same time every day. I’m more random. I write in cafes. I like to people-watch and I need to write outside of my home and switch off from what’s around me.”

Describe your ideal place to write?

“I wrote ‘Felicity Fly Meets the Dragon Fruit and Friends’ in Vietnam – that was a wonderful place to write…sunshine, endless cups of tea and a balcony overlooking the sea.

I just wish I had more time to write.”

What attracted you to Fonetti?

“I love how it helps give children of all abilities and from all backgrounds access to stories. Fonetti would really have helped me as a child and I wish it had existed then. I was shy and it would’ve given me confidence. Reading aloud, in your own space and with expression is so important – it engages children and boosts confidence.”

“I make reading fun by reading aloud – just like Fonetti does. How you read a story brings it to life. That’s why I love Fonetti. Reading with expression is so important – it helps to switch children onto reading. All teachers need to let themselves go and jump inside reading a story. Children learn without realising when a story has captured their imagination.”

What’s your favourite book for children?

“‘I loved listening to stories as a child – audio books on cassette. My favourite was a collection of Spike Milligan’s poetry called ‘Silly Verse for Kids’. ‘On the Ning Nang Nong’ is simply genius and so much fun to read aloud, I use it on some of my school visits.”

Who are your top 3 fictional characters of all time?

“I wouldn’t say I have favourite characters as such.”

“As a child I loved the stories more than individual characters and I loved anything visual. Bagpuss was by far my favourite character.”

How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

“I never dreamt that I’d be a writer. I wrote stories for my own children and put them away in a box for seven years before getting them out to re-read them. I never knew what I wanted to be but that’s what life’s all about – learning what you want to be.”

“Don’t worry if you don’t know yet. Don’t worry if you don’t go to University, its’s not suited to everyone – just try different things and learn through experience. You’ll soon find your niche and what you enjoy.”

What inspires you to write?

“I’m inspired by the world around me – by people, history, museums. There needs to be a word that combines fact and fiction – my stories are both. They combine history with adventure and make learning fun.”

“As a child I was scared of EVERYTHING…the dark, spiders, life. Writing became like therapy for me and I can’t stop.”

What do you most enjoy about working in schools?

“I love the feedback you get from children. They’re my audience, they’re the ones I write for. If I can inspire one child, I’m happy I’ve made a difference, but being in school is something else.”

“You can see how your words make a difference through the smiles and enthusiasm in their faces. I visit schools because I want to encourage children to read and write – and to have a go at storytelling themselves.”

“I had very low self-esteem as a child and I want to help children build their confidence through a love of books and stories.”

And lastly, what advice would you give to an aspiring young author?

“If you’ve got an idea just write it down. Ignore those that tell you not to try – just have a go. If you believe in your idea, be proud of it. If you never try, you’ll never know, so ignore negative people and never give up.”

Find Christina’s books on Fonetti.

Fonetti titles include: Save Us, Triangular Trev and the Shape Idols, Mohna Lott, Felicity Fly series.