This week I caught up with Portishead children’s author and father of two Huw Powell, who’s visiting St. Peter’s Primary School for World Book Day on March 3rd to speak to Key Stage 2 pupils.

I’m sure loads of you with older ones know all about Spacejackers, but for parents of younger children like myself, I was really excited to find out more about this particular Portishead Parent.

Can you give us a brief introduction to the Spacejackers series and what age group were they written for?
Spacejackers is a book series for 8 to 12 year olds. It’s all about space pirates and it’s been described as Star Wars meets Pirates of the Caribbean. The story follows Jake Cutler, who’s abandoned on a remote planet when he’s 2 years old.  Jake is raised by technology-worshipping cyber-monks, but he has a passion for the stars and a thirst for adventure. His only clue to his past is a mysterious gold pendant that contains 3 crystals. When Jake is 13 years old, space pirates attack the monastery where he lives, forcing him to embark on an incredible voyage through space in search of his missing father and a mythical planet called Altus.  Jake discovers that space is a vast and dangerous place, and you should never trust a space pirate!

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You have a little one in Reception, just like me. How excited were you when he brought his reading books home, and are you always the first in the queue to help with reading?
It’s such an amazing feeling when your child starts to read, similar to when they learn to speak.  There’s a huge sense of accomplishment and freedom, as the world of words is opened up to them. At home, we finish most days with stories.  This is usually a combination of my four-year-old, Cadan, reading his school books, followed by me (or my wife Beata) reading a story to Cadan and his younger brother, Carter.  If that’s not enough, I’m often asked to make up stories in the dark.

With copies of Spacejackers ready for your children to read when they’re older. Do you wonder what they’ll think of them?
I’ve dedicated the first two books to my sons, so I really hope that they’ll enjoy them when they’re older. It’s hard to tell, because Cadan wants to be a fire-fighting power ranger and Carter likes horses.  I’ve tried to write the sort of book that I enjoyed reading as a child, so fingers crossed that my boys take after their father.

Where can we get copies of Spacejackers and how can we hassle you to sign our copy?
Spacejackers is available online (e.g. Amazon, Waterstone’s, Bloomsbury, etc) or via most bookshops.  Not all bookshops will have it on their shelves, however I’ve seen copies in Waterstone’s in Cribbs Causeway, Waterstone’s in Weston-Super-Mare, Foyles in Cabot Circus and Books on the Hill in Clevedon.  Alternatively, you could try the brilliant Portishead Library.  If you would like a signed copy, keep an eye out for events on my website or drop me an email [email protected].

I guess you’re a big fan of the BBC Radio 2 ‘500 Words’ competition, what advice would you give all the young writers who entered this in February, and why is it so important to keep their imagination alive?
I’m a huge fan of all initiatives that encourage children to read or write for pleasure, such as World Book Day, Summer Reading Challenge, Premier League Reading Stars and BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words.  My advice to young writers is to make sure you have an idea that you’re excited about and cannot wait to share with the world. Keep practicing and don’t give up, the quality of your writing will improve the more you write.  It’s also important to read lots, so you can learn from other authors.  Finally, it’s useful to get a second opinion, so ask a trusted friend of relative for feedback on your story. Best of luck if you have entered 500 Words (or other writing competitions).

Tell us what you love about being a Portishead Parent?
I grew up in North Somerset and didn’t really appreciate how special it was until I moved to London for 6 years.  I’ve been living in Portishead for over 5 years now and I love the sense of community.  It’s such a nice town, full of friendly folk who help each other out. There’s a collection of great features, such as the High Street, the Lake Grounds, the Marina, the Leisure Centre, the Library, the Youth Centre, the schools, the shops, the restaurants and the fresh air.  It’s the perfect town to raise a family!

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