“Everything is possible when you write for children” | Ævar Þór Benediktsson, Aarhus 39

“Everything is possible when you write for children” | Ævar Þór Benediktsson, Aarhus 39

 Ævar Þór Benediktsson is an acclaimed Icelandic writer, part of our Aarhus 39 selection of the best emerging writers from across Europe. Ævar will be appearing at the inaugural International Children’s Literature Hay Festival Aarhus 2017 later this month. Here he talks about his new story for Quest, our new anthology of 17 stories for children, inspired by journeys. 

Tell us about your new story in Quest?
My story is about jumping out of your comfort zone and discovering new sides of old friends. I wanted to re-visit my favorite books from my childhood. I also wanted to write an adventure-story about a librarian.

When did you decide to become an author?
According to stacks of notebooks in my parent’s attic, it started when I was around 10 years old. But I remember that there were certain rules that I decided on: for every book I was going to write (because I, of course, was going to write more than one) I had to start at the beginning of a brand new notebook. Starting in the middle of a used book would be crazy!
But wouldn’t you know it: After writing maybe one or two pages of the story I had in my head, I got a new idea (a better idea!) and had – of course – to get a new notebook. So there are quite a few almost-unused notebooks in a box somewhere.
I still do this by the way.

When did you publish your first book?
When I was 26 years old and finishing theater-school. It was a short story collection, filled with some very strange stories I had written very early in the morning before my acting classes started, and the only book of mine that isn’t aimed specifically at children or YA. None of the big publishers wanted it, so I found a publisher that specialised in author’s first books. It was a huge learning experience and taught me a lot.

What is special about writing for children?
Everything is possible.

What does it mean to you to be a part of the anthology and the Hay Festival?
It is a great honor, something I never expected but can’t seem to stop smiling about.

Do you have a favorite spot where you write?
Everything I write, I write in coffee-shops. I like the chaos of it, being able to put my headphones on and stay in the eye of the storm. Also, they have some fantastic Wi-Fi there to watch cats on YouTube when the concentration starts lacking. When I start a new book, I try to find a new coffee shop to write in. Every place has it’s feeling and rhythm to it and it translates into the story. Also, the feeling of a new place always gives me ideas.