Alan Barker's take on a classic Christmas story
Alan Barker chats with us about his inspiration for writing his new book The Shepherd Who Couldn't Sing.
1. What inspired you to write The Shepherd Who Couldn’t Sing?
Inspiration came from the traditional Christmas story, my enjoyment of carols, and the sight of starlit skies late on Christmas Eve. At this time of year I love the sights of frosty Lincolnshire fields, and patient livestock in the warmth of ancient stables. Moments that make me want to sing!
2. Why was it important to you to write a Christmas story?
I’ve told this tale in schools and churches for many years and wanted to share it with a wider audience. It echoes the legend of Caedmon, the first English poet who received the gift of song and reflects my belief that the best gifts aren’t to be found beneath a Christmas tree. They’re discovered within ourselves!
3. What were your favourite children’s books when you were little?
One of my favourite books was a collection of tales by Alison Uttley called Magic in my Pocket – full of mystery, colour, and country ways. Her childhood description of a winter’s day spent sledging is particularly evocative. I still return to it in snowy weather!
4. What was it like working with your illustrator, Thea Baker?
You may be surprised to learn that I’ve never met Thea, but I’d love the opportunity to do so. She’s a really talented artist based in Melbourne, Australia whose illustrations are full of detailed colour and texture. When people first see our book they exclaim: ‘What wonderful pictures!’
5. What’s next for you as an author?
Who knows? I shall certainly continue to contribute to the SPCK assemblies website and have some more stories to tell. Like Jake the boy shepherd, I might just be surprised!