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'Stories capture the imagination and touch the heart'

 

Vicki Gibson was Head of Philosophy and Religion and School Chaplain at The Abbey School in Reading before taking early retirement. She is now writing children’s books (aged 9-14), with her second novel due to be published later this year. Vicki attends Wokingham Baptist Church in Berkshire

  

Vicki GibsonWhat was the thinking behind your change of career?
I like the way you describe retirement as a change of career because this is what it has turned out to be. I loved teaching, in particular the contact with young people at a very formative phase in their lives. But after 34 years I wanted to do something different. Teaching religious education I loved telling stories to help children explore and understand spiritual truths, whatever their experience or background. I also love writing stories and it was quite natural for me to progress to allegorical writing.

 
How have your years of teaching fed into your books?
The books reflect conversations that I have had with students in my time as a teacher of Religious Studies and they deal with the ultimate questions of life in a fun and accessible way. The books can be read literally as a fast moving adventure story however they can also be read as an allegorical tale. The first book is called The Eagle and the second is nearing completion and will be called The Nest.


Why a story and not a text book?
Because stories capture the imagination and touch the heart as well as the mind. Text books are more professorial and factual in style and turn the ideas into a lesson. These adventure stories are more accessible. I want my readers to engage with the characters and enter their inner world. I want the books to be inclusive and thought provoking without suggesting study, tests and grades! 

 
How would you describe your writing?

I would say that I write with two voices -  Jacob aged 12 is the story’s young hero and reflects the voice of rationalism that is in my head sometimes and certainly has been expressed to me by many questioning students over the years.

Rebekkah aged 10 on the other hand, represents  the voice of developing faith which I like to believe is more representative of the many agnostic and theistic students whom I have had the privilege of journeying with as school chaplain and teacher. There is a bit of me in Rebekkah too. My writing is funny when appropriate but it is also spiritual and philosophical when the children have conversations with the Eagle. It seeks to engage the emotions when the children are confronted with the consequences of their actions and their thoughts and feelings are explored. I try to use short sentences and accessible images to explain challenging concepts and to raise questions.

Vicki Gibson The Eagle

 
What are your hopes for your books?
My hope is that young people from both Christian and non-Christian backgrounds will read my books and think about the questions they raise. It would be wonderful to hear of young people reading the book and then talking about some of the ultimate questions such as: Is it reasonable to look at design in the world and to conclude there is a designer? If God exists, what is he or she like? It would be fabulous if Christian young people enjoyed the book so much that they felt able to share it with their friends and to have the confidence to have conversations about some of the issues raised. It would also be my hope that parents might read the books with their children and chat about some of the questions together.

 
What’s been the feedback so far?
I have had some really encouraging feedback from a wide range of children, teachers and parents. One 12 year old boy enjoyed it so much he wanted to make a film out of it. Another felt he would like to fly on the Eagle's back and would love to visit the nest where the Eagle lives. I have  schools in Wokingham and Lincolnshire  that have used  it  to support the Religious Studies curriculum and creative writing classes. Most children have enjoyed reading it.     
 

Can you say a little more about the sequel, The Nest?  
This continues the adventures of Jacob and Rebekkah with the Eagle. There is a conflict between the forces of good and evil as represented by the followers of the Eagle and those of the Magpie. Some of the questions which were left unresolved in book one are revisited and explored alongside the issues of free will and suffering. The children meet and befriend some refugees so the examples are up to date and relevant. Beyond that, I am thinking about other aspects of theistic spirituality that can be looked at through allegorical writing in the same series.



Read more about Vicki on her website: https://vjgibsoncom.wordpress.com/about/

Order the book via her website or Amazon.

 

Baptist Times, 31/01/2017
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