About Vanessa Harbour
I am a writer who happens to be disabled and an academic who loves words. I believe in living life to the full regardless of what life throws at me. In particular, I like to weave my words into stories for children and young adults providing moments of hope in a difficult world. When I was growing up I wanted to be either a doctor or writer. Now I have a Creative Writing PHD so a doctor of writing really, means I have the best of both worlds. I am a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Winchester. Also, the Academic & Diversity Consultant/Editor at the Golden Egg Academy.
I am very lucky because I love writing and I get to write stories, but not just that I get to help others who want to write stories too. Working at the university and at the Golden Egg Academy means I get to hear some glorious narratives. I also get a chance to do research and write and about writing as well. I am living the dream!
Flight was a very important story to me. It was the first story I wrote after my PHD. It was joyous to write because I had total freedom. Also, I wanted to write a Second World War story as both my parents had been involved in the War so, in a way, it was a tribute to them and all their stories.
I loved writing stories and reading when I was young. I would escape into books. Often reading a book in a single reading. My family (I was the youngest of five) believed in the importance of books too. My elder sister, who is 14 or so years older than me, loves books and became a brilliant teacher and headteacher. When I was a very small she would give me lots of books and collections of poems to read ensuring she instilled in me the love of the word too.
I stopped writing stories and started writing for business when I had my own company. It wasn’t until there were issues with my health and I went to university that I started writing stories properly again. It was then that I found the joy of writing for children and I have never looked back.
Not only do I work as an editor for the Golden Egg Academy, but I was lucky enough to be mentored by Imogen Cooper while I was writing Flight. She helped me make the book it is now. She is a great friend and such an inspiration.
Working with Firefly Press and Penny Thomas and Janet Thomas has been a joy. They are fabulous publishers (and editors), so supportive and encouraging their authors. It is wonderful watching the company grow and being part of that.
As I said writing children’s books during these difficult times seems really important to me. We need to create stories that they can escape into and see that there is still hope in the world. Creating narratives where they can understand and experience empathy. It is all about seeing people just like them but also a chance to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.