SCRF 2023: Fantasy author taps into the crossover of illusionand science to create time-travelling tales for children

SCRF 2023: Fantasy author taps into the crossover of illusion
and science to create time-travelling tales for children

Ross Welford entertained a huge audience of captivated kids with magic tricks
and story-writing tips at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival 

Sharjah, May 11, 2023

The art of storytelling was presented with an illusionary twist – literally – at the 14th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2023), when a leading British children’s science fiction and fantasy author Ross Welford gave a talk on the subject, along with quite a few tricks up his sleeve.

Explaining that books and stories are where the real magic happens, to an audience of schoolchildren, Welford said: “I love magic and I love to write about it. I believe all of my books have got magic in them, not in the form of witches, wizards or goblins but in a different way,” the 60-year-old author of Time Travelling with a Hamster said. “I believe that when you open a book, your imagination can do things that are impossible in the real world,” he said.

When it comes to his stories though, he doesn’t want the traditional elements. “I look at the crossover of illusion and science. Science as a subject itself is magical”, he said. “For example, when I was your age, we listened to music on a record player, watched films in the cinema, made phone calls from a booth and used paper maps to find directions. And today, we can do all of that using one device – our smartphones. If someone had told me this 30 or 40 years ago, that we could do it all with this little thing that I carry around in my pocket, I would have thought it was magic. But it’s just very advanced science”.

Time travel is one of his favourite devices that Welford loves to use in his books. “In Time Travelling with a Hamster, I wrote about a boy aged 11 who goes through a tragic incident and uses a time machine to go back to 1984, where he is able to put right the thing that went wrong in his life. In real life, the only way you can time travel is by getting older!” he said.

Carrying over the element of illusion into real life at his talk, Welford even gave a demonstration, using his penchant for simple tricks, by inviting students from the audience for an interactive session, much to the delight of the youngsters. The jovial author performed the classic water in an upside-down glass experiment and the rope knot illusion trick, where he appeared to put a knot in the middle and made it fall off without cutting it, followed by “cutting” the rope into two and making it whole again.

The author wrapped up his session by engaging the children in a creative storytelling exercise, in which they came up with the characters and the narrative themselves.


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