What’s your story?Hannah Tallant • 5th February
As a creative agency – storytelling means a lot to us. As an ode to National Storytelling Week, we got in touch with Peter Haney, author of the wonderful Byron the penguin books and father to our very own Denise Webber, to ask him about the power of storytelling.
What do you think is the power of storytelling?
People need stories to explain, educate and enlighten. Fables and myths take us into strange worlds; morality tales can show us how best to cope with the trials and joys of living and great storytellers can simplify big ideas and put into words what we may be thinking. Steinbeck wrote: thoughts are slow and deep and golden in the morning… How good is that?
When did you first start writing stories?
When I was ten or eleven years old, I used to make a comic at home with my younger brother and sisters called “The Buddy Ranger Club” which was heavily influenced by Yogi Bear and his pals. Later, I kept notebooks of unpublished song lyrics and surreal flights of fancy and drew a cartoon strip to entertain my friends at work. My children’s rhymes and stories began when my daughter, Denise was small.
What do you think makes a great story?
A great story resonates with the reader, pulls you in, entertains and intrigues.
It has conflict and resolution and it provides the reader with something new.
What is the inspiration behind Byron the Penguin?
The penguin appeared in my daily cartoon when George and Stewie arrived in Antarctica on their world tour. A rhyming penguin? Why not? And Byron was the most famous poet I had heard of. A legend was born. Byron became a character in a hand-drawn book, became the star of his own sequence of poetic adventures, immortalised in The Complete Byron the Penguin and now scribbles sporadic rhymes on his own Facebook page.
Then we thought we’d ask our team what they think makes a powerful story, and what their favourite book is and why…
Stepping into a world away from the stark reality of the day; I hunker down with words and cocoon myself in the pages of a book – this is what reading a powerful story means to me.
“All the reading she had done had given her a view of life they had never seen” Matilda, Roald Dahl
Denise Webber, Senior Client Manager
A powerful story stays with you – the terror, wonder, anger, woe – a mere 26 letters can create all of these emotions. It’s kinda amazing.
My favourite book is My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. My copy is a hand me down from my mum which I read for the first time on a family holiday in Corfu – where the book is set. When I sit down to read it (again and again!) it feels like catching up with an old friend.
Lauren Heaven, Content creator and Writer
Someone once told me that story telling is the ‘currency of life’ – we share stories all the time; it’s how we’ve received information for centuries and it’s why I’m an avid story-listener. A powerful story is irresistible; it triggers my imagination; its compelling narrative gets my attention and effortlessly draws me in so that I’m fully absorbed and engaged in the journey.
My favourite book of all time is The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
A beautiful story about the power of good friendships that is filled with gloriously vivid characters that will touch even the hardest heart.
Justine Watmough, Business Development
A powerful story is one that stays with me long after I have finished reading it. It has drawn me in, so much so that I’m sad for it to end. It is something real, that I can relate to.
For me, it would be between Once in a House on Fire by Andrea Ashworth or Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood – you can’t make me choose!
Louise Seastron, Head of Operations (Education)
For me, a powerful story is one that evokes an emotional reaction in the reader, and so much more powerful is one that inspires and motivates action or a change in thinking or behaviour.
My favourite book is With Nails by Richard E Grant. I first read it in 1997 on a train to London. From the moment I opened the first page I didn’t put it down, or come up for air, until I’d finished it. I was in a GNER smoking carriage (way back when).
The way he tells the stories, through his eyes is incredible. I’ve read it time and again and it inspires me to explore new words, phrases and always look for the not so obvious/dark comedy in every day situations.
Fiona Broomfield, Senior Content Manager/Editor
As a boy I hated books, preferring Beano…until I was handed a book about African wild dogs. I liked learning about animals and this book helped me realise great stories aren’t just the classics, they simply make you feel good.
Solo: The Story of an African Wild Dog
Hugo van Lawick
Brent Craig, Business Development Director
Can I change your mind?
Like good storytelling, this hugely readable and masterly guide to the craft and art of persuasive writing is told in a human voice and with a generous spirit. Persuasive writing, says Camp, should promote “openness, trust, consideration and mutual goodwill”.
Damon Bowles, Head of Content
The best stories for me are those which show you the extraordinary in the ordinary of everyday life – whether that’s in fact or fiction, in a novel, on social media, the radio or in a magazine.
The story behind my favourite book, Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, is that it’s a limited edition print, which I bought it while travelling on the Orient Express a few years ago.
Katherine James, Senior Client Manager