Dan Walker is a children's author and the creator of Sky Thieves, Desert Thieves and The Light Hunters fantasy adventure stories. His books have been nominated for the Brilliant Book Award, the Reading Rampage Award, the RED Book Award, the Salford Children's Book Award and the Derbyshire Schools Book Award, and have been translated into multiple languages around the world.
Dan lives just outside of Nottingham, where he spent his childhood being dragged up and down the hills of the Peak District, frantically hammering away at computer games and raiding his cousin's bookshelf for anything with a colourful cover.
Is there a particular book, author, film or game that had an impact on you in your childhood?
A computer game called Final Fantasy VII had an enormous impact on me as a kid. I received some money for my 13th birthday, and had a choice between Tomb Raider II, (as a local to the city in which the Tomb Raider games were made, this one was tough to turn down!) and a Japanese RPG called Final Fantasy VII. Based on the recommendation of a friend, I went with FFVII, and it has remained one of my favourite stories in any medium ever since.
What did you enjoy most at school?
I loved pretty much everything. Some of the tasks in lessons could get a bit boring, but there was so much to learn that I didn’t mind. I had a particular fondness for English, especially when we were learning about stories. I also loved Art, especially after I realised at the start of secondary school I could draw pretty well. Most of all, I enjoyed hanging around with my mates at break and lunch, playing football and chatting.
What is your earliest memory?
I remember going sledding when I was young with the rest of my family. I was wearing a bright red, (what I can only describe as…) winter onesie, stuffed with padding. I recall the snow being as high as my waist, although I was only a couple of years old so that doesn’t really mean much. But at the time I felt like an explorer wading through a blizzard. I also distinctly remember sledding down the hill with my Dad, narrowly avoiding crashing into a tree. Fun times.
Is there a particular holiday destination you've visited that you'd love to return to?
Melbourne, Australia. I went with a friend when I was twenty. At first, we stayed in a posh hotel in the centre of the city, then moved out to an apartment in a place called Port Melbourne, which was two minutes from the coast. Melbourne was cool, looking like New York with its grid streets and skyscrapers and yellow taxis. We explored the city, using the amazing tram system to get to all of the districts, visiting the museums, the beaches, toured the Great Ocean Road, froze in biting-cold wind waiting to see the sun set behind the 12 Apostles and generally explored anything else that seemed interesting. I remember eating a lot of slices of pizza, as well as spending a lot of time in Internet cafes writing to home, as these were the early days of the ‘net. I’d love to return to Melbourne now that I’m a bit older and see how things have changed.
What would you say is your greatest talent?
I’d like to say coming up with stories, but I don’t really think of that as a talent, more the culmination of thirty years of devouring stories in books, movies, games, comics and having them all swirl around my head. I was also proud that I could eat three plates of Sunday dinner as a kid.
Of all the places you have lived, where have you felt most at home and why?
I have lived in a few places across the UK – Brixham, Exeter, Cambridge. But the place I’ve felt most at home is where I live now – the East Midlands. This is because the East Midlands is near the Peak District, with all its lovely hills, valleys, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, forests, towns, villages, country-homes. Dom and I go there at least a couple of times a month, either hiking or poking our noses into the various towns and villages.