All About Tanya Landman
Award winning author Tanya Landman was performing with a children’s theatre company and had no intention of becoming a writer until the idea for Waking Merlin popped into her head. “It came from nowhere. It was completely out of the blue.” As the story took shape, she caught the writing bug, becoming a full time author in 2005. Tanya says, “I’m now completely addicted. My head is constantly churning with strands of plots and images of characters. I’m like a magpie, collecting bright, shiny gems of ideas wherever I go.”
Born and brought up in Kent, Tanya now lives and works in North Devon, whose rugged coastline was the inspiration for her Flotsam & Jetsam series. Tanya’s first books were “adventure stories with a sprinkling of magic and a dollop of humor.” But then she branched out, writing two historical novels for young adults.
Apache – set in 19th century America – tells the story of girl warrior. It was shortlisted for several UK awards including the Teenage Book Trust and the Carnegie (where it was voted the Shadowing Groups favourite). The US edition won a Borders Original Voices prize and a Spur award from the Western Writers of America.
The Goldsmith’s Daughter – set in the Aztec empire during the Spanish invasion – was nominated for the Carnegie and the Guardian Children’s Fiction prize.
After that, Tanya turned to crime, writing Mondays are Murder (winner of a Red House Book Award) – the first in a series of ten “Agatha-Christie-for-kids” featuring child sleuth Poppy Fields and her friend Graham.
Tanya’s School Visits
Tanya’s background in theatre is useful when doing school visits: her sessions are lively – and sometimes side-splittingly funny – as well as informative. Tanya can cope with large (assembly-sized) audiences as well as single class groups and can talk to under 5’s as easily as 6th formers.
Primary School Visits
Tanya is very happy to tailor her visit to suit any school’s particular needs, but a typical day would involve 3 hour long sessions plus a shorter (20 – 30 minute) ‘storytime’ with youngest children.
For Nursery/Reception, Storytime:
With her extremely cute ‘Fingermouse’ puppet, Tanya tells stories, sings (badly!) and reads The Little Egg, Mary’s Penny and extracts from the Flotsam and Jetsam books.
For Y1/Y2 , Flotsam & Jetsam
The characters in the three Flotsam & Jetsam books were based on Storybox Theatre’s production The Fisherman and his Wife. Tanya brings two carved figures from the show and tells the Fisherman’s story before chatting with her audience about the seaside, what can be found on the beach and how to use it to create a book.
For Y3/4, Muck, Monsters & Magic
How do you tame a pig? What do armadillos smell like? Can tapirs roll over? How do you make a horse’s lips go floppy? All these questions – and more – will be answered when Tanya explains how she became a writer and what she was doing before she picked up her pen.
She also talks about 100% Pig (the tale of a fugitive boar, on the run from a sausage factory); Waking Merlin and Merlin’s Apprentice (featuring the legendary wizard in two world-saving adventures); The World’s Bellybutton and The Kraken Snores (in which William Popidopolis meets gods and monsters in modern day Greece).
For Y5/6, Murder and Mayhem
This is Muck, Monsters & Magic with an additional element: Murder! An abridged talk is followed by an interactive workshop. With a flipchart and eye-poppingly gruesome suggestions from the children, Tanya devises a light-hearted murder mystery unique to each school.
Secondary School Visits
A typical day might involve:
An hour long talk to a whole year group or the whole school using Apache and The Goldsmith’s Daughter (depending on size of group/size of venue/size of sound system). Although some of the subject matter is very serious, Tanya begins on a lighter note. She brings photos and tells stories about her pet pig, about working at a zoo and performing with Storybox Theatre, engaging and entertaining her audience before hitting them with hard facts. She talks about the whole business of being a writer – where ideas come from, how she sets about writing a full length novel, how she structures her day and so on.
Following this, she can work with smaller, class sized groups, running creative writing workshops of 1-2 hours duration depending on the timetable. Themes can be adapted or invented to suit individual schools and Tanya is always open to teachers’ ideas. Examples of sessions are:
Murderously Good Plots:
This workshop offers students a chance to commit murder during school time! It’s great fun, but it’s also an excellent way of getting pupils to plan carefully and structure their ideas – things they often resist. Beginning with a plot ‘map’, students devise a story, writing the beginning, middle and end of their own Agatha Christie style murder mystery.
An Epic Journey:
Using the real life example of a golden Persian goblet (3000 years old) that was recently discovered in an attic in Somerset, students trace the journey of the goblet through time. Each individual student gets to choose their favourite period in history and write their own ‘chapter’. These are then put together so a group produces it’s own epic novel. During the session pupils work on developing a plot, inventing a character, creating an authentic voice and adding period detail.
Carnegie Medal Winner 2015
What kind of a girl steals the clothes from a dead man’s back and runs off to join the army? A desperate one. That’s who. At the end of the American Civil War, Charley – a young African-American slave from the deep south – is ostensibly freed. But then her adopted mother is raped and lynched at the hands of a mob and Charley is left alone. In a terrifyingly lawless land, where the colour of a person’s skin can bring violent death, Charley disguises herself as a man and joins the army. Soon she’s being sent to the prairies to fight a whole new war against the “savage Indians”. Trapped in a world of injustice and inequality, it’s only when Charley is posted to Apache territory that she begins to learn what it is to be truly free.
Siki is an orphan of the Black Mountain Apache. Her mother was killed by Mexicans three years ago and her father lost in an ambush the winter before that. When Siki witnesses the brutal murder of her little brother Tazhi, she vows to become an Apache warrior and avenge her brother’s death.
Mary’s Penny – beautifully illustrated by Richard Holland it’s based on a traditional tale that everyone should read!
The Little Egg – intended for children just starting to read, but a fun one to read aloud to toddlers.
The Flotsam & Jetsam books. Nice for children from 7 to read to themselves, but also lovely to read aloud to younger ones from 4 upwards. These titles work well across the whole primary age range (up to and including Year 6) – it seems every one relates to the magic of the sea.
Then there are the adventure stories for 7 to 11’s – Walking Merlin, Merlin’s Apprentice, The World’s Bellybutton, The Krakn Snores and 100% Pig.
The 10 Poppy Fields books – starting with Mondays Are Murder – are for 9+ but also make light, entertaining reads for older children.
Useless, Two Words and Geronimo are short, punchy books for readers from 12+.
Apache and The Goldsmith’s Daughter are for both teenagers and adults.
Recommendations & Reviews
“The whole day was such a success, and the enthusiasm and inspiration you generated were amazing. Staff and students have sought me out to say how much they enjoyed it and to pass on their thanks to you. One of our new teachers said it was the best day she has ever spent in a school!” M.Wiggins, Ryde Academy.
“I just wanted to say how hugely my 9 yr old daughter enjoyed your talk last week. For a 20 minute journey after school i re- lived all the drama, envy, homour and of course, PIG! Maeve was sparkly eyed, pacy and full of smiles as she recounted her experience. She obviously loved it. Thank you.” Darragh Turley
“Your pitch and pace and wonderfully entertaining humour fitted each of the age ranges that you targeted. Your vibrant and humorous storytelling was completely absorbing and very much appreciated. We can’t wait for your return in the future, our anticipation sharpened by getting to know you this time. Thank you just seems inadequate, we so enjoyed meeting you and listening to all your anecdotes.” Helen Young, Lewannick CP School Cornwall
“I think this novel is a masterpiece. It stands head and shoulders above most current writing for children… Inevitably it is a sombre and tragic story, but it is also a continuously exciting one: a tale of action, violence, bloodshed, revenge and heroism that moves with terrific pace and energy. …… To write a compelling adventure story which is also a moving portrait of a doomed civilization and its values, and of man’s inhumanity to man, is no mean achievement. Overall and in detail the story is often tragic but never depressing, not least because of its marvelous heroine’s brave and dignified voice. The book is quite extraordinary. It deserves to become a modern children’s classic.” Books for Keeps
“A magnificent account of life in a doomed tribe on the Mexican border towards the end of the 19th century: a disturbing but exhilarating experience.” The Independent.
“A passionate and stunningly violent tale of wild justice.”The Times
“For any author taking on the fall of the Aztec Empire, the danger is not being up to the event’s inherent drama and tragedy. But Landman vanquishes such doubts with this pulse-pounding yet sensitive saga of a girl’s struggle for true freedom….Though harrowing in spots, this has enough restraint to capture female, male and adult readers alike.” Booklist Online: Book Reviews from the American Library Association
“Short, quick, easy reads, action-packed and dosed with a pleasing amount of gruesomeness.” The Independent
“Move over Nancy Drew, Poppy Fields is on the case in a story that is properly exciting and full of red herrings. suspense and more dead bodies than your average Agatha Christie.” tbk mag
“Light-hearted, fast-moving fun…. skilfully combines Arthurian mythology with a refreshingly straightforward comic fantasy.” The Scotsman
“Genuinely gripping writing, which does not flinch from dark matters, makes this a must for young knights and young ladies alike.” Venue
“A beautifully structured and rather wistfully written story of what happens when the Flotsam and Jetsam of the title, assuming human characteristics, are washed ashore and ingeniously set up home on a secluded little beach. The descriptions of a shoreline existence and its abandoned bits and pieces all carry the authentic tang of the sea.” The Irish Times
“We are writing to thank you for your sparkling contribution to the festival last week and to say that your impact on the young people and the adults was really quite marked – not only did you charm and engage them, you inspired them…. Thank you for being involved, and for your inspiring contribution. Your impact on young writers and readers cannot be underestimated.” Ray Speakman, West Midlands Gifted and Talented Partnership
“Creative writing has never been more interesting. The students created some truly unique work that all of them will remember, cherish and enjoy for a long time.” Holly Sum, West Somerset Community College.
“Tanya Landman gave an inspirational view into her brilliant world of writing. Thanks for a great day, Tanya! It was brilliant!” Jack, Jade and Angharad Y9
“Can I say how much we really enjoyed your visit last week? Students have given such positive feedback, including my A Level students this afternoon who were telling an absent student what she had missed.” Robert Walton, Worle Community School
“Thanks very much for all you did on Thursday. The children who attended the workshop were very enthusiastic and plan to continue working together as a writers group.” Pam Symons, South Molton Community College
“Thanks for coming the workshop was GREAT!” George, Y8
“Thank you so much for the fabulous afternoon! The Y6 teacher was stunned by how amazingly well her class listened! My kids just adored it – they said their faces ached from all the laughing and that they are going to treasure the autograph.” Sarah Burnett-Gardener, Riverside Primary
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about Tanya Landman, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please email Trevor Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him on +44 (0) 1535 656015