Leeds author gives us Ridiculous Witches at Headingley LitFest 2014
One of Leeds’ fastest rising children’s authors made sure her home city was not forgotten about last weekend as a ‘Ridiculous Witch’ was spotted in Headingley.
‘The odd-legged car crashing witch of Leeds’ is the latest book to be released by Yorkshire author, Sarah Shafi, in her ‘Ridiculous Witches’ series, and was read for the first time at Headingley LitFest 2014.
The Leeds-based story follows on from the likes of ‘The Royal trumping witch of Windsor’ and ‘The Ludicrous pie-eating witch of Wigan’, with Leeds’ nonsensical character living up to her predecessor’s reputations.
This latest tale follows Headingley’s very own witch, who, much like the author, grew up on Spring Road in Leeds and has a passion for cars. But, like all the other ‘Ridiculous witches’ before her, there is a big problem she must overcome.
“She is a good witch but she has had a wicked witch as a mother who has turned her into a toad so she has a problem,” Sarah explained.
“She has every single car on the planet, Ferraris, Bentleys, Porsches, the lot, but they’re all being smashed up across Leeds. But, there is a very special reason for this, and you will find out why it is when you read the book.”
The Ridiculous Witches books have quickly become a favourite amongst youngsters aged between six and ten-years-old, with famed artist, Tony Husband (Private Eye), providing illustrations for every book.
Having only begun writing children books within the last three to four years, Sarah Shafi has quickly found her forte and she says this is down to one person in particular.
“My daughter, Persia, is my absolute rock of inspiration,” she said. “She is ten-years-old now and whilst she has grown up she, and her friends, have loved listening to my crazy, made-up stories.
“It wasn’t until recently that I actually put pen to paper and started writing the books and they can take anything from a couple of weeks to months to complete.
“I’ve always had an overactive, weird imagination ever since I was a kid, so the Ridiculous Witches stories are something I just love doing.”
Being from Leeds is something Sarah says she has always been proud of and therefore it was only a matter of time until her stories came to the city.
She added: “This tale is particularly close to my heart because she shares my story of coming from Headingley.
“The dialect in the book is ‘very Yorkshire’ as well so it really feels like a book that the local community could relate to.”
Ridiculous Witches from cities across England, including Windsor, York, Manchester, Wigan and most recently Leeds, must sort out their problems before they can be considered ‘proper witches’.
With moral twists and wacky storylines, the tales have proved to be a big hit already, whilst the ‘Odd legged car crashing witch of Leeds’ was warmly received by tens of children and their parents at Headingley library last weekend.
In a free, open reading, Sarah read her book to the youngsters before a question and answer session took place as part of Headingley LitFest 2014.
The annual festival spans across Headingley and still has a number of events taking place over the next week.
Headingley LitFest volunteer and secretary, Richard Wilcocks, explained how important it was to ensure there was something for everybody throughout the three weeks of events.
He added: “We are run by a team of volunteers and it is intended to be a community literature festival which lets everybody get involved.
“We have had top flight authors, performers and actors come to the festival and Headingley has always been full of talent - Tolkien lived here from 1920’s onwards, and Arthur Ransome, best known for the children’s classic Swallows and Amazons was born here.
“We have reached out to every part of the community and have had fair amount of success so far with all sectors from youth, to teen and older generations.”