Gary Carse was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, where he lived with his mother and sister, up until he was 5-years-old, when the family moved to Preston (for three years until deciding to back again).
Like a lot of kids in the 90s, Gary grew up playing with actual toys and was frequently making up his own games and stories on the bedroom floor. Dramatic fights between Batman and the Power Rangers took place and plot twists were not uncommon!
Gary attended seven schools in total, three primary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. After going to live with his dad, step mum and their children, Gary joined Prudhoe Community High School (his second high school) when he was 14-years old. It was there that he first discovered an interest in animation, which led him to study storytelling later on at Staffordshire University.
Learning the craft of writing children’s fiction.
During his time at Staffordshire University, Gary studied the craft of children’s writing and storytelling for kids, focusing specifically on writing for animation (he graduated with honours from an Animation BA course). Gary has studied many books on writing for children and learned the fundamental principles of storytelling and character arcs, which still navigate his writing process over a decade on.
He has also been lucky enough to watch master classes by Neil Gaimon (Coraline), R.M Steinhold (Goosebumps) and was even able to participate in a training course on storytelling and character development by Pixar Animation Studios (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monster’s Inc).
Gary has learned to design his children’s characters from the inside-out, putting their personality first, then letting that inform their visual attributes and costume choice.
He found that the most rewarding characters to write were those who had in-depth opinions and attitudes that came from a fictional backstory of experiences. Most importantly, Gary insists on giving his characters strengths, flaws and ambitions that children can learn from. Gary knows when a character is fully developed and ready to step into the story world because he cares about the character on an emotional level, which makes the writing (and reading) experience all the more enjoyable.
Gary believes in taking children’s storytelling seriously.
Gary has always believed that children’s books, videos and games should be taken seriously. After all, when he was watching Batman, Aladdin and Pokemon on TV, he took them extremely seriously. Seriously enough to believe that the characters on screen were (in some ways) real people. Seriously enough to imitate them and follow the examples they set as role models.
This taught him the importance of making sure that children’s stories, and the characters in them, are grounded in reality. They needed backstories, a foundation of relatable experiences that informed their opinions, reactions and decisions going forward.
Logical plotting is another cornerstone of Gary’s writing for children. His characters will always lead their stories and react in honest ways to what’s happening in their world.
Most importantly, themes and values are written into the fabric of Gary’s work. He gives his characters flaws, which get challenged by events in the story, sometimes they learn, sometimes they don’t, but the reader is always there to bear witness and learn for themselves.
Children emulate what they see on the screen and they often pretend to be the characters in their favourite stories. It’s important that those characters set realistic examples and behave logically when kids are looking up to them, as minor role models.