Skip to Content

Tanya Landman bears all at FLY

After a long anticipated wait, we welcomed Landman to the lecture theatre, to give a talk that the sixth formers and I will surely remember. Well known for Apache, The Goldsmith’s Daughter and Buffalo Soldier, she revealed that initially she never intended to be writer!

Landman told us her general background and how she had a love for drama and art back in school which has had an influence on many of her stories. Studying a degree in English, she went on to pursue her first job in a small Bookshop as an assistant, and was in charge of the children’s section and fell in love with children’s literature.

She then went on to tell us how she worked in an art centre and most importantly, was a Press and PR Manager at Bristol Zoo. Sounds posh right? That’s what we all thought and she had the same idea! Until she later explained how her office was like Harry Potter’s bedroom as portrayed in the Philosopher’s Stone!

As we sat, waiting to be told the rest of the story, she described to us what seemed to be a “dead animal” was on the floor of her room. She asked her co-worker and as she performed and acted out what she saw and what happened, the sixth-formers shouted “No!” and gasped, as we realised it was not in fact a dead animal but was a teddy bear suit that she had to wear.

It got more dramatic from here as I felt we relived the time a young angelic girl at the Zoo took her for a picnic, only to initially be force fed by the young child. As the costumes head got fuller and fuller of food and Landman’s facial expressions got more dramatic, the crowd laughed louder and louder.

She met her husband at the zoo during her time there, where they went on to run their own theatre company. This was a big influence for her writing, as we learnt. Being a mother, looking after her young children meant she had more time to daydream, something she used to do a lot at school, as she sat and watched them play for hours. This led her to write as she wrote down ideas and from her theatrical background; she was available to develop her stories.

Many of her stories are inspired by events or times in history, meaning that she does a lot of research. When writing Apache, she was so compelled by the character and says she bases her books on characters she likes; otherwise there wouldn’t be any fun in writing a novel about a character she doesn’t enjoy.

Currently, Landman is experimenting with pictures books and realised that as her children have grown up, so have her books as they tend to be targeted more at an older audience rather than a younger audience. Landman is very inspirational for anyone who wants to write, and anyone who might be stuck in a costume at a zoo!

Sasha Smee