Karla Brading: Writing gives me life – but losing my friend has made me want to teach

By Emily Price.

For Angela Stanton, who once placed Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone in my hands.

On a rainy day in the Welsh valleys, Karla Brading sits in a house brimming with novels. From when she was just a small child, she began folding piles of blank paper into the shape of a book and writing her imaginings with a crayon.  

Karla and Angela embrace at book launch

Now all grown up, Karla Brading, 32, is a published author and illustrator. Her work includes young adult novels, illustrated books for children and she has even been a ghost writer for some of Disney’s anthologies.

“When I was a baby my parents would place picture books around my pram so I was never far from a book.” said Karla, 

Karla at the Hay Book Festival

“I would look forward to bedtime when my father would read to my sisters and I. Trips to the library and books for Christmas were treats that I couldn’t live without.    

“I wanted to create my own worlds and allow my imaginings to pour onto the page. When I was six, I started writing short stories illustrated in crayon. By the time I was ten, I would read my 30 page makeshift novels to eager school friends. 

“I was inspired by the Goosebumps books. The idea that the author R L Stine had an army of horrific characters at his fingertips was powerful to me and I wanted to be a master of horror too. I still love fantasy and horror novels and I draw a lot of my ideas through listening to others as we definitely all go through so much in our lifetime.

“When I was a teenager at Afon Taf High School, I was very lucky to have such a fantastic English teacher. Angela Stanton supported me throughout school and I’ll always be grateful for that.”

Karla has a first-class honours degree in creative and professional writing from the University of South Wales which has helped her develop her writing skills. Her love of spooky writing has grown in the last few years and she often incudes Welsh history in her stories.  

Karla at The Skirrid Inn with daughter Willow

“In 2019 I released The Inn of Waking Shadows.” said Karla,  

“The book is based in Abergavenny in what is considered Wales’s most haunted pub. We are blessed with such rich history and beautiful scenery here in Wales and I’m grateful to call it my home. 

“The book is about the terrifying Judge Jeffreys and the hangings that took place at the infamous Skirrid Inn. Writing it was a dream for me. I got to stay at the inn whilst I researched the story and Yvette Fielding from the show, Most Haunted, read it and gave the quotation for the front cover. I was over the moon!

“Getting something published and on the shelves of bookstores is such an accomplishment for me. Being able to share my private world with readers is what makes it so worthwhile. Writing has always given me life.” 

In 2019, Karla visited Transylvania and drew inspiration from there for her picture book, Dracula’s Tooth. She has both written and illustrated the book and was looking forward to its launch on Halloween 2020. But Coronavirus has hindered these plans and she has pushed the book launch to Halloween 2021.   

“Visiting the bloodthirsty land of Transylvania was inspiring to me. It’s best known for its connection to vampires and as soon as I returned to Wales I began painting and writing. I was creating it for my four year old daughter who came on the trip with me, but when I shared the paintings on social media, people loved it and urged me to get it published.” said Karla. 

As coronavirus cast its veil over 2020, Karla toured schools in Merthyr Tydfil and taught children how to paint. Come Christmas, the town’s windows were bedecked in festive artwork and a map was handed out to children so they could follow a trail of creativity. 

With schools now closed because of Coronavirus restrictions, Karla has been dressing up and filming herself reading beloved book titles such as, The Cat in the Hat, for children feeling isolated to watch at home. Her book, The Inn of Waking Shadows, has recently been added to the English syllabus at her old school, Afon Taf, in Merthyr Tydfil.  

Karla dressed up ready to read stories for schools online

Karla’s English teacher, Angela Stanton, fiercely supported her throughout her journey from student to author. Angela would surprise Karla at launches and buy a copies of her books. They remained close up until last year when Angela sadly died of Coronavirus at the age of 49.

Karla said: “Writing and being an author gives me life. But after losing Angela its made me realise how fulfilling teaching can be.”

Karla starts a PGCE in primary teaching at Cardiff Metropolitan University in September and hopes that she can be as inspirational to children as Angela Stanton was for her.

Categories: Feature, Uncategorized

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