Author’s gift helps poorly children lose themselves in a literary world

Author Loris Owen with staff from Padua Ward. They are outside the hospital with a tree behind them. The three staff members are wearing scrubs. All are holding a copy of the book and wearing a mask
Author Loris Owen with staff from Padua Ward

Published on 17 November 2020

A debut author has donated books to a hospital children’s ward – and is encouraging others to do the same.

Loris Owen gifted copies of her first book, The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith, to Padua ward at the William Harvey Hospital after her planned book launch could not go ahead because of coronavirus restrictions.

The author, who lives in Folkestone, spent the launch budget on donating copies of her book for the Ashford hospital, as well as for hospitals in four other locations she has links to.

She said: “I really wanted to take the money I would have spent on the launch and use it for something positive.

“The idea came after a conversation with a friend of mine who is a nurse, who explained some of the restrictions the wards are working under and how that affects children in hospital, because they can’t use shared toys at the moment.

“I thought that reading would give them the chance to daydream a little, and mentally escape the ward for a while.”

The book is a science fantasy novel following 12-year-old Kip as he starts at Quicksmith’s College of Strange Energy after receiving a cryptic invitation. He and his friends must solve a 400-year-old treasure hunt and uncover the mysteries within the college walls.

Published by Firefly Press, it was named one of the Observer children’s books of the month this autumn and has received a host of rave reviews.

Loris said: “I have been blown away by the response to the book, and the support from other authors.

“There are lots of us in the same position of not being able to launch our books the way we normally would, and of course lots of hospitals caring for children who can’t play in the same way they usually would.

“I’m hoping that other authors might see this story and donate their books to a local hospital. Even one book can make a difference to a poorly child and can whisk them away on an adventure to another world.”

Dee Neligan, fundraising and development officer for East Kent Hospitals Charity, said the donation had been warmly welcomed by children and staff at the William Harvey Hospital.

She said: “It is a fantastic thing to do and has brought a smile to all the children who received a copy of the book.

“Not only does it show someone is thinking about them, but it gives them the opportunity to lose themselves in a book for a while.

“Reading can help them relax, and for many it also reminds them of home and sharing a story with their family at bedtime.”

For more information on Loris’s work see www.lorisowen.com, or follow her on Twitter @writingloris

You can find out more about Quicksmith’s College of Strange Energy at www.quicksmiths.com

For more information on how to support East Kent Hospitals Charity over the festive season, visit https://www.ekhcharity.org.uk/news-and-events/festive2020/