About James

James Winston Henry Carter (what are you sniggering at?) is a children's poet, non-fiction writer and musician.

At the age of 8, James played biscuit tin drums in his first and short-lived band The Electric Spiders. Sadly, the band broke up after only one morning because his best friend's mum wanted her drumsticks - well, knives and forks - back. Several years later, James played guitar in his first school band, Villain, but they were booed off at their first concert during their first song!

Mmmm...what else? James lives in Oxfordshire with his three ukuleles (all called Erik), two delightful daughters (not called Erik) and their two pets (the-cat-that-drinks-the-bathwater, that's Dylan, and the-cat-that-eats-slugs, that's Hollie) and not to forget his one wonderful wife (also not called Erik).

Every time he visits a school, children ask Where do you get your ideas from? – to which he replies that he gets his ideas from the magic wood at the back of his house.

Seriously though, James believes there is a magic wood – your imagination – which takes things from your life, things you’ve done, seen, daydreamed, remembered – and turns these into poems. Of the poems in his latest collection the World's Greatest Space Cadet - the poem 'What To Say If You Meet A Ghost' came about when James wondered if you could write a shape poem with a single word; 'Sid' was inspired by a neighbour's cat; 'School Library' was written as a thank you poem to the fabulous Falkland Primary School in Newbury; and 'The Monkey And The Apple' is the true story of what happened one half-term at Whipsnade Zoo.

Catching an idea when it comes, James believes, is essential. This is why he has an envelope in his pocket at all times – and because he heard that Paul McCartney wrote the lyrics to Hey Jude on the back of an old envelope.

Always listening to music, James’ particular faves include The Beatles, Tom Waits, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder and The Decemberists. James feels that songs are like little poems wrapped up in music.

Reading (not Reading!) is something that he has always been mad about. As a boy he loved comics and TinTin books. James visits his local library at least three times a week to get his weekly pile of poetry books, novels and picture books. James is and always has been a word nerd - and believes that as a writer, poems are the most fun you can have with words.

Trains are where he does most of his writing. James visits Primary schools all over the UK, so catches many trains. If you see someone sat on a train writing a poem on an envelope, that could – just could – be him.

Ever since he was young he has played all kinds of instruments. Apart from biscuit tin drums and badminton rackets more recently he's played the piano and the guitar. Nowadays he takes his melodica (that's Steve) all over the UK to schools / libraries / festivals. He likes doing this a) because it's great fun and b) it seems to frighten the teachers a bit.

Reading (not reading!) is where James was born on November 27, 1959. He can’t remember a single thing about it.

Back to top