Toby Young and Ruth Rendell help out stroke victims through writing

Interactions, a book created by the InterAct reading service, a charity that helps stroke victims

Highgate-raised author and free-school pioneer Toby Young might usually be too busy to take on off-spec projects, but when a friend asked him to contribute to an upcoming anthology he couldn’t refuse.

“My friend had a stroke in his mid-thirties, completely unexpectedly, when his baby boy was playing with him. His baby boy choked off the blood supply to his brain, completely accidentally and he had a heart defect which he didn’t know about, so he had a stroke. He has made a complete recovery now.”

Reading sessions

Young dusted off a short story he had in his bottom drawer to donate to Interactions, a book created by the InterAct charity which helps stroke victims through reading sessions with actors.

The book includes contributions from Ruth Rendell, Seamus Heaney and Alan Ayckbourn, among others.

Young’s story, Vegas, is about a father and son who become trapped in a life-threatening situation.

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The inspiration for the author, who has just opened a free school, was his own family holiday.

“I spent two weeks in Las Vegas with my family. I have four children, aged eight and under. We rented a houseboat in Las Vegas on this lake. I think I got the idea for a story when we got stuck in the mud in this houseboat. I realised that it was very isolated, and that if it was just me and him, then it would be really difficult.”

The InterAct reading service operates across the country in stroke clubs and hospitals, including the Royal Free Hospital.

Interactions is published by Roast, priced 15.99.