This month the fabulous Sophy Henn came in to design our new window and share the love of her new picture book The Best Worst Day Ever.
While chatting away and distracting her we bombarded her with questions, heres what we learnt:
Tell us a little about your new book The Best Worst Day Ever?
It’s inspired by what I used to do when I was little – “run away” to the end of the garden when I was in a strop, but got bored after about 5 minutes. On my walk back to the house I was always thinking how maybe I shouldn’t have shouted. So this is what happens to Arthur, he has that feeling of facing the music. But on his way back he meets all these animals that help him make the day better – and this is The Best Worst Day Ever.
Was Arthur based on anyone?
His name is my dad’s middle name. And his actions are based on me, but sadly I didn’t meet all the characters on my way back up the garden like he does.
How do you come up with the idea, did you create the illustrations first and add words or the other way round?
Words came first this time, but sometimes it works the other way round. The story was based on my memory and I came up with Arthur’s character while thinking about it. Most times I come up with the character first, then the story.
What is the worst best day ever that you had had?
That is a good question!
It was my daughter’s 5th birthday party and we had the party entertainer booked for a year. And they cancelled the day before (for absolutely understandable reasons). So I rang Mr Pumpkin who’s done a previous party and he did half the entertaining and I did half the entertaining, and it ended up being the best party she’s ever had.
I just realised that at some point you just have to let things go and get on with it.
As an illustrator and author what inspires you?
My childhood memories, remembering what my daughter or her friends have done. Essentially kids inspire me – what they say or do, how they see the world …
What’s easier – writing or illustrating?
OOOOHHH!!! They both have their challenges – some days I can write and other days I can’t. And it’s the same with illustrating. But one thing is sure – writing is quicker than illustrating (note: Sophy only whispered that to us)
What advice would you give to people that want to write a picture book?
Think who you are writing for – even though a story is interesting for you, you need to think if it will appeal to a 3 year old. Think about how you want to make them feel. Be open to sharing your work and be open to constructive criticism. And edit, edit, edit … These would be my golden rules.
Do you have anything exciting in the pipeline (apart from Pizzaz 3 of course)?
Pizazz 3 is out next month. I’m working on my new picture book already, but can’t say much yet. Also a new book in Lifesize series – this one will be about baby animals. And I’m writing a middle grade novel – there will be an illustrative aspect as well, but mostly a lot of text.
Would you illustrate someone else’s work or let someone else illustrate your story?
Yeah, I’d be up for it, if it was the right book. At the moment I’m probably too busy, but I’d definitely think about it.
I don’t know if I’d let someone else illustrate my work, because I have an idea in my head how it should look and then I wouldn’t have control if it was someone else illustrating.
Which 3 children’s books would you recommend?
Obviously Pizazz 1, 2 and 3! 😀
Geenie and Teeny, because Steven Lenton is hilarious and he did put me in the illustrations in a David Baddiel book (it’s Taylor Turbochaser, we looked it up!)