February 10, 2015
Vivian French is the hugely popular author of over 200 children’s books, including the Tiara Club and Tales from the Five Kingdoms series as well as non-fiction books such as Caterpillar Butterfly and Growing Frogs. She took some time out from visiting schools in Birmingham as part of the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour to chat to us about persistent bats, her love of comic fantasy and her brand new series of books.
What do you enjoy most about writing the Tales from the Five Kingdoms series?
I have fun! I’ve created a fantasy world where I can invent cheery trolls, or grumpy dwarves, or helpful bats or worried rats, and I can make them do or say whatever brings the story to a satisfactory (and hopefully surprising) conclusion. Sometimes they take over; I didn’t mean to feature Marlon the bat in all six books, but he refused to be left out. I like it when that happens.
Are there plans for another Tales from the Five Kingdoms book?
Not at the moment, but I’m writing a new book in the same genre. I love comic fantasy, especially when there’s a touch of evil. The new book has deeply unpleasant ogres, and is based on the fairy tale idea that the seventh son of a seventh son is always a hero.
Having written over 200 books is it harder to come up with fresh ideas than when you started writing?
It’s not harder to come up with fresh ideas. It’s the voices I have to watch! I like to invent a different voice for each new character, and sometimes I hear an echo of someone else’s speech pattern – and then I have to think again.
Which book have you read recently that you would recommend to a friend?
Gregory Maguire’s book Egg and Spoon. He’s an extraordinarily imaginative writer; I love the way he takes a traditional story like Babar Yaga and twists and turns it round.
What’s your top tip for aspiring children’s authors
Read LOADS! And when you write, write something you really, really want to write … don’t write just for the sake of writing.
What are you working on at the moment?
The book about the seventh son of a seventh son; I’ve nearly finished that one. I’m also working on a six book series called Sam J Butterbiggins, Knight in Training. David Melling is illustrating it, and his pictures are hilarious!