By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 13, 2012
Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep is Karen Inglis’s third published book and it is the first rhyming picture book in her series of six adventures about a boy and a fox. In this interview she happily shares insight about the characters and the creative process behind the tale. Inglis began writing stories for children over 12 years ago and she currently lives in south-west London, UK, with her family.
Bianca Schulze: Using rhyme and illustrations, readers are introduced to Ferdinand the fox and Peter Maceever. Can you tell us about each of these characters? And how you feel readers will identify with them?
Karen Inglis: Ferdinand was inspired by a beautiful urban fox I saw one misty November evening several years ago in London. I had just stepped outside and saw him trotting by under a streetlamp in a quiet backroad – he had the most beautiful coat, very kind eyes and a magnificent tail. That evening and over the following days and weeks I couldn’t stop thinking about him. Where was he going? What sort of fox was he? He certainly looked very special to me! As for Peter Maceever – I love the rhyme and just plucked his name out of the air as I was crafting the story. The tale itself is based on a true story – almost to the last detail! I think we are all fascinated one way or another by animals that come ‘from the wild’ and hope that young readers will identify with Peter Maceever’s excitement and curiosity to find out more about this fox and get up close!
BS: What else do you hope young readers will take away from a reading of your book?
KI: I hope they will take away the pleasure of how just a few carefully chosen words and very simple ideas can create a memorable story – hopefully, one they will want to pass on – and that they might spot their own Ferdinand Foxes when out and about! I also hope that parents reading ‘Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep’ to their much younger children will enjoy the opportunity the illustrations offer (jumping sheep, cake, ice-cream!) to share in conversation and simple learning. I loved those moments with my children when they were young!
BS: From the conception of the idea to published work, how long did it take you to complete Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep?
KI: I wrote the first draft over a day or so – then came back to it and refined the verse on and off over a matter of weeks. It then sat in a drawer for several years. Then, when I pulled it out again I refined it some more – right up to the moment it went to print! The illustrations were done this year but took a lot longer – on and off over 3 months – as I had to plan them all and then communicate what I wanted to my illustrator.
BS: Your first two children’s books were chapter books, The Secret Lake and Eeek! The Runaway Alien, written for an older audience. Did you need to adjust your writing style for your picture book to ensure it appealed to a young audience?
KI: In fact it was the other way around! I wrote my Ferdinand Fox stories a year before I started my books for older children! And I do remember feeling how strange it felt to switch to an entirely different style! It was a lot harder because I knew I had far more complex plots and themes to convey with The Secret Lake and Eeek!, which are for ages 7-11, but it was also very liberating realising that I didn’t have to make everything rhyme!
BS: Not everyone has the knack for creating appealing rhymes. Where do you think your ability came from? Do you have a favorite poet, one that inspires your own writing, perhaps?
KI: I’m not sure where my ability came from – but what I will say is that I loved reading the Hairy Maclary books to my two boys when they were toddlers. I – and they – couldn’t get enough of them. We never tired of them – and all loved the often long and complicated words!
BS: You worked closely with the illustrator Damir Kundalic. Would you share a little about how you connected with Kundalic and the process of collaboration between the two of you?
KI: The internet is an incredible place – and that is where I met Damir. He lives in Bosnia and I live in London! We have never met and correspond entirely online – I send him my stories together with sketches showing roughly how I envisage a particular scene. We then work together until we are happy with it. He is amazing! He also did the magical front cover for The Secret Lake and all of the interior illustrations for Eeek! The Runaway Alien!
BS: Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep is the first story in a series of six. What kinds of adventures should we expect to see from Peter Maceever and Ferdinand?
KI: Well – he certainly he does more than sleep and dream! The stories’ names may offer a hint of things to come: Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog; Ferdinand Fox and the Lost Boy; Ferdinand Fox and the Break-In; Ferdinand Fox, The Kittens and the Alley Monster and Ferdinand Fox’s Close Shave. A common thread running through them is Ferdinand’s innate kindness, combined with a streetwise sense that enables him to help others – both animals and humans – out of trouble. He’s also a bit of an unsung hero, but that doesn’t worry him – he’s usually got other things to think about, such as his next meal!
BS: As a parting note, is there anything you would like to share with your readers?
KI: I’d simply say that if you enjoy Ferdinand I’d love to hear from you! Many children have left reviews of The Secret Lake and Eeek! The Runaway Alien on those books’ websites and you can do the same on Ferdiand’s website. I always reply to reviews on my books’ sites! And if you’re able to leave a review elsewhere online – such as Amazon – that really helps to spread the word! I hope you will enjoy! Karen
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Well Said Press (1 December, 2012)
www.wellsaidpress.com – Children’s books by Karen Inglis
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