YOU GUYS! So, I don't do that many blog tours, because they can be work. But occasionally I do, usually for an author I'm already a huge fan of.
The good people at Albert Whitman approached me for this one and it said I could interview the author. I COULD INTERVIEW HILARY MCKAY. Fortunately, they asked over email, and not in person, so they didn't see my stunned stammering followed by my ecstatic happy dance.
Then it took me FOREVER to come up with questions, because all I really wanted to ask was "what's your secret to being totally awesome?" and "Is Saffy real, and if so, can I be her second-best friend (after Sarah)?"
Luckily (for you), I pulled it together. I reviewed McKay's latest, the Lulu books, yesterday.
Questions about Lulu:
Lulu is known for animals. At the beginning of Lulu and the Dog from the Sea, she has "two guinea pigs, four rabbits, one parrot, one hamster, a lot of goldfish, and a rather old dog named Sam." She's also not your only character to have a backyard menagerie (the Cassons, for instance). How many pets do you have? What animal have you always wanted as a pet, but are unable to have?
At the moment I have only one cat and a lot of goldfish. I am looking out for a puppy but it has to be the right one. In the past, especially when my children were younger, we have had rabbits (several) hamsters (three) guinea pigs (two) dogs (two) hedgehog (one) tortoise (one). As a child I longed for a donkey, but I have got over this now.
What is Lulu's dream pet? Where would Lulu's parents draw the line at what she could adopt, even if she did clean up after it?
Well, Lulu isn't silly! I think she would probably like all sorts of wild and interesting animals in her life, but perhaps not as pets. Maybe she will end up working in conservation. She is very interested in animal welfare.
I think her parents might draw the line at snakes. In a later book in the series a snake is mentioned and her mother is not enchanted.
In the illustrations, Lulu is a person of color, even though this is never mentioned in the text. How did you convey this factor to your editor and illustrator?
I said "Let's make Lulu black." And they said, "Yes okay." So we did.
Will we see more of Lulu?
I hope so! There are six books out here and I have two more to write.
Questions about your work in general:
You've written for a wide variety of ages, from picture books to YA. What's your favorite age-range to write for? How hard is it to switch between age-ranges?
My favourite age range is the 10+ books, when you can be a bit more self indulgent with jokes and descriptions and hope the reader hangs on with you. I think books for younger readers are much harder- you need an equally strong plot and characters, but you have fewer words to achieve your end. Illustrations help. Priscilla Lamont's Lulu illustrations have been a wonderful asset to the stories.
Which one of your characters is your favorite? Whose voice refuses to leave your head?
I don't have a favourite character- or at least not a perennial favourite. There are some that I have become very fond of. Lulu is one (and Mellie is another). I have a grumpy young lad in my latest book who has stolen my heart at the moment!
English-English and American-English are not the same, which can cause issues for Americans, especially new readers. The Lulu books have been 'translated' into American. How much of your work in general gets this treatment? How do you feel about it?
I should say that at least three quarters of my work eventually makes its way across the water. The translations are minimal, and I rarely find them difficult. We have a lot of American culture over here, don't forget; films and tv and music, perhaps more than goes back the other way, so the American editions feel quite familiar. (I wonder a lot more about the translations into languages I have no hope of reading! Chinese, Korean, Arabic- I look at the pretty writing and hope for the best!) Also, I was brought up on American children's literature- everything from Alcott onwards. Laura Ingalls, Eleanor Estes, LM Montgomery (okay, Canadian there), Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and lots more. Ursula le Guin. So in some ways I feel quite at home.
How do I feel about it? Thrilled. Enchanted. Privileged.
Questions about you:
If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were Lulu's age, what would say?
Things were not good for various small reasons when I was Lulu's age. I would say, 'It'll be all right in the end.'
What are you currently reading?
Sara Wheeler The Magnetic North
What are you currently watching?
Grey light across the valley. I wish Spring would come!
What are you currently listening to?
Nothing. I can hear a blackbird singing, far away traffic, my daughters flute, and the washing machine.
Thank you so much for stopping by!
Tomorrow, Hilary McKay will be at Bring on the Books. You can see her full tour schedule here. I especially want to highlight her excellent post about libraries that appeared earlier in the week on GreenBeanTeenQueen.
Want to win a signed copy of a Lulu book for your very own? (The answer is OF COURSE I DO, JENNIE!) Fill out the form below and I'll pick a winner next weekend!
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