Eoin McLaughlin is the author of the new children's picture book This Book Is Not a Bedtime Story!. His other books include The Hug. He manages the creative department at 4creative, and he lives in Surrey, UK.
Q: What inspired you to write This Book Is Not a Bedtime Story?
A: I think I was tickled by the idea of a book that was trying to be what it wasn't. A naughty book.
Children love misbehaving, and pretending to break the rules, so I wanted to try and write a story that acted the same way. That felt somehow subversive. Even if it did end up being a bedtime story after all.
In terms of the writing itself, I think I was inspired by Edward Gorey at the time. The dark humour and gothic language he uses, often rhyming too.
Although myself and [illustrator] Robert [Starling]'s take on it is a little more child-friendly than Edward's. Not as many untimely deaths and such.
Q: What do you think Robert Starling's illustrations add to the story?
A: He added monsters! I love how bright and bold and graphic everything looks. He's drawn amazing characters, brought in loads of funny details and the amazing reveal at the end, when we realise the monsters are all actually very small and cute and cuddly.
Q: What would you say accounts for the ongoing fascination with monsters under the bed?
A: As soon as monsters stop hiding under our beds, I promise I'll stop writing about them.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: I hope the story makes children laugh.
On a more emotional level, I hope it allows both parents and children to empathize with each other at bedtime. It's hard for children when a really fun day comes to an end. They don't want it to end.
I have all kinds of problems getting my 3-year-old to sleep every night, and sometimes he can get quite cross and upset about it all.
As much as I might just be desperate for him to just go to sleep so I can get on with the rest of my glamourous evening (emptying dishwasher, tidying endless mess, eating leftover fish fingers, etc.) I guess it's good to think of his feelings too.
In some small way, I hope the book provides a moment for us all to see bedtime from each other's perspective.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I'm working on the next installment of my Hug series, with Polly Dunbar. And another bedtime story, actually. It's obviously a preoccupation of mine!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: This is very important. Did you know that this plant, the Monstera Deliciosa, is called a “monstera” because the holes in its leaves look like monster's eyes peering out at you from the jungle? Also commonly known as the “swiss cheese plant.” Either way, probably not one for your children's bedroom.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb