Sunday, November 27, 2022

Q&A with Suzy Senior




Suzy Senior is the author of the new children's picture book Who Will Kiss the Crocodile?. Her other books include Octopants. She is based in the UK.


Q: What inspired you to write this new version of the Sleeping Beauty story, and why did you choose a crocodile as the main character?


A: Writing this book was a bit unusual, as the storyline and characters were all inspired by the title! Usually, I’ll have an idea, write the story, and we’ll pitch it to publishers along with a snappy title. However, in this case, the publisher already had a title in mind - but no story to go with it!


It was the “kiss” bit which made me think of Sleeping Beauty, and the rest just fell (slowly) into place. The story was such fun to write - I’m very glad their team liked it!


Q: What do you think Claire Powell's illustrations add to the book?


A: Isn’t Claire amazing? One of the things I love most about picture books is the way that words and pictures have to work together to make a whole. I send off the words, then it’s always incredible to see how it takes shape once the illustrations are underway.


I especially love the way Claire chose the two different eras to illustrate either side of the 100(-ish)-year sleep. We see a glorious Victorian party at the beginning, then a brilliant ‘80s disco at the end. I adore the way Claire has illustrated the Handy Grans and their van too. You can tell just from looking at them that they will get things done!

Q: What did you see as the right balance between the original Sleeping Beauty and your own take on the story?


A: It felt important to keep enough of the original for it to feel familiar and echo the original “shape” of the story. However, we already had a crocodile in the mix, and that led on to wondering who might be brave enough to kiss that crocodile. . . so there was plenty to play around with!


Often in fairy tales, the princesses are characters who things “happen to,” so alongside the fabulous Handy Grans, we wanted to ensure that Princess Liss is a strong, active, character (despite being asleep for much of the time). As you’ll see, it's Liss who puts things to rights at the end of the story!


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: Most of all, I hope they’ll enjoy it – have a giggle at the funny bits, love being read to or reading for themselves, and have a great time exploring all the fab artwork!


It will be wonderful if children are inspired to create their own mixed-up fairy tales too. They’re a great starting point for creating your own stories – even just changing one thing from a traditional story, and seeing where that might end up!


I bet some grown-ups will enjoy the ‘80s nostalgia along the way, too!


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on more rhyming picture books with animal characters, and a couple of Christmas books. It’s all very exciting, and keeping me pretty busy!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I chose the name Princess Liss, not only because it rhymed with kiss (helpful!), but also because I liked how it sounded a bit like the scientific name for crocodiles, “crocodylus.”


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Suzy Senior.

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