Monday, July 3, 2023

Q&A with Maureen Fergus




Maureen Fergus is the author of the new children's picture book Princess Pru and the Ogre on the Hill. Her many other books include Petal the Angry Cow. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.


Q: What inspired you to write Princess Pru and the Ogre on the Hill?


A: I’d always wanted to write a princess story because when my daughters were little, life was all about princesses, all the time. But I wanted to find a princess – and a story – that was out of the ordinary.


As I was playing around with ideas, I started thinking about preconceived notions and how damaging they can be. From there, it was a short jump to imagining a new-to-town ogre who had his party planning activities misinterpreted by those who assumed he was trouble — and a perceptive princess who stood her ground in order to give him a chance.

Q: The Kirkus Review of the book calls it “A lighthearted reminder that first impressions, like appearances, can be deceiving.” What do you think of that description?


A: To me, the story is more about the preconceived notions that we sometimes have of people who are different from us. If everyone had started out assuming that Oggy the ogre was a good guy, they would have interpreted his actions completely differently. If they had a bad first impression of him, that was on them, not on him.


And while the story is certainly lighthearted and funny and meant to be enjoyed, I would like to think that it could also serve as a jumping off point for some interesting and important discussions.


Q: What do you think Danesh Mohiuddin's illustrations add to the story?


A: The best illustrators elevate good stories to a whole new level and Danesh absolutely did that with this book. He did a wonderful job bringing Pru and the other characters to life, and every page is filled with humour and fun details. A young reader could look through the book a dozen times and spot something new each time.   


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between the princess and the ogre?


A: They don’t come face-to-face until the end of the book when Pru rides up the hill and knocks on Oggy’s door. Once they realize how much they have in common and how much fun they have together, they are inseparable. Pru considers it a friendship of equals; it never occurs to her that there are those that don’t see it the same way…


Q: What are you working on now?


A: We’re putting the finishing touches on the next Pru and Oggy book, I just finished writing the next two books in my early graphic novel Weenie series, and I’m working on a couple of new picture book manuscripts as well as a project that I can’t talk about yet but am very excited about!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Just that I hope everyone has a great summer!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Maureen Fergus.

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