Ever since I can remember myself, books were a big part of my life. Everyone in my family has been a voracious reader and one of my grandfather’s was an illustrator for one of Russia’s biggest publishing houses. Bookshelves were always groaning under the weight of the books, even though they weren’t as widely or easily available, as they are now, nor were we spoilt by choice compared to today’s young generation of readers. What warms my heart though is that modern ways of life haven’t changed my deeply seeded love of reading. Luckily, whether through genes, personal example or both, that love has been passed on to my children, who now recommend books to me, as was the case with children’s author Kieran Larwood and his ‘The Five Realms’ series (so far there has been three Podkin One Ear books, each got double thumbs up from my son & I), who my son has put on my “reader’s radar”.
Encouraged by his English teacher (thank you Kere!), my son started creating a weekly newspaper for his Senior School last year and now spends his Sundays eagerly creating content & visuals for Mii News, much to my inner pride and delight (considering the fact that my mother is a former journalist, who worked for various newspapers, I guess there is a lot to be said for genes and leading by example in the seen and unseen ways .)
A couple of weeks ago I saw some news about Kieran Larwood on my Twitter feed and passed them on to my son, knowing he would be excited by the latest developments. He certainly was delighted, but also asked if he could ask Kieran some questions for his newspaper. Much to our delight, Kieran agreed & this past weekend, in preparation for The World Book Day on March 7th, my son included Q & A with Kieran in Mii News, which was distributed to students & teachers at his school on Monday. After seeking permission from both Kieran & my son, I am delighted to share this Q & A with you and your children!
What inspired you to become an author and create Podkin One Ear?
Kieran Larwood (KL): I loved reading fantasy books as a child, and wanted to create the perfect bedtime story for my daughter, who was 7 at the time.
Who is your favourite character in the book and why?
KL: I love the children, Podkin, Paz and Pook, because they are based on my own children, and also me and my brothers when we were little.
How many books will there be in the Podkin One Ear series?
KL: I am hoping to write 9 altogether (although 4,5 and 6 will be about some other characters!)
What was your favourite book during your childhood and why?
KL: I loved “The Hobbit”, because it was the first fantasy book I read, and made me realise that stories can be set in any world or place.
When did you start writing books?
KL: I didn’t start until I was about 30. I wanted to be an illustrator, and was making up stories to draw pictures for, when I discovered I preferred the writing part.
Did you get rejected by any publishing companies when you submitted your first book and if so, what made you not give in?
KL: Yes, lots. It’s very difficult to get published. You have to be very determined. I had some agents say nice things about my book, which made me believe in myself a bit more.
What are your plans for the future?
KL: I am hoping to sell enough books to keep on writing! I would love to develop some new series set in different worlds.
Will there be any movies of Podkin One Ear?
KL: I have just sold the rights, and there is a company hoping to make an animated TV series. Fingers crossed!
Why did you choose to write books for children and not adults?
KL: I think because I was a teacher at the time, but also because the magical books I read as a child have stayed with me all my life, in a way that books for adults don’t.
Why did you choose rabbits as the main animal in the book?
KL: It all came from doodles I had done in my sketchbook, of rabbits with armour and swords. I thought it would make a good idea for a fantasy world.
What advice would you give to children to help improve their creative writing?
KL: Make sure you read as much as possible! Keep notebooks for ideas and things that inspire you, and just practice lots and lots.
What were your top 3 favourite books during the last year?
KL: I loved “The House With Chicken Legs” by Sophie Anderson, “Begone the Raggedy Witches” by Celine Kiernan and “The Sun King” by Emma Carroll.
I want to finish this post by saying a huge “thank you” to Kieran for taking the time and sharing his personal & writing experiences with my son and other children. Modern world can feel impersonal & disconnected at times, so to see a strong bond between generations, talking and learning from each other is incredibly heart-warming. I encourage my children to be brave & confident, to follow their dreams and to keep on trying, when they want to achieve something, even if they don’t succeed straight away. To reach out to people that inspire them or they admire. To ask questions or for advice on things that are important to them, no matter how small. To learn. To speak up for themselves. To support each other in good times and bad. And as a fan of Kieran Larwood’s books thanks to my son, I am particularly grateful to him as a mother, for his encouragement of the young generation when it comes to learning, writing, reading and following their passions and dreams; helped, assisted, nurtured and guided by the grown-ups that are generous with their own time and experiences, in order to help children grow and accomplish things personally and professionally. After all, children are the future and we need to do our best to prepare them for things to come.
For further information about Kieran, his books and news, please check the links below: