In the run-up to our Mini Book Festival we’re interviewing the writers involved. This time it’s Fleur Hitchcock, author of the popular MG novel, DEAR SCARLETT and the very funny SHRUNK! series.
You have an exciting and rather beautiful new book out soon. What’s it all about?
BUS STOP BABY is about Amy – a 13 year old girl who lives in a village, very much like the villages around here. It’s just after Christmas and she comes home on the school bus one freezing night to find a newborn baby abandoned at the bus stop. I won’t tell you more, because that will ruin the story, except to say that Amy’s life is turned upside down as a result. It’s a feelgood kind of a book, and I really enjoyed writing it.
Who or what inspires you?
Beautiful mornings. Just seeing the countryside either in winter or summer really lifts me and helps the ideas to gel in my head. That and listening to people on the bus, in the market, in cafes.
What does BOAMBF mean to you?
It means the library – reading, engaged children, a true community effort, a warm sense of lovely.
And the Summer Reading Challenge?
I totally adore the Summer Reading Challenge. My son grew up on it, and now I volunteer in the library to listen to children telling me about the books that they’ve read. I really enjoy hearing about their experience with a book. They don’t like all of them, but often they read something they’d never have gone near. Last year I heard all about a book on cricket. It wouldn’t have interested me, I’d never have suggested it, but this boy brought the book to life – he absolutely loved it and rushed off to find another one
What will you be doing at the Festival?
My event will be a workshop. It will be all about BUS STOP BABY, and the people involved. It will be about losing and finding and about families and their secrets. It should be fun, and thought provoking. Perfect for someone who doesn’t always like writing very much, and perfect for someone who loves writing.
What’s your experience of school visits and festivals?
I do lots of school visits and I’ve done quite a bundle of festivals. If I didn’t visit schools I wouldn’t get the feedback I need to be a writer. Adults are OK, but children are much more honest and direct. Also, there’s nothing like standing in front of 300 people to make you concentrate and refine and improve.
What’s the best question you’ve ever been asked at an event?
Talking of direct. I was at the James Reckitt Award in Hull a couple of years ago with a lovely long signing queue that was making me feel fabulous, when a girl came up to me and said: “Oh – Dear Scarlett? Did you write that?” “Yes,” I said, with pride. “Really,” she said. “I thought it was really boring.”
Oh no! 😦 Moving on…
Have you appeared in any strange venues?
I did a school event from the stage in a school where the nativity was all set up. I left my books on the baby Jesus’s crib and felt as if I should burst into song at any moment.
Who is your favourite author?
Oh dear – there are so many – Joan Aiken, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Giancarlo Gemin, Hilary Mckay, S. F Said…
Tell us a joke
Where does Julius Caesar keep his armies? Up his sleevies.
Thank you, Fleur. See you at the Festival!