Welcome to my stop in the Finding Black Beauty blog tour!
Now usually I'd ramble on about several things but due to a wrist injury, I'm afraid I'll be keeping my commentary short and sweet! So, Black Beauty is one of my favourite classics which meant I was super willing to take part in this tour and host a Q&A with lovely author - Lou Kuenzler! Also, check out that cover!!! SUPER GORGEOUS.
Make sure to keep up with the rest of the tour and check out earlier posts hosted by other amazing bloggers!
Now onto the Q&A!
Shall we begin with my favourite introductory question? Tell us something we don't know about you!
I was born left handed but was forced to write with my right. I think it explains a great deal about the way I engage with - and often get in a muddle over - the everyday world around me. Things quite often just seem a little bit the wrong way round. But perhaps that is why I am a writer. Fiction is a great way to make sense of chaos.
You've written a variety of children books - what made you choose to write about a classic? Why Black Beauty?
I think revisiting classic books is a great way to engage contemporary readers with wonderful stories they might otherwise overlook. I hope children who read Finding Black Beauty and have not previously discovered Anna Sewell’s original will do so now. I loved Black Beauty as a child, mostly for the sheer drama of the story. It is about life and death - it is a book where things really matter. I loved that.
On the topic of classics, is it something you read a lot of? Which is your favourite?
Truthfully, Black Beauty really was one of my favourite books as a child. I was lucky enough to have a (small, fat, hairy) pony of my own. I read Anna’s Sewell’s classic many times - always pretending that Black Beauty could one day be mine. I remember sitting in the back of the car, driving along the motorway, and jumping the hedges on the wonderful black horse in my mind.
For someone who rarely reads classics, which classics would you recommend?
Other than Black Beauty, it would have to be The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. That glorious moment when Lucy steps out of the back if the dusty World War II wardrobe into the snow and wonder of Narnia. It’s like a doorway right into C.S Lewis’s imagination … and then we get to have tea with a faun!
What is your writing process like? Do you plan beforehand or dive right in and plot as you go?
I do plan. I teach Writing For Children to adults at City Lit College in London. An analogy I often use with my students is that if you want to make a journey to Scotland, a little planning is going to stand you in good stead. At least knowing you should head north is a good start. Train, bus or car? Without these basic things, you will be in a terrible muddle very quickly. Writing fiction is much the same. You don’t want to end up going via Truro on a bicycle if you were heading for Aberdeen by plane. Strangely though, once the planning is in place, if you decide a detour to Truro is a good idea, that can often work out just fine!
Which authors inspire you the most? Which ones shaped you to be who you are today?
Gosh, I do think the writers we read nourish us and leave their mark. I love Jane Austen. I don’t know if she has actually shaped my writing (I should be so lucky!) but I do know that I marvel at her use of character to drive a plot.
I was also lucky enough to do a writing workshop with David Almond very early in my career. He taught me never to underestimate children’s capacity for fiction - they are young, not stupid. This is such an important thing to remember. Always respect the reader.
Let's switch things up a little! If you could go on a writing retreat with 3 authors, who would you pick?
Oh - J K Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson and Judith Kerr - three fabulous women who, between them, know just about anything there is to know about telling stories for children. I hope someone brings cake ...
If you had the chance to co-write a book together with another author, who would it be? Why?
I was asked this recently in another blog and thought about picture books, so here I will turn my mind to longer fiction. I would love to collaborate with Jeremy Strong and do something for older teens (a bit of a departure for us both). I would love to trade jokes and build our combined but different humour into the heart of a really funny teen-mishap plot.
Is there a specific genre you'd like to write but just haven't had the chance to yet? (e.g. Thriller, Dystopia)
I would like to have a go at detective fiction. I love the idea of developing a plot around a series of clues false leads.
How do you feel about book-to-movie or book-to-theatre adaptations? Is it something you'd like to see happen with Finding Black Beauty?
Yes please! As a book lover, I always like to read the book before seeing the movie but there have been some great adaptations - alongside some absolute stinkers - but let’s not name names. I would love to see Finding Black Beauty made into a film or TV series: think Poldark meets Victoria with lots and galloping and great costumes!
Can you give us a little hint about your next book or work in progress?
I have a new very young picture book, My Digger Is Bigger, with gorgeous illustrations by Dan Taylor coming out with Scholastic next year. Meanwhile, for older readers, i am definitely thinking history and animals (but I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait and see) ...
What advice would you give someone who wishes to write a retelling of a classic?
Make sure you love the original book - you are going to have to spend a lot of time with it! Then, don’t worry about it too much. Whatever you do, the original will still always be there for readers to enjoy.
Thanks so much for being on my blog Lou! Loved those answers and cannot wait to read Finding Black Beauty!
You guys should definitely check out her work. All links below!