Happy Book Birthday to the Upside Down Fish! Emma Pass interviews Kate Louise
Hi Kate, Happy Book Birthday! What’s The Upside Down Fish about?
Hi Emma! Yay, thank you! Upside-down Fish lives at a pet store in a tank full of fish that swim the right-way up. They don’t understand him and he’s lonely. He doesn’t like being one of a kind and thinks no one notices him. Then a girl comes into store and chooses him as a pet. He’s worried about his new home, that the fish won’t accept him like the ones back at the pet store, but they love that he’s a little bit different and want to know what the world looks like upside-down.
You’re already known as a YA author, with your dystopian romance debut Dark Days releasing from Sky Pony last year and another, The Wanderers, coming out this year (which I can’t WAIT to read, BTW!). What made you decide to write a picture book?
Thank you! My agent writes picture books and reps a lot of PB authors and illustrators. She knew I’d done a fine art degree and we got talking about it and whether I’d ever thought about writing and illustrating a picture book. I’m more about throwing paint than drawing and colouring inside the lines, but it got me thinking. I started reading more PBs and researching, and it all went from there. So I have Isabel to thank for that.
Your picture books are also published under a different name to your YA novels – you use your real name, Kate Ormand, for your YAs, and a pseudonym, Kate Louise, for your picture books. Why is this?
Though I do crossover with my social media accounts at times, I wanted to keep the two mostly separate. My YA novels are fairly dark, whereas the picture books are quite sweet and good fun. It made sense to me at the time to split the really young books (3+) from the older (12+).
How did the process of writing The Upside Down Fish differ from writing a full length novel?
There’s such small word count for a PB. You have to get your concept, voice, theme, and story into fourteen pages. I don’t know what I like more – 400 words or 80,000 words! Both have their ups and downs.
What was it like working with the illustrator, Laura Matine? Did you have any say in the final images?
I really enjoyed working with Laura. She emailed two spreads through early on and I thought her style was so charming and adorable. Her images fit the story so well, with soft lines and colours and lots of cute. My favourite spread is one that’s drawn upside-down, where the little girl is walking home with upside-down fish in a bag (below). It’s beautiful! I do like knowing that I have the opportunity to discuss the spreads, but I rarely need to pipe up. I’m very lucky to have someone so talented to work alongside.
Do you see yourself sticking to picture books from now on, or are you going to keep writing for a variety of age groups?
I have two more picture books due out this year – Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles in March with Bethany Straker, and Tough Cookie in November with Grace Sandford. At the moment, I’m not working on any new PB ideas but experimenting with MG. I love kidlit and feel fortunate to have the opportunity to explore a variety of age groups.
Do you have any pets – fish or otherwise – yourself? And if so, do they inspire your writing?
I used to have an upside-down fish when I was younger. It lived at my gran’s house with another fish that swam the right-way up. It’s something I’ve always remembered – being fascinated by this fish and excited to see it whenever I visited my gran. So that’s where the idea for UDF came from. Right now I have my dog, Freddie, who appears in Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles!
Thanks for such great answers, Kate. It’s been great chatting to you!
Thanks for such great questions, Emma. It’s been lovely chatting to you too!
Check out the adorable book trailer for The Upside Down Fish:
Kate Louise is picture book author of THE UPSIDE-DOWN FISH, PIERRE THE FRENCH BULLDOG RECYCLES, and TOUGH COOKIE. She lives in the UK with her family, her partner, and a cocker spaniel called Freddie. She graduated from university with a first class degree in Fine Art Painting. It was during this course that Kate rediscovered her love of reading, prompting her to try a new creative angle and experiment with writing. And she writes YA as Kate Ormand. Kate is represented by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors Ltd.
Emma Pass has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. Her debut novel, dystopian thriller ACID, is out now and was the winner of the 2014 North East Teenage Book Award. It was followed by THE FEARLESS, another stand-alone thriller for young adults, in April 2014, which has been nominated for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal. She is the current Patron of Reading for Titus Salt School in Yorkshire and lives with her husband and dog in the North East Midlands.