A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

The Great Gran Plan Book Birthday! Kerry Drewery interviews Elli Woollard

I’m so chuffed to be interviewing Elli Woollard about her new book – The Great Gran Plan!

I was lucky enough to have been sent a copy and it is a thing of beauty!

Great gran plan

The Great Gran Plan is a funny twist on two well-loved fairy tales – Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs, with clever rhyme and gorgeous illustrations. Can the Pig outwit the big bad wolf? Will he make it in time to warn Grandma? Can he and Grandma save the day?

It is a fabulously funny, and warm-hearted, book! And a terrific choice for reading aloud.

I had loads of questions I could’ve asked Elli, but managed to eke it down! Hope you enjoy!

The Great Gran Plan is a wonderful mixture of two well-known fairy tales – The Three Little Pigs and Red Riding Hood. How did you come up with the idea to mix the two?

I wrote it so long ago that I really can’t remember! The manuscript was accepted by Macmillan soon after I wrote it, but it’s taken a few years to come out. I was certainly going through a fairy tale phase when I wrote it (The Giant of Jum and Troll Stroll are both takes on well-known fairy tales), so I suppose it must have made sense in my head to combine some of the characters. The great thing about twists on fairy tales is that the readers generally know the characters, which gives you a lot of licence to play around with them. Picture books have very limited word counts, so anything that cuts out the need for too much explanation is good.

giant of jum

It works so well, I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there’s some excellent team work! Do you have any plans to write another fairy tale mash-up or are there any you’d particularly like to see done?

Every so often I have a play around with fairy tales, but I don’t have any concrete plans to write any more. Having said that, I’d quite like Goldilocks to come into a story somewhere…

I’m always amazed by rhyming stories – I used to run story telling sessions with pre-schoolers and they are a delight to read out loud. The Great Gran Plan has such a lovely rhythm to it as well as telling a great story. Does it more or less come straight out like that, or is there a lot of moving around of text and editing?

It’s actually prose that I struggle to write in! My agent generally likes the things I write in verse, but gives me the email equivalent of a slow disappointed head-shake whenever I send her prose stuff. I spent a lot of my childhood playing music, and I think that sense of rhythm just sticks. But I do wish there had been more editing with Gran Plan. Looking back on it, there are things that I would change.

The illustrator, Steven Lenton has done a fantastic job. How does the process work? Do you chat with him about how you see it?

Aren’t his illustrations just WONDERFUL? I’m really pleased at how they’ve turned out. I don’t think I saw any of Steve’s illustrations before I got the proofs though. I don’t like to get involved too much with what the illustrator is doing, because as far as I’m concerned it’s the illustrator’s book as much as mine. Unless something looked really wrong to me I’d rather give the illustrator complete licence. After all, they’re the experts at illustration, not me (as you’d know if you saw any of my attempts at drawing)!

steve lenton

Illustrator Steve Lenton

I notice on your bio it says that you started writing stories after an incident where your youngest son broke Michael Rosen’s glasses! Can you share with us what happened?

It’s here, on this very blog:

And quick fire fun round –

Favourite flavour ice-cream?

In this country, chocolate. But if that sounds boring, when I lived in Thailand I used to love Wall’s ‘Asian Delight’ ice-cream. It’s based on traditional Thai ice-cream, and contains coconut milk, sweetcorn, and pandan-flavoured tapioca noodles. For some reason it has never caught on over here. I can’t imagine why.

ice cream

Favourite book growing up?

Ooo, impossible question! Possibly Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising, if you tortured me into choosing just one.

Favourite book to read aloud?

Another impossible question! I suppose it depends on who I’m reading to. But I love reading BJ Novak’s The Book With No Pictures, despite having had to read it every single day to my youngest son for well over a month.

Favourite place to be?

Give me a field, a few trees, some nice wildflowers and warm sunshine, and I’m generally happy.

Favourite food?

Coffee. It’s not food? Oh. Maybe hummus with jalapenos then. Or marmite. I’m weird.

Cats or dogs?

I have to say cats, or else my cat would probably murder me (she’s sitting on my lap as I type). Luckily for her I love her dearly, even though she often does a good impression of being evil incarnate.

Crisps or cake?

Whmmmf? Sorry, just finishing a mouthful. Cake, hands down. Silly question.

book cake

Beach or mountains?

Definitely more of a mountain person. Until I look down, and remember that I’m not a fan of heights.

TV or cinema?

TV, any time. I’ve never quite understood why you’d want to pay silly money to listen to people munching popcorn for a couple of hours.

Tea or coffee?

Tea is tannin-flavoured dishwater. Coffee is the drink of the gods. I realise this isn’t very British.

Big thanks to Elli!

The Great Gran Plan is out today with MacMillan.


This entry was posted on September 21, 2017 by .
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