Penny White Short Stories
The Monster Under the Bed
Most Recent Release:
The Monster Under the Bed
If you could cast your book for a film, who would play the parts?
I’d love Jodie Whittaker to play Penny White, since both Penny and I are keen Doctor Who fans. She would have to put on a different British accent, though, as Penny is from Northampton, England, not Yorkshire. As for her human romantic interest, I’d choose Paterson Joseph, mostly because he’s the person I’d like to see play the Doctor when Jodie Whittaker plans to move on.
Have you ever met your writing hero? If so, what were they like?
I never met her, but when I was a young teenager, I wrote a fan letter to Susan Cooper. I adored her Dark is Rising series, and I asked her some questions about the characters. She wrote back a long letter, and I still treasure it today. I remember that when I receive an email from a reader of my books, and I always write back. There is something exciting about contacting the person whose work has become important to you.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I enjoy the challenge of the ‘Penny White’ series precisely because I want each book to be able to be read on its own (so plot and character arcs within the story) but to also be part of a larger scheme which will cover nine novels. I love putting something into an earlier book which I know will come to fruition several books later.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I adore gryphons. The original depiction of half eagle, half lion meant that they represented majesty, namely the king of the birds and the king of the animals. They also combine the greatest of predators, one in the air and the other on land. I’ve lived with small parrots most of my life, and I would love to have a gryphon the same size. Including a cat sized gryphon, Morey, in ‘Penny White’ and, in later novels, his even smaller son Jago has been a bit of wish fulfilment.
Do you do a lot of research and why, or if not, why not?
Although I write fantasy, I’m keen that the different beings (dragons, unicorns, gryphons etc) have their own cultures and beliefs. I travel widely (my travel blog is at www.travellinghopefully.co.uk) and I am looking all the time for the ways people of other cultures look at the world, and how this affects their social structures and behaviour. However, probably the strangest bit of research I’ve done is how snails have sex.
What was your hardest scene to write from any of your books?
‘Penny White’ readers often single out Clyde, the snail shark, as their favourite character. Clyde inserted himself into the series in the very first book, coming as a bit of surprise to me. But he kindly showed me his character arc early on, which included him making a major personal sacrifice in order to bring peace between two warring groups of snail sharks. The scene was so hard to write that I allowed myself two glasses of wine that evening. Clyde has the purest soul of anyone I’ve ever met, and he’s been very forgiving.
What book do you wish you’d written and why?
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. C S Lewis created a fantastic world and characters which still speak to people today. And yet the book is very short, and in a style many of us would now consider old fashioned.