Don't Read This Interview with Jill Lewis

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Don't Read This Interview with Jill Lewis


Summary: Bookbag loved Don't Read This Book! by Jill Lewis and Deborah Allwright and couldn't wait to find out more about it. It's a brilliant twist on traditional story books, with the King wanting a story, but his story writer not having completed it yet. All the time, there's someone (you!) reading the incomplete book. Great fun. As highly recommended as they come.
Date: 27 January 2009
Interviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath

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Bookbag loved Don't Read This Book! by Jill Lewis and Deborah Allwright and couldn't wait to find out more about it. Jill Lewis (actually Jill Walkinton and Alison Lewis) was kind enough to answer our questions.

  • Don't Read This Book! weaves the words and illustrations together to make a glorious whole. How collaborative is the creation process?

Jill Lewis: Totally and utterly collaborative between Jill and Lewis and also between Jill Lewis & Deborah ...although Deborah is a mind reader so we don't need to be in constant communication with her. Deborah seemed to know what we were after straight away and we happily left her to it. Sarah Malley (Sarah Silver Shoes, as we call her) - the designer - possibly had one of the toughest jobs reining everyone in.

  • BB: How exciting was it to break all the rules when writing this book?

JL: Extremely! It's astonishing that Deborah and the team at Egmont could get it down on paper because there's a lot of theatre in this story - hardly any narrative, mainly dialogue, costume changes and set building. We had a ball but the others may have been tearing their hair out.

  • BB: The pea disappears into a limo at the end. Where's she going?

JL: Don't you mean where's HE going? He's off to see the premiere of his newly released film - Easy Peasy - in which he plays the role of a Super Pea for whom everything is, well, easy peasy and then he's off for a well earned holiday to his place in the south of France - Petit Pois.

  • BB: Is it hard for children's authors and illustrators to get the recognition that adult novelists get?

JL: Probably yes- but we are very grateful to be recognised at all! Deborah is well known now, but we are still fairly new to this although we have been writing ideas down for years.

  • BB: Which three books should every child read?

JL: That's a hard question. Goodnight Mr Tom, The Whales' Song, The Jolly Postman, anything by Susanna Gretz, Mr & Mrs Pig's Evening Out by Mary Rayner, Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl, Brian Patten's poetry books - oh dear, we can't count.

  • BB: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers and illustrators as to how to get published?

JL: If at first you don't succeed, try and try and try and try again. They say that you can expect 10 years of rejection and we are living proof of that.

  • BB: What are you reading at the moment?

JL: A recipe book - yes honestly - about making family suppers more interesting! And of course The Reluctant Fundamentalist. It's not as hard going as it may sound.

  • BB: Which book has most influenced you and do you still have a copy?

JL: Traditional Fairy Stories. We do have copies still, but they are getting quite tatty.

  • BB: Who was your favourite teacher at school and why?

JL: There were 2. Mrs Mason - the English teacher because she was passionate about her subject and injected fun and understanding into all of us even if we were hopeless cases. Miss Catto - she was funnily fierce and would carry me to the window if I forgot my times tables, as though she was going to throw me out. Couldn't do that today.

  • BB: What's next for Jill Lewis and Deborah Allwright?

JL: The Miniwiggler - a story about the Gob and a little something. It's another surreal and ridiculous story which we love and we know that Deborah's illustrations will realise the pictures we have in our minds perfectly.

  • BB: Thanks a lot - we can't wait for The Miniwiggler!

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