The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Paul Stewart And Chris Riddell

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Paul Stewart And Chris Riddell


Summary: Linda loved Muddle Earth Too and the chance to chat to the authors was just too good to miss.
Date: 19 September 2011
Interviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor

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Linda loved Muddle Earth Too and the chance to chat to the authors was just too good to miss.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell: Both of us see ourselves as avid 11 year old readers. We were into historical fiction, sci-fi and fantasy and now write books that we would have liked to read at that age.

  • BB: Does it matter that some younger readers won't get all the allusions and parodies in the 'Muddle Earth' series?

PS & CR: No, absolutely not. We wrote Muddle Earth and Muddle Earth Too as exciting and amusing stories that we hope will entertain our readers. The allusions and parodies are there to add another dimension for those who recognize them - which is always fun.

  • BB: Do you receive many letters from fans? What sort of things do they ask?

PS & CR: Yes, and we always reply to them. One question they always ask is, 'Where do you get your ideas from?' Chris gets his best ideas in the shower. Paul gets his in the bath. It must be something to do with the water.

  • BB: How difficult is it for two people to collaborate on a book?

PS & CR: It is a lot of fun, and particularly with books like Muddle Earth and Muddle Earth Too, it is always useful to have someone to bounce ideas off. Chris helps with the writing. Paul makes suggestions for the illustrations. The process gets all muddled up, but the important thing is the end result - the finished novel.

  • BB: Which comes first, the writing or the drawing?

PS & CR: Sometimes one, sometimes the other. We have no fixed way of working.

  • BB: Did you plan 'Muddle Earth Too' in detail before writing/drawing, or did the characters take over the story?

PS & CR: We did not plan the whole story, but had a loose outline. Muddle Earth Too is character-based and, once we'd let them loose, they steered us through to the end of the book.

  • BB: How difficult is it to continue creating a series which has been turned into a TV programme? Some of the characters there are new, or have been given slightly altered roles from the books.

PS & CR: We put the cartoon series out of our minds when we started writing Muddle Earth Too. The flower fairies, for instance, are completely different in the book. Novels and tv cartoons are very different things. We wanted Muddle Earth Too to be an absorbing and satisfying read.

  • BB: Will we see Joe and his friends in further adventures?

PS & CR: Watch this space!

  • BB: If you had to live in Muddle Earth, where would you choose? That Enchanted Lake sounds nice and peaceful!

PS & CR: Chris would be a wizard living on a houseboat on the Enchanted Lake. Paul would be a barbarian baker in the middle of Nowhere.

  • BB: You have created a wide range of books together. How do you choose which book or series will be next?

PS & CR: We write about subjects that interest and excite us. At the moment we're thinking about robots and space!

  • BB: Which books influenced you most when you were young?

PS & CR: Chris's favourite book was the Hobbit. Paul's was the Phantom Tollbooth. Both of us loved Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the Chronicles of Narnia.

  • BB: Do you enjoy appearing at book festivals? What was your funniest/best moment?

PS & CR: Yes, it is always fantastic meeting our readers at book festivals. We've had loads of funny questions, but we think the funniest one was asked in Boston, when a boy at the back asked, 'Why are your books so terrible?' It turned out, he meant, 'Why are your books so terrifying?' !!

  • BB: What's next for Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell?

PS & CR: We are currently working on the third book in the Wyrmeweald trilogy, our frontier fantasy. Think cowboys and dragons! And Chris is just finishing his second picture book about aliens, Alienography 2 - Tips for Tiny Tyrants. When these are done, we're thinking about writing something for TV.

  • BB: There's lots there for us to look forward to. Thanks for talking to us!

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