The Interview: Bookbag Talks To B C R Fegan

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To B C R Fegan

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Summary: Jill thought that The Grumpface by B C R Fegan and Daniela Frongia was sweet, funny and vividly illustrated. She had quite a few questions for author Bryce Fegan when he popped into Bookbag Towers.
Date: 23 April 2017
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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Jill thought that The Grumpface by B C R Fegan and Daniela Frongia was sweet, funny and vividly illustrated. She had quite a few questions for author Bryce Fegan when he popped into Bookbag Towers.

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

B C R Fegan: Great question! I have always pictured the ideal environment for those immersing themselves in The Grumpface to be beside a stone hearth. With the fire lighting up an otherwise dark room, a grandfather or grandmother sits gleefully reading the book with the warmth and animation that only a grandparent can possess. Opposite the grandparent, on the right side of the hearth, sits a mother and father just as enthralled in the tale, but listening in silence. Directly in front of the fire, wrapped in a snuggly blanket, two children hang on every word of the story as they delight in the magic and giggle at the incompetence of the protagonist.

As you can probably tell, despite the book being written primarily for children, I wanted it to be loved by members of all generations. I think that is what is magical and exciting about fairy tales. They can be loved by everyone.

  • BB: What made you want to write a book for children?

BCRF: I have always loved children’s picture books. Even when I was quite young, I remember being particular about the books I read. My once-a-week excursion to the state library would often see me sift methodically through children’s picture books looking for titles that drew my interest.

Now that I am a little older, I still haven’t grown out of my love for children’s picture books. Sure, I grew into YA fiction (which I also still love) and then fantasy, mysteries, thrillers and even poetry. However chances are, if you came across me in a library or bookstore, I would be sitting on a small child-sized chair, engrossed in a picture book. I enjoy them because they have the power of distilling an entire imaginative journey into such a small space. I enjoy them because they have pictures often drawn by talented artists. I enjoy them because now, finally after all these years, I have the opportunity to contribute to this exciting world. A world that has the potential to influence a child’s appreciation of books in their formative years.

  • BB: And what gave you the idea for Grumpface himself?

BCRF: I have always loved children’s picture books. Even when I was quite young, I remember being particular about the books I read. My once-a-week excursion to the state library would often see me sift methodically through children’s picture books looking for titles that drew my interest.

Now that I am a little older, I still haven’t grown out of my love for children’s picture books. Sure, I grew into YA fiction (which I also still love) and then fantasy, mysteries, thrillers and even poetry. However chances are, if you came across me in a library or bookstore, I would be sitting on a small child-sized chair, engrossed in a picture book. I enjoy them because they have the power of distilling an entire imaginative journey into such a small space. I enjoy them because they have pictures often drawn by talented artists. I enjoy them because now, finally after all these years, I have the opportunity to contribute to this exciting world. A world that has the potential to influence a child’s appreciation of books in their formative years.

  • BB: We loved the format of rhyming couplets - it adds impact and encourages repetition. Was it always your intention to write Grumpface in this way?

BCRF: Thank you. Yes, The Grumpface lent itself well to this simple form of poetry from the very start.

When I first began writing The Grumpface, I really wanted to draw on the general narratives of traditional fairy tales but capture that familiar cadence of a children’s nursery rhyme. I enjoy poetry and the way it can enliven a story. However, unless it offers a story greater ambience, rhythm or emotion, it has no place in any tale. Put another way, rhyming for the sake of rhyming can be more of a hindrance than a gift to the reader. I certainly hope that children and adults alike feel that the poetry is an indispensable part of the story.

  • BB: Which three books should every child read?

BCRF: Such a difficult question. I think my pick for the early years would be The Boy with a Drum by David L. Harrison. Excellent rhythm and memorable rhyme. I think many parents who have read this book to their young children have had the experience of reading it to death.

For the slightly older children, I will have to pick a fairy tale. One of my favourites is the story commonly known as Puss in Boots which comes from Charles Perrault’s collection.

Finally, for older children, I recommend The Enchanted Wood (in its original form) by Enid Blyton. Her books are imaginative classics. She knew how to write an exciting tale for children despite the criticism she received at the time of her publication and even today.

  • BB: What would be your own desert island book?

BCRF: Allow me to limit myself to fiction in keeping with the spirit of these questions.

I think hands down, the book that I would most like to have with me on a desert island is The Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan. It is a masterful work of art in every way. A feat made even more impressive by the fact that it was written in the 17th Century.

  • BB: What is your writing process? Do you need a special place or time to write?

BCRF: I think it depends on what I am writing. I often find myself writing feverously at the back of a quietly situated café. Good coffee can be a writer’s best friend, so this may have something to do with it. I am also inspired by the raw power and wild beauty in nature. Old libraries also have a strange magic within them that I find motivating.

I am yet to experience the perfect setting for uninhibited musings but I have a strong suspicion that my ideal environment would combine all three of these situations into one. To paint the picture – I would sit behind an old oak desk carved with character and charm within the confines of my private library. A fire would energetically cast a warm glow about the cosy room and through large bay windows, I would look out over forests, mountains, and perhaps a distant ocean. A storm would provide the musical ambience and the rich, roasted aroma of a good espresso would accompany a rustic, leather notebook with a smooth and nicely weighted pen.

  • BB: You paint a very appealing picture there, Bryce! How did you find the publishing process? How much of a challenge is it to bring one's book to publication?

BCRF: As many authors would be aware, the world of publishing is huge. Navigating the right path can be as perilous as a ship sailing in treacherous waters. It doesn’t matter how good your vessel is, it often comes down to your skill as a sailor. I spent considerable time researching the publishing process and making sure the book was as good as it could be. Then I spent even more time making sure that I had a solid platform from which I could provide exposure for the book.

At the end of the day, the path I took to becoming a published author was rooted in decades of creative writing followed by years of technical research. It has actually been an enjoyable adventure!

  • BB: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

BCRF: That’s always a hard question to answer. I see myself as an aspiring author so I’m not sure I’d be comfortable offering any advice at all. I think I would appeal to any aspiring author to focus on writing tales that are transgenerational rather than the lifespan of a cultural issue. We need more imaginary and well written tales that will inspire generations to come.

  • BB: What's next for B C R Fegan?

BCRF: I have another five children’s picture books at various stages of the publishing process, so they will all launch in due time. Right now I am working on the second book of a three-book YA series. The first book should be out in early 2018.

  • BB: We wish you luck with all the books, Bryce. There's certainly plenty for us to look forward to there. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

You can read more about B C R Fegan here.

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