AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Emma Middleton
The lovely Emma Middleton is an incredibly talented author and illustrator, and has an amazing work ethic to boot. To celebrate the release of her latest picture book, The Lion in our Living Room (check back for my review, coming soon), I sat down with Emma to find out more:
Can you tell us a bit about your book, and the themes/issues it explores?
The Lion in our Living Room is essentially about fathers, families and the love they share through creative engagement. Tom and Tilly hope the mighty lion will come to play, and eagerly anticipate his arrival. The thrill and vision of the lion is vividly depicted, as the children delight in lion rides, games of chasey and hide and seek. The Lion in our Living Room celebrates the modern-day father. A father who is engaged, loving, full of fun and of course King of the living room!
What was the inspiration behind writing this particular story, and did it change much as you were writing it?
I distinctly remember sitting down to write on this particular morning. Without any preconceived ideas, I meditated upon specific feelings of childhood. Focusing on positive emotions I remembered the endless waiting, the endless wishing, the endless hoping. What if my characters were waiting for a special visitor? An exciting and fun filled visitor. What about a lion? I thought, now that could be fun! Eventually the true identity of the lion was revealed. Of course, all of these elements have been gathered and re-arranged from my collective memories.
How do you hope readers will connect with the book, and/or what do you want them to take away from it?
I hope readers will connect with the emotions of joy, excitement and hope. Perhaps The Lion in our Living Room will also inspire creative play, but most importantly I feel this story validates and recognises imagination and the essential role that fathers play in their children's lives.
What influences do you think shape your writing?
My writing is influenced by my hopes and aspirations for children and the world. I am influenced by many great authors, poets, artists and musicians as I strive to bring joy, rhythm and rhyme into my stories.
Are there any tidbits from the publishing process of this book that you could share with regards to working with the publishers and/or the illustrator?
The Lion in our Living Room is most definitely a team effort. I was privileged to work with a brilliant team of editors (Clair Hume and Davina Bell) and Briony Stewart brought the story to life with her whimsical and detailed illustrations.
Can you let us in on any sneak peeks into your next book or other project?
I am thrilled to reveal there will be a follow-up book titled The Bear in our Backyard; a fun and tender story about mothers, out in 2018 in time for Mothers Day.
Do you have any suggestions on some ways parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers and readers can get more out of the book?
I feel there is great potential for further exploration of The Lion in our Living Room. We all know the importance of daily reading to young children, so my first wish is for this story to be enjoyed over and over again. The rhyming text develops phonic awareness and helps with word recognition for young readers. Adding to this, there are many possibilities for exploration around themes such as family, imagination, animal characteristics and rituals.
Can you tell us something not a lot of people know about you?
Which crazy story should I choose?
As a child, my love for all creatures was so profound and innocent, that I once brought a 'beautiful' snake into the kitchen to show my mum. 'Drop it!' she screamed. Which I did - right on the kitchen floor.
What got you into creating books?
I always loved poetry, however I was discouraged by the often-heard advice not to write in rhyme due to its complexity. After many years I decided that the only way I could fail was by not trying, so I finally made the plunge.
Do you have some tips for other creatives?
Read, write, work, learn, play, explore, try, fail, try again and love what you do.