Before Natalie decided to use Zak’s umbrella to go on her own adventure, I nabbed her for a chat to find out why she chose to write a children’s book! Here’s what she said:
TWG: What made you decide to write a children’s book instead of an adults?
I love reading to my daughter, which is probably what inspired me most to write children’s
literature. I also have a niece, nephew and two godsons so there are a lot of wonderful children in my life! I love the freedom of writing for children, you can allow your
imagination to wander completely off the grid and it doesn’t matter. I remember how I
used to feel reading when I was growing up, that sense of awe and excitement. Being so
eager to see what happened next that I didn’t want to go to bed until the book was
finished. I would love to inspire that feeling in others.
TWG: Did you have any inspiration behind your debut book?
The debut book was the result of fantastic source material. Chris had been an artist for
some time and often painted these slightly unique characters against beautiful night sky
backdrops. One day I called him and asked if I could write a story about them. I talked him
through some of my ideas and then sent him a first draft, thankfully he was completely on
board! The paintings already had quite an art following and so many people seemed to
love the idea of them being a children’s series.
TWG: Did you set out for the book to have a hidden message in it, or is that just me finding one?
Depends on what you think the message was! What has been so nice is watching how
other people and their children interpret the book. There is an obvious message about
appreciating what you have, and also the fact that you have the power to change things if
you are unhappy. However those that have read it so far have found strong messages
about preserving the environment, and accepting people for who they are and not what
they look like. The characters don’t have a traditional children’s literature look and feel
and I think that is one of the key things that makes this book unique.
TWG: Is your plan to continue writing children’s books or do you think you will write an adult’s book later on?
Interestingly the first book I finished was a Young Adult novel which I am still trying to edit (amidst everything else!). Because it is YA, the subject matter is much darker and grittier, and I was keen to have a very strong female lead character. However, I love writing books for young children, it is so wonderful to see the enjoyment they get from them. As for adult fiction, I am not against writing for adults at all! Although, I tend to follow my
inspiration when it comes to writing, if I come up with a great idea for an adult book I will
definitely do what I can to write it!
TWG: What was your favourite book when you were a child?
I was an avid reader as a child so I had lots of favourite books. However, when I was very
young my favourite, without question, was the Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton. I loved
being able to escape into a world of pure magic. Generally that is what I love most about
reading and writing, the escapism.
TWG: Did your experiences of reading as a child, influence your book writing now?
Absolutely. If I hadn’t been such a bookworm as a child, I would never have enjoyed
writing so much as a child and I doubt I would enjoy it as much now. Being able to write
stories takes me back to when I was a young and the way writing made me feel then.
TWG: If you had your own planet like Jen and Zak, what would you have on it, or what would your view be?
That is a tough one! I would want so many things! One of my greatest loves (and places of
inspiration) is sitting and looking at the ocean. It is one of the few places that I feel totally
at peace. I once saw a picture of a beach somewhere in the world where the water had
florescent plankton in it, so at night the water glowed and sparkled. I imagine my ocean
would look a bit like that. I also adore flowers and trees. Cherry blossom is one of my
favourites, which is why it appears in the book. However, I also love peonies and magnolia
trees (especially the purple ones). Overall, I think I would have a sparkling ocean with a
white sandy beach and then hundreds of flowers and blossom trees – maybe some with
unusually coloured flowers, like gold!
TWG: If you could choose any fantasy land or world from another children’s book, to disappear into yourself, which one would it be, and why?
Again, another great question – especially for a lover of fantasy fiction like me. I think it
would probably be Narnia (although Fantasia from the Neverending Story would be a
close second). I grew up reading the Narnia series and quite honestly, I always thought it
would be amazing to live at castle Cair Paravel! Oh, and who wouldn’t want to hang out
TWG: I know you have plans for a second book, but what’s in store for you after that? What can we look forward to?
We have lots of exciting things that we are exploring for this first book, as well as working
on plans for a second and third book! I can’t reveal too much right now, but it seems that
people are very anxious to see more of these characters so we are looking at innovative
ways we can do that!
How exciting! That’s another person that enjoyed The Magic Faraway tree as a child, although I am yet to find someone that still reads it as an adult…except me of course! Big thank you to Natalie for stopping by for a chat, and a huge congratulations to Natalie & Chris for such a wonderful book.
I was lucky enough to get a copy of the book before it was released, here’s what I thought about it: TWG is going on an adventure to ‘The Petal Planet’ with Zak & Jen!
If you wish to buy your own copy of this magical book, follow this link right here: Buy Zak & Jen from Amazon
I cannot wait to see more from Zak & Jen and what they get up to next!