Wednesday, May 31, 2017

North Melbourne Books June Newsletter - featuring Lissa Evans

In the June edition of the North Melbourne Books newsletter we talk to English author Lissa Evans about her hilarious new book for children, Wed Wabbit.

When 10-year-old Fidge finds herself magically transported to Wimbley Land, the fictional homeland of the Wimbley Woos, she fears that she may never get back to the real world. Surreal and nonsensical, Wed Wabbit is the funniest kids' book you'll read this year - for adults and children alike.

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North Melbourne Books talks to Lissa Evans

North Melbourne Books: When 10-year-old Fidge finds herself inexplicably transported to Wimbley Land, the fictional homeland of the Wimbley Woos, she fears that she may never get back to the real world. Worse still, Wimbley Land is in turmoil: its Wimbley king has been deposed and a horrid plush toy dictator has taken over. The plot is quite topsy-turvy and reads like a spoof on young children's books. Where did the idea for the story come from?

Lissa Evans: I can usually work out where my ideas come from but Wed Wabbit and the Land of Wimbly Woo seemed to have arrived out of nowhere, fully formed!  The nearest I can get is the memory of reading a particular picture book to my children - one with a seemingly endless, repetitive story line  which (inevitably) my children LOVED  but which drove me mad. I used to make it bearable for myself by putting on different funny voices for each character...

NMB: Each colored cohort of Wimbley Woos has a particular characteristic. Blues are strong, yellows are timid, purples understand the past and future, pinks give cuddles, oranges are silly and get in muddles, greens are daring and greys are wise and rarely wrong. If you were a Wimbley Woo, what colour would you be?

LE: I like to think I'm a mixture of grey (wise and rarely wrong) with a touch of Pink (cuddles) but my children probably think I'm a Green (shouts a lot).

NMB: The story is hilariously funny. It's the sort of book that adults can read and enjoy as much - if not more - than the kids. What was the writing experience like? Was it fun writing all those madcap scenes and situations?

LE: I love books that make me laugh and  I was a producer/director in radio and television comedy which means that I know the amount of work that it takes to make a funny line  work.  I particularly like writing funny dialogue, and I tend to read the lines out loud to myself, in order to get the emphasis and rhythm of them exactly right.  It sometimes takes a while to get there, but there's no better feeling than knowing that you've come up with a great punchline...!

NMB: Wed Wabbit has the feel of children's classics like The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland in its surreal and nonsensical style. What are some of your favourite children's books?

LE: I absolutely loved The Wizard of Oz, and I also particularly loved books in which magic intruded into 'real' life.    Alan Garner's Weirdstone of Brisingamen was a favourite, as well as Jane Langton's The Diamond in the Window, which I must have read at least twenty times.  I also loved funny books, especially the 'Uncle' books by JP Martin - timeless, ludicrous, endlessly inventive stories about an elephant who owns his own castle and constantly battles with his disreputable neighbours.

NMB: What books are you enjoying reading at the moment?

LE: I've just finished Reservoir 13 by John McGregor, which I loved - an extraordinary, detailed, fascinating examination of time and change.  I've also read Ted Chiang's book of sci-fi short stories, The Story of your Life from which the film of Arrival was adapted.  They are MARVELLOUS!

Wed Wabbit, by Lissa Evans. Published by David Fickling. RRP: $19.99