How did you come up with the idea for Battle Mum?
I think a lot of parents and carers probably feel guilty for knocking back an overexcited child that wants to engage them in imaginative play at a time when they really don’t have the energy or are distracted with work, cooking etc. I certainly do. So, I imagined a world where the roles were reversed… the mum is desperate to play, and the kids are not.
What’s your best play-battle move?
I can’t help slipping into Karate Kid moves. It’s basic and I should do better.
Have your kids read Battle Mum yet? If so, what do they think of it?
To my utter delight, they have requested it a few nights in a row, without my leading the witness or placing it conveniently on to their bedside. My son, who is both the inspiration and the one most likely to sue me for plagiarism, loves all the games, names and moves in the book… since he invented most of them in the first place.
All of your picture books include some element of humour. How do you channel that in your writing?
It’s a huge privilege to get a laugh. Fiction, even in picture book form, teaches kids about the world, how to empathise, how to respect others and themselves and deal with life events. It also encourages them to imagine and play and believe. But I’m primarily here to make them giggle.
I may subconsciously or subtly try to encourage kids to think about the world from a different perspective, but that’s secondary to making an entertaining story. As a kid, I loved Roald Dahl and Morris Gleitzman and Coles’ Funny Picture books – and as a parent buying books, I still do because laughter wins for me. (I also aim to make it enjoyable for the parent/carer. After all, they’re the ones who will have to read it aloud 200 times.)
Do you keep a daily journal or have a regular writing practice?
No journal. But writing infuses everything I do, even within my skincare business. Everything is copy! I get so much joy from writing every day, whether it’s emails, articles on Medium, Instagram captions, marketing material, or novels and picture books. Writing permits me to be playful in areas that have no right to be.