3 question interview: Jonathan Emmett

Here is the third of our micro interviews with our Wolves and Apples guests. This time it’s the turn of picture book author Jonathan Emmett to answer three questions.

1. What was your favourite book when you were a child, and why?
I had lots, but the one I usually single out is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. As an adult I can appreciate that it’s beautifully illustrated with a deftly written text that reads wonderfully aloud, but as a four-year-old it was the sheer nightmarish scariness of the Wild Things, with their “terrible roars”, “terrible teeth”, “terrible eyes” and “terrible claws” that drew me in. Their wildness was in stark contrast to the tameness of most other picture book characters then and now. The book was criticised by parents and withheld from libraries for being “too dark” when it was first published, but that darkness is hugely appealing to many children.

2. What is your top writing tip?
Always try to finish what you start. You might not be happy with what you end up with, but you will gain useful experience for your next project.

3. What is the best thing about writing for children?
You’re writing for an open-minded audience that has no preconceptions or prejudices about what you should and should not do in a book. So, generally speaking, you can be more playful and creative when writing for children.
And, if you can write books that children will enjoy reading, you’ll be helping to give those children a head start in life. Research has shown that children that read for pleasure do better in maths, vocabulary and spelling than those who rarely read and consequently gain advantages that last their whole lives.

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