Author Q and A with Jodie Parachini
- What inspired you to write children’s books?
Even though I’ve been writing children’s books for more than 15 years, I’m still surprised every day that I became a writer. I found writing hard as a student—essays and reports were stressful!—but once the act of writing was stripped of its academic necessity and reduced to creative expression, I started to enjoy it.
After I graduated, I felt compelled to write in an angst-ridden, soul-plumbing, adultish manner that was a residual hangover from my English degree. When I had children and began writing for them, I found that writing became pure joy. So, I stuck with children’s books, because who doesn’t want more pure joy in their life?
I’m also fascinated about the idea of being “in the zone.” Artists, athletes, musicians all aim for that moment when the dopamine or serotonin kicks in and the world around you disappears. In a sense, I’m always striving for that feeling of calm transcendence that for me comes from being creative, and I tend to get that feeling a lot when I’m writing for kids.
2. What was your favourite book as a child?
My read-under-the-bedsheets-until-mum-yelled-at-me-to-put-the-torch-away books of childhood were Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. I memorised his poems, copied them out, and when I was old enough (10 or so), wrote and illustrated my own and sent them to Mr Silverstein for him to “include” in his next book.
Now that I have kids of my own, I find it fascinating to be raising them in Britain, where very few of my American favourites are known and loved. Happily, it has allowed me to learn about a whole host of British classics that I never knew, such as Zagazoo by Quentin Blake and The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr.
- Which children’s authors inspire you if any?
Actually, I would have loved to have been a children’s book illustrator so I am constantly inspired by illustrators who can translate words into art. I, sadly, never made it past the stick-figure stage of art, but I am always amazed and enthralled by illustrators who can elevate picture books into works of art.
Right now, I’m loving cut-paper collage artists like Melissa Sweet and Bryony Clarkson (and of course the former rock stars Lois Ehlert and Eric Carle).
Somedays, I love sparse yet dynamic images made by designers such as Chris Haughton, and on others I want a riot of colour and emotion, such as the works of Teresa Bellón, Britta Teckentrup, and Dan Sandat.
- What’s your favourite childhood memory?
The absolute, unadulterated joy of going to a tiny shop near the beach and returning to the sandy shore laden with buckets, bouncy balls, kites, and a sweetie or two. What could be better?
5. What do you most enjoy about knowing you are helping a young person enjoy books?
I think writing for kids is like giving them the most wonderful gift in the world. Sharing a book with a child—and watching their eyes light up, their senses heightened, their focus concentrated, and their creative mind sparked—has to be one of my highlights of parenthood. So, by extension, I’m hoping that other families and teachers get to experience more of this through my writing.
Dig It, Digby!
Although Digby enjoys building cities with his fellow trucks, he also loves to twirl and groove. Being true to both aspects of his personality will really shake things up at the construction site. The foreman may be gruff and scary, but dancing trucks can really get the job done!
DIG IT, DIGBY! targets all fans of truck/construction books, yet also pushes the boundaries of the typical ‘boy’ book genre. By incorporating dance, it challenges gender roles using nonhuman characters that all children can relate to. Told in joyous rhyme, DIG IT, DIGBY! is 360 words and has the lyricism of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and the stereotype-breaking ethos of Giraffes Can’t Dance.
Author Bio –
SHORT: Jodie Parachini is a children’s author and editor. She lives in a village in Hertfordshire, England, where she loves swimming, gardening, and taking long, rambling hikes with a smelly dog. She can be found at www.JodieParachini.com
Social Media Links –
TWITTER: @JODIEPARACHINI https://twitter.com/JodieParachini
INSTA: @JODIEPARACHINI https://www.instagram.com/jodieparachini/