Anna Branford – Interview with CKT

Anna Branford

Q. What was your favourite book when you were little?

When I was very little my absolute favourite book was The Very Hungry Caterpillar  by Eric Carle. When I was a bit older I especially liked a book called The Travelling Tooth,  by Ann Thwaite, because it was about a girl whose family moved around to different countries like mine did.

Q. How did you think of Violet Mackerel?

I first thought of her when I was working at a market very early in the morning selling the dolls I make. The market was out in the country, so my friend and I used to drive out there in the dark. While we were setting up our stalls I watched families setting up theirs and I tried to imagine what it was like for the children, sometimes helping, sometimes wrapped in blankets and drinking hot chocolate and watching the sunrise. That was when Violet and her family began to grow in my mind.

Q. Will there be more adventures with Violet Mackerel?

Definitely! The newest adventure is called Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend  and its about a new neighbor called Rose. Violet likes her very much but also feels a bit shy of her. I hope there will be lots more Violet adventures!

Q. If you could be any character from any book for a day who would it be and why? (I got this question from Mum)

I think perhaps I would be Mole from Wind in the Willows  and I would spend my day in his home, Mole End, just looking around. I love the descriptions Kenneth Graham gives of the goldfish pond with the cockleshell border, the Italian statues and the ‘large silvered glass ball that reflected everything all wrong and had a very pleasing effect’. That said, I have always wanted a peek up Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree…

Q. Apart from the Violet Mackerel series you have also written Neville No-Phone and Sophie’s Salon. Which one did you enjoy writing the most?

One of the funny things about writing books is that whichever one you’re working on always seems like the best and the one you’ve enjoyed writing the most! I think I laughed most while writing Neville No-Phone.  I felt most excited writing Sophie’s Salon  (because that was my first book). But with each new Violet story I have a nice feeling that I am among some very special people and getting to know them better and better all the time. So I don’t think I can choose because I enjoy them all in such different ways.

Q. Where is your favourite place to go and why is it your favourite place?

My favourite places are nearly always places where people make things, like markets and studios and shops with people behind counters who are knitting and stitching while they chat to you. It feels as though the inspiration is sort of catching. Also, I especially like places with trees and bell birds. So I’m going to say Ceres, which is a sort of park near my house with a river and vegetable gardens with chickens and a café and a small, lovely market on Saturday mornings.

Q. How old were you when you when you wanted to be an author?

I don’t remember a time when writing books wouldn’t have been a dream come true. When I was about five or six there was a nine-year-old girl in England called Jayne Fisher who wrote and illustrated books that we had in our school library. They were stories about fruits and vegetables with names and personalities and they were called the Garden Gang. I can’t tell you how much I wished and wished that I was Jayne Fisher!

Q. What’s the best letter/email you have received from a girl or boy about your books?

Of all the tricky questions you have asked me, this is the trickiest. I love every single letter and email that I receive and I keep them in a folder to look at if I ever feel gloomy or uninspired, to cheer me up in less than a second. It makes my day when a young reader takes the time to write or draw something for me and figure out where to send it. I couldn’t possibly choose between the beautiful notes and pictures I’ve received.

Q. What is the best writing tip you’ve been given?

My lovely editor at Walker Books AustraliaSue Whiting, sometimes says to me, “make trouble”. It doesn’t come very easily to me because I especially like Violet and her family and would really love them just to go on nice holidays, spend lots of time making beautiful things and have incredibly good luck all the time! Ideally, they would never have any trouble at all. But that doesn’t make for good stories. It is an excellent and helpful tip, I think.

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