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Elevenses with… Sophy Henn!

This morning, Banjo is thrilled to be sharing a pot of tea and a Bakewell tart with the marvellous Sophy Henn!

Sophy has written and illustrated heaps of brilliant books including the Bad Nana series, the Pom Pom books and Lifesize.

Hi Sophy! What is the first thing you remember writing?

Ooh that’s tricky, I remember making the world’s smallest postcard (not actually confirmed but I was confident at the time) for my mum which had a bit of writing on it, but was mainly picture to be fair. Recently my dad sent me a letter I had sent him from Brownie Camp about 5 million years ago. He just wrote ‘Happy Days’ on the envelope and when I read the letter I was crying with laughter as it was basically a rather long list of all the things that had gone wrong on camp. So far!

As far as creative writing goes, I do remember getting a very snazzy clipboard one Christmas (stationery is ALWAYS a welcome present) and decided that as a massive Miss Marple fan I would write my first Whodunnit using my new clipboard. Unfortunately, I felt I needed to set up all the characters and the motive on the first side of A4 so it made for a rather jam-packed and slightly confusing book opening! I am afraid I didn’t get round to finishing it but (spoilers) the Vicar did it!

What location from a story would you like to visit?

Willy Wonka’s Factory. As a lover of sweets and chocolate I don’t think I need to explain any that further!!!

Which character from a book would you like to meet in person?

Oh, there are SO many I would love to meet. Hmmm, Pippi Longstocking would be great to meet and hang out with, who knows what sort of adventures we would get up to? Maybe we would even have our elevenses in the big tree and of course I would love to meet her monkey, Mr Nilssen. 

From whom would you most like to receive a letter?

Oh, how to choose…I would love a letter from Maurice Sendak because he was a storytelling master and I would love to receive some top tips from him. Also, I heard a wonderful story about a young boy who received a reply to a fan letter he sent to Sendak. The letter from Sendak was  covered in beautiful illustrations and the boy loved it so much he ate it! Every last scrap! His mother wrote to tell Sendak who was reportedly thrilled by this! I would love to see if I felt the urge to eat my letter too!

BUT I would also love a letter from Charles M Schultz, who created the Peanuts comic strips which I have adored my whole life (a VERY long time). I love the gentle humour in all the strips and I love all the characters but I particularly like Charlie Brown, his woeful demeanour combined with occasional flashes of misplaced optimism make him one of the most endearing characters ever. So, an illustrated letter from him would be a wonder!

Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Finish what you are writing! I know that sounds very obvious and a bit cheeky after the story of my Whodunnit, but seeing something through to the end, even when you think it’s all going wrong, is a very important part of writing. Very often I will be halfway through a book and think I cannot possibly, EVER get to the end of the story. But by putting one word after the other, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter I always get there.

Stories can be tricky, you sometimes get them in slightly the wrong order first try, sometimes they need unpicking like a big ball of string, and it would be ever so easy to give up (see Whodunnit!). But do keep going and once it’s all written down then the fun begins again when you get to tidy it all up, maybe reshuffle it a bit and then share it with others. 

What is your next book about?

It’s about a reluctant superhero called Pizazz. It’s an illustrated fiction book with added comic strips and I have had a lot of fun writing and illustrating it. Pizazz comes from a family of superheroes (that’s usually how it works apparently) and while they all whizz off happily saving the world, Pizazz isn’t actually quite so keen. I mean, she has to wear the same superhero costume ALL THE TIME (including a very annoying, very long cape), she’s always getting called away for missions in the middle of things and she also has the MOST EMBARRASSING super power EVER! *eyeroll* On top of all of that, Pizazz has to start a new school which is tricky enough normally, but when you are a superhero with your name plastered all over the back of your cape it can be even harder!

What is the silliest word you can think of?

Kerfuffle. I LOVE it.

Thanks so much, Sophy. It was such a pleasure to meet you! 

Sophy’s book Pizazz is out on 6 August.

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