July 28, 2012


Eva Katzler, author of “Florentine and Pig Have a Very Lovely Picnic”

Interview by Hereward L.M. Proops

Booksquawk: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to create "Florentine and Pig".

Eva Katzler: I grew up baking with my mum, fighting bears with my brother and making things with my dad. My childhood was packed full of silliness, fun, adventure and safeness and I have wanted to create something which flies the flag for old-skool childhood and play for a very long time. I went to LIPA, (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts) and I very early on met a dancer called Florentine. She became a wonderful friend who had a cheeky sense of humour and the kindest of hearts - the character Florentine was certainly inspired by her, while Pig’s loyal, fun and silly characteristics are based on a combination of many of my friends and family – me included! 

B: Who are your favourite authors? How have they inspired you to become a children's author?

EK: When I was small I loved Enid Blyton, Jill Murphy and Shirley Hughes... I was certainly inspired by them as they all created exciting and imaginary worlds for me to leap into and be safe in... that is certainly something that I hope to achieve with Florentine and Pig.

B: Do you have a particular routine for writing?

EK: Nope!

B: Pen and paper or computer?

EK: Computer. But I have a million scribbly notebooks in my bag.

B: There is a wealth of creative talent that has gone into the book. How did you come to work with Jess Mikhail and Laura and Jess Tilli?

EK: I found Jess Mikhail's work on a blog I was reading. I whooped with joy, dropped her an email and the rest is history! I have known Laura and Jess Tilli for many years - we all studied together at LIPA and I've been waiting for the right project for us all to work on together. They are made for Florentine and Pig!

B: How does a book like this come together? Do you brainstorm the ideas as a group first or do you write the story independently before presenting it to the others?

EK: I come up with the story idea and then discuss it with Jess Mikhail. She often has ideas immediately about how she sees the illustrations coming together and then I in turn become inspired by that... I will bear her ideas in mind when I write my first draft. Once the final draft has been done it gets whizzed over to her and she begins to weave her magic! Laura and Jess work more with the overall theme of the story and come up with all the crafts and recipes to compliment the story and make the book even more exciting and interactive for the children reading it.

B: What are your plans for "Florentine and Pig" in the future? Can you see yourself branching out into other avenues? I can totally see the "Florentine and Pig" story / recipe / activity format working as a children's television programme.

EK: That would be wonderful, wouldn't it! I can tell you that there's lots going on in the pipeline but it's a bit top secret. Watch this space! 

B: The world of "Florentine and Pig" is unbelievably nice and lovely. Was this a conscious decision or are you just one of those sickeningly pleasant people? Be honest... Come on, for our more misanthropic Booksquawkers out there, what's your worst habit?

EK: The world of Florentine and Pig is exactly as it should be. I want children to see the characters, jump into the world and feel calm, happy and safe. As a child should feel. I on the other hand, am messy, I kill plants and I burn toast. But I do make excellent tea and I ALWAYS have biscuits.

B: On the subject of biscuits, what's your favourite?

EK: Hobnobs. Or jaffacakes. Or Rich Tea. Or Gingernut. I do like biscuits.

B: Where do you stand on Jammie Dodgers? Have you tried Toffee Dodgers? What about Chocolate Dodgers? They're basically just glorified Bourbon biscuits.

EK: I love jammie dodgers. I have not tried any other dodger. I do not intend to. 

B: If a cake and a biscuit got into a fight, who would win?

EK: Depends on the cake. Nothing would get past my grandma's apple cake. Nothing.

Read the Booksquawk review here.

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