Today I am excited to have children's author Juliette Saumande on the blog! Juliette is the author of Chop, Chop Mad Cap an exciting new children's series which tells the story of Madgie Cappock (aka Mad Cap) and her best pal Norbert Soup who have created the Rent-a-Hero Agency! Enjoy the interview and then check out the giveaway where two winners can win a copy of Chop, Chop, Mad Cap and its international!
Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into writing?
I'm French but I've been living in Ireland for the past 7 years. I'm a bit obsessed with children's books as I write them, translate them (English into French), edit them and review them. I even studied them and received a Master's degree for it. As for getting into writing, it's more a case of never getting out of it. I wrote my first story in school when I was seven (I still have a copy somewhere!) and kept writing ever since. I didn't consider trying to get published until much later when I was working as an editor of children's non-fiction in a French publishing company. I wrote a story of an ogre with beard troubles for an illustrated collection and it was accepted. That was in 2004 and since then I've published nearly 30 picture books and illustrated stories in France. Mad Cap is my first novel in English.
Can you tell us a little about your book Chop-Chop, Mad Cap! ?Chop-Chop, Mad Cap! is a silly novel for 7+ which tackles serious issues such as disappearing butchers, fluffy rabbits and tap dancing. It tells the story of Madgie Cappock (aka Mad Cap) and her best pal Norbert Soup who have created the Rent-a-Hero Agency. Madgie has the superhero costume, so she does a lot of the actual heroics and sleuthing, while Norbert is an official genius and comes up with the plans. Except those plans go out the window when the two friends have a row and end up separately trying to solve the mysterious case of the disappeared butcher.
I love the cover of Chop-Chop, Mad Cap! Who designed it and what was your input into the designing of the cover?Thanks! It's a great cover, very punchy and full of quirky detail. It gives a good idea what the book is like. The artwork is by Sadie Cramer (http://sadiecramer.com/) and the design (including the deadly, hand-written font and the sticky-tape effect) is by Paul Woods (www.paulthedesigner.ie). The picture was taken from chapter one and magnified, and a few bits were added (notably the story's psycho-cat and the spuds of doom) to create a sense of total chaos and craziness. I didn't have much input into this process, but I was consulted and kept informed, which was great as in my experience authors often discover the cover of their book when it comes out of the printers.
A book has to have a great storyline but what is your opinion on illustrations and book covers? Do you think they have to be as appealing as the story inside?Getting a good illustrator when you write picture books is vital and so far I've been very lucky. For Mad Cap I was again lucky to get inside illustrations. I think it really works for the age group and for the general atmosphere of the book (all text might have seemed too serious). Getting the cover right is hugely important too, obviously, as it is what draws the potential reader to the book before even the title, never mind the storyline! An illustrated book is a complete experience and is received as such by the reader, so it's a pity when the text lets the pictures down or vice versa. Sadie's illustrations work really well because they are faithful to the story and its spirit, and because they also add things that are not in the text. They're quite detailed, too, and I think readers will enjoy exploring them as well as uncovering the plot.
In Chop-Chop, Mad Cap! Madgie M. Cappock, also known as Mad Cap is a young superhero. Who is one of your heroes in the writing industry?There's lots (lots!) of people I like and admire in the children's books world: writers, illustrators, publishers and organisations (such as the brilliant Children's Books Ireland). But if I have to pick only one, I'll go for Tove Jansson, the creator of the legendary Moomins. Her books are amazing, so funny and strange and wise and respectful of the reader's intelligence. That's what I want to do when I grow up!
Chop-Chop, Mad Cap!, is the first in a series of books, what other crime fighting scenarios can we expect in the upcoming books?
In no particular order, you should be ready for: an evil master plan to control global warming; a wedding; a chicken pox epidemic; blazing origami raindeer; internet-dating grannies; an evil master plan to make Mad Cap wear a bridesmaid dress; and mushy-pea icecream.
Chop-Chop, Mad Cap! is available in all Irish bookshops, on the publisher's website (http://littleisland.ie/books/7-years/chop-chop-mad-cap/9781908195210), & on Amazon.
You can follow the author at www.juliettesaumande.blogspot.com, on Facebook, and my French website (www.juliettesaumande.com) has a page in English (http://www.juliettesaumande.com/?page_id=274).
Here is an excerpt from Chop, Chop Mad Cap by Juliette Saumande:
‘What’s that thing doing here?’ asked Madgie, pointing at the mousetrap. ‘Surely Scrum can do that job. Or is he too fat and lazy?’
This last bit she whispered, seeing the huge cat emerging from under the bed. Scrum rubbed against her legs, nearly sending her sprawling, and thumped his way out of the room, making Norbert’s paperclip collection rattle in its jam jar.
Norbert picked up the mousetrap.
‘This,’ he announced ‘is … well, will soon be … a Morse transmitter.’
‘Morse?’ Mad Cap repeated. ‘I know him. The guy from the telly. Mum’s soft on him, but Dad says it’s all fanciful gobbledegook and real inspectors don’t have time for crosswords.’
Norbert rolled his eyes.
that Morse, you big eejit! This one,’ he
said, producing a sheet full of dots and lines.
‘Well,’ replied Madgie, a bit huffily, ‘I don’t think real inspectors have time for join the dots either!’
Wisely, Norbert said nothing. Instead, he took a metal skewer and crawled under his desk. Mad Cap followed. They were a bit cramped down there, but she didn’t mind. They were pals again.
‘Listen,’ called Norbert as he banged the skewer three times, very quickly, on the pipe that ran along the wall.
He shoved the paper into Madgie’s hands and said: ‘Three short signals. Like dots. That’s an S. See it on the chart?’
Mad Cap’s eyes brightened.
Norbert gave three more beats with his skewer, but this time they were further apart.
‘We’ll call that three long. Like the dashes,’ he said. ‘So what’s that?’
Madgie scanned the sheet.
‘O!’ she cried. ‘Hang on!’
She took the metal stick from her friend’s
hand and whacked it three times, like he had done in the first place.
‘SOS!’ she shouted, delighted with herself. ‘How cool is that?’
It was Norbert’s turn to be a bit peeved. He was supposed to be the mastermind here. It was
his idea and his bedroom and his skewer. He went to grab the stick again –
And that’s when it happened.
They got a reply.
At first, Norbert thought Madgie was still playing with the skewer, but she was peering at the chart, working out how to Morse code ‘muffin’. She looked up, curious.
‘Do it again, Nor. I didn’t catch …’
She stopped. The boy had turned yellow. Just like the rabbit.
‘Shhh!’ he hissed.
There it was again. Norbert snatched the paper away from Mad Cap. That didn’t make sense! He screwed up his eyes and listened.
_ . _ .. ._.. ._..
He checked it again. No, he had been right
the first time. Madgie glanced at the chart over his shoulder.
‘K,’ she deciphered ‘I-L-L. K-I-L-L? Kill what?’ She checked her chart again. ‘It’s too long, I lost it. Was it "kill the rats"?’
‘Not the rats,’ Norbert answered darkly. ‘The brats. It says "kill the brats".’
Mad Cap gulped. And then she flared into a rage.
‘Oh yeah? Kill the brats? Well, here’s what the brats have to say to that!’
She picked up the skewer again and thrashed the pipe with it like a mad hard-rock drummer. The more she banged, the more urgent the menacing message came. Faster and faster, louder and louder. Madgie was laughing now, as much from relief as anything. Norbert joined in and the din became fantastic.
Until it all ended in a long, horrifying yell that seemed to come out of the pipe.
The two friends stopped dead. They stared at each other. And made a run for it.
Scrambling out from under the desk was hard work. They were in each other’s way and
the skewer seemed to be poking at them of its own accord. Then they were out on the carpet, running to the door, fumbling with the knob and pushing like sumo wrestlers against the thick wooden panel.
But it wouldn’t budge. Norbert threw himself on the floor and tried to see what was blocking it. He caught a glimpse of unruly ginger hair and enormous claws. Scrum. That fat door-stopper of a cat. The mini-elephant.
‘We’re trapped!’ he yelled in panic.
Like the sound of this? Well you can win a copy thanks to Little Island publishers. I have two copies up for grabs, so that means two winners and its international, just fill in the rafflecopter below!
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