Recently, I got the chance to interview Sophie Anderson, the author of The House with Chicken Legs. The amazing Kimi at Waterstones Deansgate gave me this opportunity and I am so grateful. This is the third of a few question times that will be coming soon! My first was with Alice Oseman that you can find here. The second was with Akemi Dawn Bowman, you can find that here. I had a nightmare when it came to getting this post out. When I came to transcribe the audio file for the blog post I couldn’t find it on my phone. My new phone managed to get rid of the file! Sophie came to the rescue and very kindly answered the questions again.
Let’s get on with the questions!
L = Lois
S = Sophie
L: How would you describe The House with Chicken Legs to people who have never heard of it before?
S: The House with Chicken Legs is the story of twelve-year-old Marinka, who dreams of a normal life where her house stays in one place long enough for her to make friends. But Marinka’s house has chicken legs and moves around without warning.
Marinka spends every night helping her grandmother, Baba Yaga, guide the dead from this world to the next. She longs to change her destiny and break free from her grandmother’s footsteps but unfortunately her house has other ideas …
L: What inspired you to write The House with Chicken Legs?
S: The House with Chicken Legs was inspired by the Eastern European fairy tales my grandmother told me when I was young. Many of the stories featured Baba Yaga, who terrified and fascinated me in equal measure. Baba Yaga could be incredibly cruel, attempting to eat visitors to her hut on hen’s legs, but she could also be kind and compassionate, giving visitors advice or magical objects. I always wondered how Baba Yaga could be both villain and helper, and this wondering grew into a new story!
L: Where do you like to write?
S: I write anywhere and everywhere! Most commonly in the corner of my living room at home, but I always carry a pen and notebook to scribble down snippets of stories as they come to me.
L: What was it like to have The House with Chicken Legs published and how was your publishing journey?
S: My publishing journey has been a whirlwind of wonderfulness! Through it, I have met some of the kindest, wisest, and most talented and passionate people in the world; including my agent Gemma Cooper, my editors at Usborne Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker, constellations of literary stars, fellow authors, teachers, librarians, book bloggers and readers. It is truly a magical feeling to connect with so many people through the power of imagination!
L: Are you working on anything currently?
S: Edits for my next book, due to be published in Autumn 2019.
L: What is your writing process like? Do you plan or just dive into writing and see what happens?
S: I dive in and see what happens, although sometimes I have to surface to look for the best route forwards!
L: Do you listen to music whilst writing? If so, what kind of music do you listen to?
S: I prefer quiet when I’m writing, but I do listen to music for inspiration – most commonly Russian folk music.
L: What is/are your favourite book/books you have read in 2018?
S: The Wild Folk by Sylvia Linsteadt is both thrilling tale and song to the natural world, and will resonate with wild, adventurous souls everywhere. I also loved Child I by Steve Tasane; a moving and insightful glimpse into the lives of undocumented, unaccompanied children as they try to have some kind of childhood in a refugee camp.
I also have to mention my favourite picture book of the year; The New Neighbours by Sarah McIntyre. It is such a gorgeous book and fun story with a highly relevant and important message about the foolishness of stereotypes and prejudice.
L: What other books would you recommend to fans of The House with Chicken Legs?
S: For readers who love fairy tale reimaginings, Hilary McKay’s Fairy Tales illustrated by Sarah Gibb, and The Thirteen Treasures trilogy by Michelle Harrison; and for YA readers The Surface Breaks by Louise O’ Neill and Finding Baba Yaga by Jane Yolen. For readers interested in the theme of death tackled in interesting and original ways, Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
L: Was The House with Chicken Legs your first book or have you written anything previously that wasn’t published?
S: I have five unpublished books! Rarely do we get things right first time and writing each of those books was an important learning experience. I don’t mind at all that they aren’t published as I believe they have served their purpose in helping me develop on my writing journey.
L: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers who are struggling to come up with an idea or get their first break in the publishing world?
S: Inspiration is everywhere! Read and read and read some more, listen to music, visit art galleries, people watch. Don’t be afraid to reimagine and play with old tales. Keep writing and enjoying the creative process. Breaking into the publishing world can take time, and a great deal of patience and perseverance. It is important to stay positive and have fun along the way!
L: What is your “desert island” book?
S: An omnibus edition of all Tove Jansson’s Moomins books.
L: What other authors inspire you?
S: David Almond, Katherine Rundell, Tove Jansson, James Mayhew, just to name a few!
L: Hardbacks, paperbacks or E-books?
L: What is your drink of choice whilst reading or writing?
S: Hot chocolate
L: Hogwarts house?
L: Morning or night?
L: Favourite superhero?
S: Wonder woman
L: Thank you!
Look out for the other interviews coming on my blog soon!
Be sure to check out Book Depository using my link here: Loisreadsbooks
Until next time,