Monday, 18 August 2014

Author Interview: Claire Taylor-Smith! (Hattie B, Magical Vet Series)

I've recently read all four Hattie B, Magical Vet books published so far and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. It's a great new series for 7+ readers that is steeped in myth and fantasy, perfect for anyone not quite old enough for books like The Hobbit!

Thanks to the team behind Claire Taylor-Smith for answering my questions, and do check this series out if you can. It's lovely!


WR: Hi ladies, and thanks for answering my questions! Is ten-year-old Hattie based on a real person or does she exist only in your imagination?

CT-S: Hattie is based on Lindsay’s daughter Harriet who has always wanted and still wants to be a vet. She would play for hours with her soft toys being wrapped in toilet roll as bandages and sprinkled with talcum powder for fairy dust to make them all better. As she was horse mad, Harriet not only had soft toy horses, but unicorns and Pegasus too which led her to ask, ‘Where do poorly magical creatures go for help?’ We were so taken aback that we had a long hard think about the answer which was to become ‘a magical vet, of course!’

WR: What inspired the magical Kingdom of Bellua?

CT-S: We had to think of a magical land where Hattie could travel to treat the mythical creatures as we wanted this to be a secret that only Hattie would know about. Plenty of research went into the land and what would appeal to readers. For a name, we came up with Bellua as it is a Latin word for ‘beasts’ so we thought it was just perfect!

WR: Why did you decide to use fantasy creatures rather than real animals?

CT-S: We decided to use fantasy creatures following on from Harriet’s game as a child. We also wanted the stories to be different to any other story taking our readers on magical adventures and missions of their own.

WR: This series reminds me of a younger Chronicles of Narnia. Did you read any fantasy when you were Hattie's age?

CT-S: Suzanne – No I didn’t, my favourite author when I was Hattie’s age was Judy Blume, although if Hattie B was around then I would definitely have read them.

CT-S: Lindsay – I loved fantasy when I was young and the Chronicles of Narnia featured quite heavily in my reading pile. I also love Harry Potter as an adult. Children’s fantasy fiction is always so much more fun to read.

WR: Which book in the series has been your favourite to write so far?

CT-S: Suzanne- I love book 1 The Dragons Song as it introduces Hattie B to the reader and explains all about how she became the guardian of Bellua and meeting Mith Ickle for the first time. However, I also love book 6 (being published early 2015) as it concludes the first series and is full of drama and excitement.

CT-S: Lindsay – I love The Dragon’s Song as this captures the heart of Hattie B and how she became the guardian of Bellua. However, as you read through the series the more attached you become to the characters and the more exciting Hattie’s adventures develop. I agree with Suzanne, that book 6, The Phoenix’s Feather is brilliant as it makes my heart race revisiting all of the creatures helping Hattie in her quest to overcome King Ivar.

WR: Did you work closely with illustrator Lorena Alvarez in order to get the characters looking as they appear in your head?

CT-S: We, along with the team from Puffin Books worked very closely with Lorena. Lorena would create the images from our characters descriptions and we would all have our say into any changes necessary. Lorena has done an amazing job on getting Hattie, Bellua and all of the creatures just right!

WR: If you could meet a dragon, a unicorn, a fairy or a mermaid, which would you choose and why?

CT-S: Su- A dragon for me as I want my very own Mith Ickle to curl around my shoulders and keep me warm.

CT-S: Lindsay – It would have to be a unicorn. I love horses and seeing a majestic unicorn all colours of the rainbow would be just beautiful.

WR: How many books are planned in this series and what creatures can we expect to meet in 2015?

There are 6 books to complete series one, in early 2015 we will meet a tiny Pegasus and a Phoenix. The six books see Hattie B overcome evil King Ivar of the Imps with a little help from all of her new friends she makes in Bellua. We are very excited to see how this series progresses and deep in thought as to what could happen next in the magical kingdom. 

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