A guest post from Holly Webb

Holly Webb

Holly Webb

Holly Webb is one of the UK’s best loved authors when it comes to primary school aged kids. This month sees the release of The Secret Kitten, the 30th story in her ever-popular Animal Stories series and to celebrate this amazing milestone, we asked Holly about how she keeps her stories fresh and interesting for her readers. Does she have a formula that just ‘works’? What’s her secret to writing a series with such longevity?

Here’s what Holly had to say:

“It’s quite difficult to write this post. Thirty books in the Animal Stories has just crept up on me. It was certainly never intended. I discussed the idea of a lost kitten story with Jane Harris, Associate Publisher at Stripes, back in (scarily) 2006, and we vaguely thought that if the first book worked well, there could be a kitten story, a puppy, and perhaps a rabbit? Maybe even a lost duckling? Thirty books later (thirty-two, actually, I’ve just finished the latest book) and I’ve never got as far as the rabbit…

I’ve been lucky that over time I’ve owned two dogs and six cats, all of whom have done their best to embarrass me with their awful behaviour but have been fabulous at providing me with plots. From the singing dachshund to various over-adventurous tabbies. I also have a brilliant editorial team who are great at brainstorming ideas. It’s actually been more of a problem running out of sweet-looking and relatively well-known breeds of dog, I think.

Funnily enough, the success of the series has actually made things easier. Now that I’m doing more events, I’m lucky enough to have fabulous plot ideas suggested by children (and parents). The Missing Kitten was inspired by a very helpful small boy who told me about his mum’s cat who used to follow her to school. And The Forgotten Puppy was based on the brilliant story told by the dad of two little girls at an event, who told me that he’d rescued a dog who walked on to a train and ended up at Twyford Station. It was made for a book!

Obviously it isn’t only the plots that need to stay fresh, though. The characters and their feelings have to as well. I think writing the books from two points of view – the child character and the animal character – really helps here. Obviously so much of the animal character has to be completely imaginary that I don’t find it hard to write. A lot of it is wishful thinking – that I would really love to know what my cats are trying to say. More food, probably…”

30 Days logo

So if you ever are lucky enough to meet Holly at an author event, don’t hesitate in sharing your ideas for future stories! You never know – your idea might be just the spark Holly is looking for!

This guest post was provided by Holly Webb. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups.

Comments are closed.