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Capture the Flag
Kate Messner


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Check out the Sweet on Books Interview with

Hilary McKay

Author of Lulu and the Duck in the Park, Lulu and the Dog from the Sea
and many other entertaining children's books!

What’s next for Lulu? Do you have a long-term plan for her?
There are four more Lulu books to come out in the US (I hope!) and I have another two to write before this summer.

What message do you hope that Lulu will deliver to readers?
Well, I hope she will make them laugh. And perhaps they will also see their pets in a new light.

What do you think it is that makes Lulu so universally appealing?
I'm glad to hear she is universally appealing! Priscilla Lamont's lovely illustrations help! I think also that part of Lulu's charm is that she is so hopeful. She tries to make things better. And she is funny and kind and brave and perhaps she does not always make the right decisions, but her intentions are always good. I am very fond of her myself.

How does your background in Zoology and Botany influence your writing?
Natural history has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Zoology and Botany were just an extension of that. It is the Natural history, the awareness of other lives and environments, and the beauty and vulnerability of the world that gets into my books, I suppose. Not surprising, because it is a part of me.

Of all the characters that you have developed, do you have a favorite?
No! That would be as bad as having a favourite child!

Are any of the characters in your books inspired by real people?
No, but sometimes they are helped by the things real people say and do.

What made you want to be a writer?
I loved books. I wanted to join in the game!

Do you do any research?
Yes, I do research. Inaccurate facts in books (fiction or non fiction) used to destroy the magic for me when I was a child. So I make sure that as far as possible, there are none in mine.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Anywhere quiet, as long as it has a view out. I have discovered that I'm not very good at it when facing a wall. I'm not fussy about time of day!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read! As wide a range as possible. Fiction, non fiction, poetry. And look to other centuries as well as your own.

What would you be if you weren't a writer?
I can't imagine.

If you could have lunch with any writer whom would you choose? Why?
I would choose James Thurber and I would get him talking about dogs.


Read or write?    Read

Call or text?    Depends to whom

Fly or drive?    Fly, if I would actually be allowed the controls.

Beach or ski?    Neither! Not keen on sand, skiing needs too much Stuff! I will have a nice breezy cliffpath, or a boat on a lake, or picnic rug under a tree in the New Forest, thank you.

Time travel back or time travel forward?    Back

E-book or traditional book?    Traditional, the sort you can leave on a train or drop in the bath without tears.


Children's book:    Where the Wild Things Are

Song:    Happy When it Rains (Jesus and Mary Chain)

Sports Team:    Who ever is losing.

Travel destination:    At the moment, anywhere less damp than England.

Superhero:    My dad

Magic power:    Flight

We are Sweet on Books, so we have to ask – what is your favorite sweet treat?

Lemon sorbet

Hilary McKay was born in Boston, Lincolnshire and is the eldest of four girls. From a very early age she read voraciously and grew up in a household of readers. Hilary says of herself as a child "I anaesthetised myself against the big bad world with large doses of literature. The local library was as familiar to me as my own home." After reading Botany and Zoology at St. Andrew's University Hilary then went on to work as a biochemist in an Analysis Department. Hilary enjoyed the work but at the same time had a burning desire to write. After the birth of her two children, Hilary wanted to devote more time to bringing up her children and writing so decided to leave her job. One of the best things about being a writer, says Hilary, is receiving letters from children. She wishes that she had written to authors as a child, but it never occurred to her to contact them Hilary now lives in a small village in Derbyshire with her family. When not writing Hilary loves walking, reading, and having friends to stay.