Friday, February 3, 2012

An Interview with Natasha Ferrill


The DMS was lucky enough to interview Natasha Ferrill, author of the children's picture book The Lemonman: A Picnic, A Toad And Swampwater Road. This quirky story had my little sister, Margo, completely enchanted from beginning to end. So much so, that we reviewed it on Margo's Musings. (read the review) So, a warm welcome to Natasha Ferrill! Thank you for letting us get to know you a little better.


1) What inspired you to write The Lemonman: A Picnic, A toad, And Swampwater Road? 

The Lemonman character came to me one night in a dream when I was only three years old.  He was sitting at a dining room table, having Christmas dinner with a worm who was wearing a top hat, and the idea has been stuck in my head ever since!  The day after that dream I took a scrap piece of paper from an old agenda book and some markers, and I drew the first illustration of The Lemonman!  At the time, for whatever reason, he was only a lemon wedge – he has since evolved into a full lemon.  The inspiration for the story itself came from writing and revising many times throughout my life. After going through a few ideas, I finally decided on a picnic for the first story.      



The Lemonman’s Early Years
2) How long did it take you to write the book?

Considering the idea came to me as a toddler, and I spent years of my childhood and adult life writing, revising and re-writing, I would say it took many, many years!  During my mid-twenties, I started to re-think the whole idea that had been swirling around in my head since the age of three and that’s when I made the decision to write entirely in rhyme.  After several revisions I finalized the story in 2010.

3) What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

My favourite type of book has always been children’s books, both picture and chapter.  It was something about the way they made me feel as I read through each page – the magical stories, the colourful pictures, the interesting lives of the characters, and the way those simple words on a page of paper could take me away to another world.  Some of my favourites included “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll,  “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame, “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis, the Little Miss and Mr. books by Roger Hargreaves and of course anything by the wonderfully talented Dr. Seuss.  If I had to choose a favourite, however, it would definitely be “Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne. 
I’m very inspired by some of the great children’s book authors of our time and their work, such as the ever-fascinating Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss).  His work is timeless and classic and I cannot imagine a childhood without his wondrous stories tucked inside those nonsense rhymes.  Another great inspiration for me is A.A. Milne.  To me, the simple vocabulary, timeless storyline and enchanting characters in “Winnie-the-Pooh” are complete and utter perfection and it is my belief that A.A. Milne was nothing less than a genius.  Beatrix Potter is another inspiration, mostly because I find her determination and willingness to succeed as a woman during her time so intriguing and commendable. 
4) Where did you come up with the idea of Applenook?

I knew that I wanted many different characters and places that were consistent throughout the series, a place that kids would be excited to read about and to feel that sense of comfort from seeing the same friendly faces, so that’s when I decided to create the town of Applenook (i.e. the garden).  I really have little recollection of where the idea came from for the name of the town and the idea for the older human couple, mostly because I was around twelve years old when I scribbled down the first draft of the preface (The Story of Applenook).      
5) How did you meet the illustrator, Jose Pou?

I was introduced to José through a mutual friend, who knew I had been desperately searching for an illustrator for some time.  I had a very specific vision of the characters/town and the illustration style, so when José sent me a draft I instantly knew he would be perfect!  He understood exactly what I was looking for with regards to colours, style and detail.  José is a local animator and his work is amazing – he’s currently re-doing his website, but in the meantime here is his blog for anyone interested: 
http://jose-pou.blogspot.com/
6) What is your favorite fruit?
Now that’s a difficult question because although I’m quite partial to The Lemonman, I’m actually not a big fan of lemons!  I prefer bananas, grapes, strawberries and watermelon. 
7) If you could have a picnic anywhere on earth, where would you choose?
I’d love to jump inside my book and have a lovely picnic at Cherry Blossom Park in Applenook, of course!  This is a tough one, because there are so many places I’d love to travel to, but for a good old fashioned picnic in the park, I would say Central Park in NY – would love to visit some day!   

8) Where can we purchase a copy of The Lemonman?

My book is sold in local bookstores in Ottawa, ON Canada, but for everyone else, you can purchase the book through my website at www.thelemonman.com  or through Amazon at www.amazon.com.  Any book that comes through my website is a signed copy!

 Author Natasha Ferrill


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“Children need books for so many reasons – not just for fun and learning, but also for a sense of stability in their lives, for comfort, and for the ability to escape into an unknown and magical world where a white rabbit runs late, a boy and his bear play in the forest and a lovable lemon learns about life.”








11 comments:

  1. Delightful interview! Wow, I don't think I could recall anything that happened (in reality and dreams) when I was three.

    I have a treasured copy of A.A. Milne's poems. His words are gemstones - each of them.

    The Lemonman sounds wonderful. Best of luck with it!

    Claudine
    http://www.carryusoffbooks.com/blog.html

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  2. @Claudine- So glad you enjoyed the interview. Natasha Ferrill is such an interesting author. The Lemonman is a great children's book. I hope you get to check it out!

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  3. Such a great interview! I love that this idea came to her at three years old. That blows my mind. I definitely have to get this for my daughter.

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  4. What a great interview! I love so many of the same books as this author. I read all of the Beatrix Potter books- they were so sweet. Also, I enjoyed finding out about where she got her ideas. Reading about how young she was when she started makes me want to write.

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  5. Fantastic interview! It's amazing the journeys that writers go through from an idea through all the twists and turns until the final story! It's inspiring!

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  6. Great interview! I absolutely love this whole concept. I love the fact it came to you in a dream as a toddler, and look what you've made of it.

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  7. Excellent interview. My little granddaughter was a year old last week and her mummy and daddy held a teddy bear’s picnic birthday party in the Botanical Gardens in Adelaide. It would be lovely if she could have her next one at Cherry Blossom Park in Applenook!

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  8. @Kelly- It blows my mind that Natasha was so young when the idea came to her. It is such a great story- your daughter will love it!

    @Elaine- Hoe cool that this interview made you want to write! Go with that! You never know what will come of it. Also, I always love to find out that I enjoy the same books as authors that I like!

    @Greg- You are right- the journey that each author goes on is inspiring!

    @Donna- Yeah! Super that you enjoyed the interview. I agree with you- it is amazing that the idea came to Natasha at such a young age!

    @Barbara- Glad you enjoyed the interview! Your granddaughter's birthday picnic sounds delightful and I love your idea about Cherry Blossson Park!

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  9. How cool that the author remembered her dream and used it to write a book. Maybe I should start keeping track of my dreams.

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  10. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is one of my favorite books too! Great interview.

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  11. @Trey- It would be fascinating to keep track of our dreams. I may start doing that, too!

    @Flex- I love that series, too. Such fun!

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