Lucy Coats Interview & Competition

Photograph by Peter van  den Berg Lucy Coats is the author of picture books including the charming One Hungry Baby. She has also written a series of book about Greek Beasts and Heroes. Lucy’s most recent book Bear’s Best Friend  (illustrated by Sarah Dyerhas recently been published by Bloomsbury.

Lucy, Can you still remember how you felt when your first book One Hungry Baby was published?  Do you still get that feeling when you see one of your new books on the shelves?
I certainly can! I remember not entirely believing that it was really here, even though I held the book in my hands. That feeling never really goes away, however many books I have published – it’s a bit like having a new baby, a mixture of immense joy and pride, and also maybe a little bit of fear as it takes those first steps into the world of buyers and bookshops.

As the author of the Greek Beasts and Heroes series, can you share with us your favourite myth?
I always have major difficulties with this question, as I love so many of them. If you’re going to press me, though, I’d choose the creation myth of Nyx, Goddess of Night and mother of the three Moirai or Fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, who weave the tapestry of all our lives. It speaks to something very deep inside me, and never fails to send a shiver down my spine.

What is it that drew you to write about the world of myths and legends?
Myths and legends have been a part of my life ever since I can remember. It’s as if those stories are a part of my DNA, really. They are very old and very powerful, and they teach brilliant and necessary lessons about life and human behaviour. Much of our culture is based on them – there are references to them in surprisingly everyday parts of our existence (how many people wear Nike trainers?) – and I think it’s very important for me to try and reinterpret them in a way that this and future generations of children will find exciting and be able to understand.

mail (2)Which character from a children’s book did you relate to or aspire to be as a child?
It was a toss-up between Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden and Maria from The Little White Horse. I was a lonely, only child, like Mary, who liked getting her hands in the earth, growing things, and reading books (I still do like all those things) so I related to Mary. However, I also wanted to be someone who had magic in her life. Maria’s Moonacre seemed to me to be the perfect place to live – I wanted a magical unicorn-horse, I wanted to have adventures, and I wanted most desperately to learn to cook like Marmaduke Scarlet.

If you could meet a children’s author (from any era), who would you choose to meet and what would you like to ask them?
Ooh! I love questions like this! Again, it’s a close call between two – Elizabeth Goudge and the late, great Diana Wynne Jones. I think it would have to be Diana, though, as it’s one of my abiding regrets that I never managed to meet her. There wouldn’t be just one question – I’d want to spend a whole day with her, just talking about the craft of writing, and, inevitably, what stories she would like to have gone on writing for Howl and Chrestomanci.

Your latest book Bear’s Best Friend has recently been published. If you had to face any bear from children’s literature – fearsome or friendly – which one would it be?
I’d like to face Iorek Byrnison from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. He’s brave, wise, and honourable, and a chance to talk to him and ride on his back among the Svalbard snows would be a marvellous thing.

Will you be out and about visiting bookshops and literary festivals over the next few months?
Yes, I will. My next visits are to Tales on Moon Lane Bookshop in Herne Hill and Discover Story Centre in Stratford, and there are more in the pipeline, which will be announced later.

What do you most enjoy about these events?
Sharing my stories with children and seeing their faces when I do silly giant snoring or big bear sobs. I no longer have any self-consciousness about stuff like that, and am happy to make a fool of myself in public. Connecting with my readers is a great privilege, and I love talking to them and answering all their questions about books, writing (and my desk dogs).

COMPETITION ALERT: Thanks to the team at Bloomsbury Publishing, you can win a copy of Lucy Coats & Sarah Dyer’s book Bear’s Best Friend. To enter the competition, please email your name & address to and tell us which fictional bear Lucy Coats would most like to face.
Competition closes at midday on Wednesday 8th May. 


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