Children's Literature Interest Group: Interview with Ruth Walton

Ruth WaltonRuth Walton is the author of the Let's Find Out series - an original and innovative series of illustrated non-fiction books that introduces children to the world that surrounds them from the starting point of very familiar activity. The books feature a quirky style of illustration and design, which combines photographic textures and collage effects and the text includes questions to get the reader thinking and discussing, and panels with further information.

Where does your inspiration come from?

It sounds a bit mad, but the whole idea for the Let’s Find Out series came from eating cake! I was enjoying a bit of chocolate cake and it started me thinking about the phrase ‘a piece of cake’ meaning something is easy. I decided to find out all about cake and where its ingredients have come from. My research inspired me to write Let’s Bake a Cake to help people find out all about it.

Why do you make non-fiction books?

I love finding out about things, and making non-fiction for children seems like the best way to share all the amazing facts that I’ve discovered. There are way too many boring-looking information books out there, so I decided to make some bright and funky illustrations to make reading facts more fun!

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Nothing is impossible- Your dreams can come true and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Do you have favourite authors or books yourself? Who are they?

Tove Jannsen is a genius - her characters are as familiar to me as family friends! Moominland is a magical world and I love reading about all the creatures who live there and the adventures they have.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

The Lorax by Dr Seuss is possibly the best book in the whole world! It’s a story about what happens to the environment when people are too greedy, but it is still fun to read and filled with brilliant pictures.

How much does your editor change what you write? What relationship do you have with your editor?

My editor at Hachette is brilliant- she has given me so much valuable advice over the last three years, and helped to make the series flow smoothly. The art director is also really helpful, and will always answer tricky questions about boring technical computer things for me!

What control do you have over your book cover (and your illustrations)?

I have been very lucky in that the publisher has given me a lot of creative freedom with my book series. It was a compromise not to have my name on the covers, but I soon realised that was just my ego talking, and it was much more important to get maximum picture sizes.

Do you write with a particular age group in mind? How does the target age group affect your writing?

The Let’s Find Out series is aimed at 6-8 year olds, but everyone who reads the books seems to find out something new! I’ve started to run workshops at primary schools and it’s brilliant to hear all of the children's ideas and find out what the latest crazes are.

At what stage did you know you wanted to become an author?

I wrote and illustrated my first book aged eight - it was a science fiction comedy called ‘The Silly Roof’. I’ve always enjoyed writing and drawing so it seems natural for me to put the two together!

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