Violet is now in her third voyage, can you tell us a little bit about what happens in Violet and the Smugglers?
Well, it’s the summer holidays and Uncle Johnny has inherited a sailing boat, on which Art and Violet set sail from Greece to Venice, uncovering some smugglers on the way. They meet up with Rose in Venice, along with a host of other characters, some old, some new, and set out to crack the smugglers ring. I’d better not say too much more, but I’m really pleased with this book and I hope it captures the fun and excitement of an adventurous summer holiday, combined with a good old mystery.
Congratulations on being shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2015 for Violet and the Pearl of the Orient! If you could dream of winning one award for your books what would it be?
I would be forever grateful and entirely delighted to win any award! But I guess for the Violet books, a ‘Laugh Out Loud’ would be very nice.
You have three daughters, do they enjoy reading your books? Do you try out your new stories on them before they are published?
Yes they do all read the books and are all very helpful, particularly my youngest daughter, Clara. She is ten, and a great source of inspiration to me in coming up with stories.
What was your main inspiration to write your first children’s book?
I have always loved writing and used to write stories just for fun. Then, when two of my daughters proved to be mildly dyslexic, and so were pretty reluctant readers, I found a lack of short, funny books that they could try to try to tackle on their own or we could read together. Just to get on my soapbox for a moment, I do think short books are really important. As anyone with children who aren’t great readers knows, long books can be intimidating for them. There is such a danger that those children get turned off reading. So I had a go at writing such a book myself and the result was Violet and the Pearl of the Orient.
Are any of the characters in your books based on anyone you know?
No, or not that I’m admitting to!
Did you always dream of being an author? If not, what was your dream job?
I don’t know if it counts as a job exactly but when I was about Violet’s age what I really wanted was to live in Tolkien’s Middle Earth and fight orcs with Aragorn (my first crush). Or, if that wasn’t possible, I would have settled for being Tintin. The idea of being an author didn’t really cross my mind until much later, when I was in my twenties.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young aspiring author what would that be?
It would be to read, read and read some more, and when you are reading a book you love, try and work out what is so great about it - is it the characters or the plot or the world that the author has created?
Can we expect many more adventures from Violet in the future?
Yes, happily the lovely people at Simon & Schuster have asked me to send Violet off on two further adventures. I am writing the fourth book at the moment, which will be called Violet and the Mummy and is set partly in London and partly (no surprises here) in Egypt.
Find out more about Harriet and Violet and the Smugglers at www.simonandschuster.co.uk