Q. Most people love chocolate. How did you come up with the idea for this book?
A. I made up a story each meal time when my kids were little to stop them from squirming or jumping up and running around. The stories were always off the top of my head and this particular story was made-up while my kids were eating porridge for breakfast. They like porridge just fine but I decided to tell a story about a more decadent breakfast and a giant bowl of chocolate was what came to mind. It's not my ideal breakfast though, I have almost no sweet tooth at all! I'd rather sourdough rye toast and eggs Florentine - heavy, savoury food.
Q Do you envisage any more adventures for the characters?
A. I really like the character of Belle in this book as she's so zesty, she could easily have more adventures (especially with a giant as a friend) but I'm happy to leave her be for now as I have too many other projects to focus on.
Q. I loved the way you brought in porridge and it’s benefits. Were you sneakily promoting a healthy message there?
A. Because this story was originally improvised I didn't have any conscious thoughts about promoting healthy eating but I've no doubt my sub-conscious did. I've been surprised by how kids have reacted to this book, I expected they would all focus on the chocolate aspect but I've had several parents tell me their kids get more excited about the porridge which I think is great.
Q. How did you deal with the illustrations?
A. My publisher sent me a list of illustrators to choose from and one of my favourites was Nathaniel Eckstrom. I hadn't heard of him previously but I looked up his website and liked his quirky, retro style. I was happy for him to illustrate the story his own way with little input from me and I think he did a fantastic job.
Q. Do you have advice for anyone planning to write and publish a picture book?
A. . Besides reading current picture books widely and noting which publishers publish what, I think it can be useful getting some professional feedback to hone your skills. This could be a manuscript assessment or entering a competition that provides feedback such as the annual CYA comp.