Welcome to Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books. Today, we are celebrating the debut publication of Marie Basting's book, Princess BMX. The book was published on the 1st August 2019 by Chicken House Books and has been superbly illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino. You should check out the website link for more examples of amazing artwork and design.
The book is a perfect fairytale adventure for the summer that will entertain younger readers or possibly the inner princess within you. This week, the author will be zipping by on her BMX bike showing off her tricks and riding the air on some of the best children's blogs around. Please see the blog tour banner at the bottom of this page for more information.
Marie has kindly answered some questions to give us a thought-provoking insight into the book. Hopefully, it will also give you a taste of what you might find amongst the pages of this brilliant story. So, without further delay, here is the interview with Marie. I hope you enjoy this post and follow the other posts as part of this tour.
How would you describe Princess BMX to potential readers?
Princess BMX is a funny, upside-down fairy tale adventure that brings the princess story bang up to date. It’s upside-down for a number of reasons. Firstly, it features a fairy tale character who finds everything changes when she comes to our world – she’s been brought up surrounded by dragons and unicorns and yet she finds magic in the urban chaos of Camden and BMX. The other characters are a bit upside down too, playing with reader expectations and challenging the tropes of the fairy tale.
What fun and games does Avariella get up to in this book?
Avariella, or Ava as her new friends call her, spends a lot of time hanging around the skate-park in Camden, BMX being a natural progression from her extreme sack racing back home. Through BMX, she finds the freedom and acceptance she’s been seeking, but her radical sporting adventures are not without consequence triggering a whole host of magical fun and games.
What is the Bubblegum Bazaar?
The Bubble Gum Bazaar is whatever the reader wants it to be. We know it’s a fete in the far reaches of Biscotti, and that it’s significant enough for the royal family to put their best togs on, but much of the detail is left to the imagination. It’s important to me not to talk down to or spoon-feed young readers, to leave gaps for them to fill. It’s their imaginations that complete the story.
Do you use humour in this book? What effect do you think laughter has on the reader?
I’ve been told by my dog, who can be quite mean about my writing if I don’t feed her sufficient biscuits, that Princess BMX is a very funny book. I’m hoping readers agree and my fluffy critic hasn’t just had one gravy bone too many. Humorous books are increasingly important. Thanks to the mess adults have made of things, kids have far too much to worry about. Laughter provides a release, allowing them to focus on the now. Funny books are sometimes looked down on but they can help nurture a lifelong love of reading, and what’s wrong with having a little fun?
If you could choose one BMX bike, what would it be and why?
I’m rubbish on a BMX so probably one with magical powers that would stop me being such a wussy knickers and help me attack the berm with the same ferocity as Ethan, Ava’s first proper friend. And, NO, he is not her boyfriend!!!
The book cover and interior illustrations are by one of my favourite illustrators, Flavia Sorrentino. How do they complement the story?
I adore Flavia’s illustrations. She captures Ava’s adventurous and rebellious nature so well, reinforcing her unconventionality. Flavia’s illustrations allow readers to pause and really consider the characters and the magical world I’ve created while also adding an extra element of excitement and awe to the key action scenes.
When writing books for children, what do you think they look for in a good story? What do you think they will like the most about your book?
There are so many different genres within children’s fiction, it’s difficult to generalise, but I think the one constant is the desire for a character they can connect with. Princess Ava may come from a different world but she wants the same things any child does – friendship, acceptance and for grown-ups to stop moaning at her. She’s also funny and kind and brave, so while the humour is likely to be the first thing to draw the reader in, I think it’s Ava’s spirit they’ll love the most.
How hard was it to get your first book published?
On the surface, it wasn’t that hard at all. I pitched the book more by accident before it was ready to submit and feel extremely lucky that Chicken House wanted to publish it. You have to remember, though, it took me until I reached my forties to actually shake off the self-doubt and believe someone like me could become a writer. Believing in myself and rising above the expectations set by others was the hardest bit of my writing journey.
You're hosting a literary dinner party, which authors/illustrators would you invite and why?
I’d invite all the fantastic writers and illustrators who have supported me on the way: SCBWI friends, my MA cohort and the lovely middle-grade debut authors I’ve connected with more recently. They are my real literary heroes and they’re probably much more likely to turn-up than Neil Gaiman or Jack Kerouac.
Princess BMX is Marie’s debut novel. But she plans to write lots more as soon as she has finished watching Adventure Time. Marie loves Adventure Time because, like Princess BMX, it is a kind of modern fairy tale, and Marie wants to show children that magic is everywhere even if it is sometimes hard to find. That sounds corny but trust me it is not as corny as Marie’s feet.
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