Interview: Fiona Wood and Simmone Howell, authors
What are your Hogwarts houses?
Fiona and Simmone: *Laugh*
Fiona: I’m so ashamed, I don’t have one.
Fiona: I’ve never been on the site, I’ve never gone through that sorting hat exercise. I know you can do it, I’m just not that dedicated. However, when I was reading the books to my children, literally way back when they were published, I always fancied myself a Gryffindor. Sorry!
Simmone: See, I think I would’ve been a Hufflepuff, and I think it’s just because I like saying Hufflepuff.
Because of the word?
Simmone: Yeah, it’s so alliterative and there’s lots of F’s in it. Like [Fiona] I’m not dedicated enough to have done the testing.
[Fiona compliments the colour of Tanzeem’s computer (purple) and Tanzeem dies a little and everyone realises that Aahana’s questions are invisible, a.k.a. her sheet is actually blank because we were trying to look professional.]
Who is your favourite character that you have ever written in your books?
Simmone: That’s actually really hard… I think I would have to say Riley Rose from Everything Beautiful. Because she felt like the most complete character to write, she really felt like she was already written when I started it. Every time something happened to her I knew exactly how she’d respond, and I haven’t really had that with a character before. And she’s much more loud and bolshie and upfront more than I would ever dare to be.
Fiona: She’s a gorgeous character, I love her. And I would probably choose Lou and she’s a character who’s in Six Impossible Things and in Wildlife and in Cloudwish. And she’s in there because she’s a linking character. I created her for Six Impossible Things and I really liked her as a very minor character and I always wanted to spend more time with her. So I made her one of the two point-of-view characters in Wildlife, where she really had the role of being the friend that Sibylla needed and then she was still there in Cloudwish doing her Lou thing which is really a lot of straight talking, common sense, no bulls*** sort of friendship. She’s cool, I like her. If she became flesh and blood she and I would be really good friends.
Do you enjoy reading and have you always enjoyed reading?
What was the first book you remember reading?
Simmone: The first book I ever really remember – I can remember reading things like the Dr Seuss books and I remember having a really, really strong connection to the Lorax and it’s actually the book of my childhood that I have kept. I didn’t keep all of them, but there’s that one.
The same copy?
Simmone: Yeah the same copy. It’s all torn up now, I don’t know what happened there. That one and also Go Dog Go, for some reason, like I really liked dogs.
Do you have a dog?
Simmone: I do! I have a dog! But probably [the books] that I really liked were the Enid Blyton books but also The Hobbit when I first read it, it was like a revelation to me. Because I did not know that kind of world and I did not know what was coming.
Fiona: I’ve always been an absolutely keen, manic reader, ever since I can remember. And I think the first books I really fell for in a big way when I was pretty young was The Faraway Tree books and The Wishing Chair books, and soon after The Famous Five, The Secret Seven. I’ve still got some of my original Narnia paperbacks, I love those. But I do remember, the first time I finished a book that didn’t have any illustrations in it, which was a chapter book, a grown up book, I would have been very young, like in primary school. I was lying on my stomach in the living room of my home and I read it from cover to cover without stopping, and I finished reading it and I thought, ‘Now I’m a grown up reader,’ and I still remember that, but I don’t remember the book. It was a library book.
Think of your favourite book. Who would be three actors you would place in your dream cast for a film adaption of that movie (even if an adaption already exists)?
Fiona: That would take me days to think of something like that. I just watched the new Anne with an E adaption of Anne of Green Gables. I don’t even know the actors name who plays Anne, but to me that is an example of very good casting – she looks just like the Anne in my brain. It’s the only adaptation I’ve seen, I did not ever look at the other one, she did not look like Anne to me. I saw the stills and I thought ‘I am not going there, that is not Anne.’ And an example of terrible casting is Gwyneth Paltrow in-
[Aahana and Fiona say at the exact same time]: Emma!
I wholeheartedly agree with that.
Fiona: So I’m changing the question around a little bit, I’m giving you a great bit of casting and a shocking bit of casting.
[Aahana and Fiona discuss how shockingly bad that casting was, while Tanzeem sits quietly because she has neither seen nor read Emma, despite owning the novel.]
Simmone: Casting is really hard! I can’t even think of favourite books! These are kind of like too big, big questions! I’m going to have to come back to it. I was going to say I like Shia LaBeouf. Well it could be because I like saying his name as well.