After an amazing author talk on Thursday 19th April, MG Leonard sat with the Year Six Book Club for an interview.
You have some great characters in the Beetle Boy books. What is your inspiration for them?
Darkus is based on my eldest son. I imagined what my son would be like in the future and how he’d cope in that situation. Virginia is based on my best friend. Bertolt is very similar to someone that I used to work with. I combine people that I know with my imagination to come up with characters.
What is the most fascinating thing about beetles?
Beetles are unbelievably fascinating. They are so varied. There are around 360,000 species of beetles and they are so important for the environment. Some have really interesting features that help them stay safe from predators.
Would you ever write a story from Lucretia Cutter’s perspective?
That’s an interesting idea. The best books written from the villain’s perspective show them as the hero. It would be a very different story.
What was your favourite book as a child and what is your favourite book now?
I have three favourite books, all of which are children’s books. The first is The Wind and The Willows. I’m a big fan of Toad. I love The Secret Garden (mutterings of agreement from several members of Year Six Book Club). The Twits really makes me laugh. All of these helped me with Beetle Boy for different reasons.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge which I’m really pleased that I have finally gotten around to reading.
What made you write about beetles?
I talk about this in my author visits, but I was scared of bugs and insects. I started to learn about them to write and discovered how useful and great they really are. I saw that no one had written about beetles being the good guys and that’s how Beetle Boy began.
How did you come up with Lucretia’s plan?
Nothing she is doing is that far fetched. The American Potato Weevil was a rumoured biological weapon and people have thought about using beetles in warfare in real life. When I was writing I didn’t want the reader to know Lucretia’s plan from the start.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I wasn’t the best student at school so I didn’t think about being an author. I wanted to be an actress or a belly dancer!
What is your advice for authors?
If you have a story to tell (dramatic whisper) ignore your teachers. Teachers want you to pass your exams. To be an author you need to be a story teller. If people want to know what happens next then you know it is a good idea.
Did you send all of your books to be proof read by Dr Beynon?
Yes! She read the first book and really helped. By the time I’d written the second she almost had no choice but to help. She’s been involved with all of them and the non-fiction book that is coming out soon.
Did you get to choose Karl Mountford as your illustrator?
No, but I get to approve the illustrations. The cover for the first book was done by Julia Sarda, for the following books Karl Mountford did the interior illustrations which are amazing. The pictures of beetles are done by Elisabet Portabella.
We’d like to thank MG Leonard for an amazing visit to BGS. We had a lot of fun listening to her talk and learnt a lot about beetles and being an author.
The Beetle Boy series is published by Chicken House and details can be found here
The Beetle Collectors Handbook is coming out in September 2018 and can be pre-ordered here