Spaghetti Hunting With Morag Hood! Posted on 21 Jul 18:01

This week we're celebrating the publication of The Spaghetti Hunters by Morag Hood! Morag will be familiar to many customers of Paper Tiger. Morag worked with us to develop a range of exclusive cards for us, and we sell her children's picture books in our shop. 

Despite lockdown Morag has had a busy 2020. She gave birth to her son Finnur at the end of 2019, and has had two books published this month! The Spaghetti Hunters is Morag's tenth book, written and illustrated in her distinctive and engaging style. The images are bold and vivid, and plot concerns the confused exploits and expeditions of a mallard duck and tiny horse as they seek to solve their Spaghetti crisis!

You can click over to Facebook to hear Morag reading her new story, but please do read on to find out a little more about Morag, her work, and her new book:

PT: What was your favourite book as a child?

MH: I was a big fan of anything by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (especially Burglar Bill) and I loved a book called ‘A Visit From a Turtle’ by Gene Deitch and Vratislav Hlavaty, I thought it was hilarious that everything is called by the wrong name.

PT: When did you first realise that you had a talent for telling stories with your art?

MH: I’ve always liked drawing, but when I started my MA in Children’s Book Illustration I realised just how much my illustration work is fuelled by storytelling and that I enjoy the writing as much as the illustration.

PT: Which comes first for you, the images or the words?

MH: It varies a little, but mostly I think of the images and words together. The idea is usually tied up in the interaction between the two.

PT: What do you think makes a good story?

MH: I like fun stories, with little surprises and that elusive satisfying ending.

PT: Where do you get your inspiration for your books? How did the Spaghetti Hunters become a story?

MH: Sometimes I wish I knew! Especially when I am scrabbling around for a new idea. I have been trying to get a duck into a book for ages, and it was only when I really embraced the idiosyncratic ideas in my sketchbook that it all came together. I can't quite remember why the horse ended up so small... but she did. And spaghetti is one of my favourite foods. There's a little nod to the spaghetti trees from panorama in the 1950s and I'm sure that had something to do with it. I liked the idea of trying to find something while not having a clue about what it actually was.

PT: How do you record your ideas and sketches?

MH: I do lots of quick little messy drawings in my sketchbook, which often only make sense to me.

PT: You had your son Finnur at the very end of 2019, has he inspired any stories yet?

MH: He's definitely given me plenty to think about! It feels like there may be a few ideas bubbling under the surface, so I hope when I get a little more time to concentrate on work a whole story might emerge! Reading books with him has already given me such a new appreciation of what makes a good book.

PT: How long does it take you to write a book?

MH: Anything from 2 weeks to a couple of years! Sometimes the writing itself can happen very fast, but then the artwork will take several months to produce. And in the meantime I will also have written a lot of stories which just don't work, but are an important part of the process to get to the ones that go on to be published.

PT:How do you think things will change for you and for books as adjust to a world with coronavirus?

MH: I think my day to day work will change a fair bit, as I used to do a lot of school visits and public readings in bookshops. And a lot of my books are sold in small independent businesses which are having a hard time at the moment without the usual footfall and customers browsing. We are all going to have to adapt our way of doing things.

PT: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

MH: Embrace the things which seem odd, they are probably what will make your work different and interesting.

PT: What do you like to do when you're not writing or drawing?

MH: I absolutely love cooking and baking for people, which is probably why there is always some kind of food in my books.

PT: What are you working on next?

MH: I don't know! Isn't that exciting? Being on maternity leave this year is the first time I've had a proper break from writing since I started trying to make books. It's been really valuable to gain a bit of distance and I'm looking forward to getting stuck back in developing new ideas with Two Hoots.

It was great to catch up with Morag, and I was very grateful to her for the time she took to answer my questions! We have signed copies of the new book available in store, and we are giving away a free signed print with every copy (while stocks last, etc) - BUY YOUR COPY HERE!