With Wish Upon a Southern Star soon to be launched in September, it is my pleasure to introduce you in advance to each of the contributing authors and to give you a taste of their work.
Today, meet Tony Wilson and find out about his story,
Tony Wilson is an author and broadcaster who has written fiction and non-fiction for both children and adults. He has published eight picture books, including The Cow Tripped Over the Moon (2015), which was a CBCA Honour book and the National Simultaneous Storytime title for 2017.
In 2012, Scholastic released a picture book by Tony called The Emperor’s New Clothes Horse. It played on the same Hans Christian Andersen fable retold in Wish Upon a Southern Star, but in a very different way.
You can find out more about Tony at www.tonywilson.com.au.
A Conversation with Tony
1) Tony, why do you write?
I write because it’s something I feel I’m reasonably good at. I was a lawyer for a while, and found that to be a miserable existence, because everything that is beautiful about language and thought is leached from the page in favour of arse-covering exactitude. So I quit in 1997, saying I wanted to write creatively, and have had a reasonable crack at it since. My first picture book was 2004. My first novel, a year later. I don’t necessarily find writing pleasant. I definitely have to force myself to do it. But I enjoy the results, when an idea or paragraph really works.
2) Why do you think fairy tales remain relevant today?
Fairy tales usually combine magic, other-worldliness, fantastical characters, morality tales and a connection to childhood that is appealing to many readers. They also exist as a canon, perhaps as universally known as any stories in our culture, so it’s a shared thing. The references resonate across wide readerships, and they can be twisted and rehashed with compelling results.
3) What was your favourite fairy tale as a child? Why did you like it so much then and is it still a favourite or has it been replaced and why?
My favourite was ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. I think I loved it mainly because it involved a ‘nudie run’! I had it on a Hans Christian Anderson tape containing songs from the Danny Kaye Disney movie. I recently saw the movie and discovered how dreadful it is! The other stories on the tape became favourites too, including Tubby The Tuba, Thumbelina and the Ugly Duckling. My least favourite was always ‘The Princess and the Pea’ because it annoyed me that the Princess was rewarded for complaining about a lousy pea under twenty mattresses. I ended up writing a picture book about that, ‘The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas’.
I think my favourite nowadays is ‘The Paper Bag Princess’ by Robert Munsch. It’s funny and contemporary, with a sassy, quick thinking princess saving the day, rescuing the prince, and then ditching him because he’s an ungrateful bum!
4) What is your favourite fairy tale retelling by another author? Why is it a favourite?
There’s nothing original about this choice, and my wife’s obsession with many of the current YA crop will have her howling, but loyalty to my childhood self and 40 years of pure love has to make it Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. I memorised the whole book, and can still recite ‘Cinderella’: “I guess you think you know this story, you don’t the real one’s much more gory!’
5) Can you tell us a little about your retold fairy tale?
As mentioned above, I loved 'The Emperor’s New Clothes’ from pre school days. I had some success with my ‘The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas’ and so tried to think of some other Hans Christian Anderson titles to fracture. ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes Horse’ made me laugh as a title, and from there, I just had to find a story and a moral upon which to spike the wonders of clothes lines and clothes horses. My emperor is just as stupid as Hans Christian Anderson’s emperor, but climate change is at the moral centre of the retelling.
A taste of Tony's story...
Once upon a time there was an Emperor who loved fancy and fashionable clothes. The Emperor was very rich, and he owned enough clothes to fill fifty wardrobes. He also changed outfits many times a day, which meant his palace staff struggled to keep up. There was always more washing and drying to be done. In fact there was so much drying that the Emperor owned one hundred and twenty tumble dryers.
One day, when the Emperor was attempting something daring with stripes, a messenger arrived.
‘Emperor,’ he said, ‘I have bad news. There has been a worldwide poll, and you have been voted the most power hungry Emperor on Earth.’
The Emperor was absolutely gobsmacked. ‘Me, power hungry? Why would they say that? I don’t declare wars. I’m nice to practically everyone. I thought my subjects all loved me.’
‘They do love you, sire,’ the messenger said. ‘But they think you waste power. They think you have too many tumble dryers.’
Want to find out what happens next?
Read the full story in
Wish Upon a Southern Star
(release date 2 September 2017)
Pre-order an e-copy from Amazon
(or wait for the release date to order your paperback copy from Amazon)
Attend the launch
Saturday 2nd September, 2pm
at the South Library, Christchurch
For Christchurch residents and launch attendees,
preorder a paperback direct from the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
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