Molly Mischief (Pavilion Children’s Books) is the new creation from Mr Men author and illustrator, Adam Hargreaves. Molly is a little cheeky. In the first book in the series, Molly wants a new pet. But finding the right type is going to be tricky…and mischief ensures when Molly, inspired by a trip to the zoo, ‘borrows’ animals to work out which sort of pet will suit her best.
We’re delighted to be able to ask Adam Hargreaves a few questions about his work, and the inspiration behind Molly and her adventures.
The inspiration for Molly comes from the wonderful ability that children have to imagine something and for that to also be real for them. I particularly remember this when my kids were young. I wanted to capture this power of imagination in a character. Molly can be or do anything she wishes. Her strong-willed nature, if you can put it that way, was inspired by my daughter, Jessica! And regarding Molly’s adventures, I had a lot of fun playing around with themes for the books… in the first story, what it would be like if you could have any animal as a pet and then what sort of chaos or mischief that might lead to! I am writing a second story about Molly which explores the advantages and pitfalls of being a superhero. And her superpowers, of course, involve a lot of chaos and mayhem for her family.
Was the relationship between Molly and her brother inspired by any siblings in particular that you know? What was your relationship with your siblings like when you were a child?
Molly and her brother’s relationship is a combination of lots of fraught sibling moments. My brother and I had very dissimilar likes when we were young which led to lots of clashes through our childhood. We now get on remarkably well, although we can still manage a fierce disagreement, but at least these days we don’t end up wrestling on the floor! My sisters are seven years younger so that relationship involved a lot of teasing.
You’ve been working on the Mr Men and Little Miss series for nearly 30 years. Did creating Molly involve a different way of working, or was it a similar process?
The creation of the idea for Molly was obviously quite different, but writing and illustrating Mr Men books has given me a lot of experience, which I have been able to apply to writing Molly. Over the years I have developed a sort of process that fits to anything I am trying to write.
What’s your typical writing day like?
I am surprisingly disciplined. I start at 8.30, coffee at 10.00, lunch at 1.00 and then finish at 5.00. I am definitely a morning person. That is when I am most productive.
Where do you write and draw?
I have the shortest commute in the word. Eight paces from my back door to my office, so I am very lucky. The small annex I work in is one long room which is very similar to the previous two buildings I have worked in. My dad’s studio was known as the ‘long room’ and I have coincidently always ended up in long, one-storey buildings just like his.
What are the “can’t live without” items you use as an illustrator?
I am very particular about the pens I draw with, obsessively so, and woe betide anyone who takes one of them. The felt tips I use are all at particular points in in their life span which determines how soft the tip is and in turn the thickness of the line when I draw. Don’t get me started on my pens!
Which illustrators or artists, past or present, do you admire most?
That would be a very long list and an ever evolving list. Herge, Monet (In fact, many of the impressionists), Dr Zeuss, Sasek are a few that come to mind instantly.
What are the best and worst things about being an author-illustrator?
Creating something each day is a real pleasure and gives me a wonderful sense of achievement. Also, being rather anti-social, I do enjoy working on my own. One of the more irritating things is the approval process. I’m not good when I have to change things. I always think I know best!
Did you have any pets as a child?
I had a hamster when I was young. I always wanted a dog, but I am allergic to them. And then, rather bizarrely, I had two goats when I was about 21 during my farming days. A long story!
Molly Mischief by Adam Hargreaves is out now, published by Pavilion, £6.99 paperback.
You can download a free Molly Mischief activity pack and resources here.
To request posters and bookmarks by post (while stocks last), please email your full name and address to: firstname.lastname@example.org with “Molly Mischief posters/bookmarks” in the subject line.
Adam Hargreaves will be introducing Molly Mischief, including a live draw-along, at the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature. Sunday 1st October, 1.30pm