Stink is the world’s naughtiest fairy…where did the idea come from to make her naughty instead of nice?
The moment Stink burst out of the fairy door she took on a life of her own. She is rarely deliberately naughty, but she is mischievous and anarchic, and her fascination with Humanyland combined with her desire to beat her arrogant big brother Fernando at something… anything, do get her into trouble. I think a lot of readers will relate to Stink’s antics. Who wouldn’t want to swim in a chocolate fountain or ride a fox? I was also keen for Stink to offer an alternative to the more traditional delicate, ultra-feminine fairy. Stink wears a boilersuit, her wings are falling apart and I’m pretty sure she’s never collected dew off a flower at dawn. She’s probably eaten a few flowers though.
I think my Stink readers will be quite similar in age to my current middle grade audience, although hopefully the book will attract some younger readers too because of its length and the pictures. The humour works on several levels and ranges from the simplest of jokes (Stink squirting toothpaste in Danny’s sister’s face as she ‘helps’ her do her teeth) to the more sophisticated humour of Danny’s wry narration. In some ways Stink is similar to the Land of Roar series and Dead Good Detectives: a funny observant child-narrator is amazed to find themselves at the heart of a magical adventure, but Stink has a simpler plot than my MG books, and for that reason was easier to write. Unfortunately, any time I saved writing the book was lost when I started drawing hundreds and hundreds of pictures of sparkly troll poo and sweets.
I am ridiculously excited about the possibilities for Stink. I know from reading books to my own children that they enjoy stories that feature familiar life-events like parties, school trips, first days at school and that they also love fantasy and comedy. Stink allows me to combine these elements in delicious ways. Stink’s complete ignorance of Humanyland (as she calls it) gives me so many opportunities for humour and, of course, at any point, Stink can pop back to fairyland to introduce a new fantasty character to the story. It’s fair to say, I have LOTS of ideas for Stink and Danny and the plot for book 2 is so wild I grin whenever I think about it.
Because there are so many pictures and they are so integral to the text it certainly helped that I was the illustrator. I absolutely loved bringing Danny and Stink to life, although Stink’s wings became the bane of my life. Why did I make them so complicated? I have a whole page of wings on my iPad that I deploy for different situations, but I’m sure I’ve still drawn a few back to front. I did regret a few of the writing decisions I made when I came to illustrate them. I remember discovering that one picture required me to draw Danny, his best friend, Kabir and Professor Najin on a raft made out of a wormer that was crashing down into a river. Stink was holding on to Danny’s hair and Professor Najin had her head stuck inside the wormery. My heart sank a little when I saw that brief, but I’ve always loved a challenge.
I’ve discovered that this is one of the joys of writing and illustrating a book. I write in the morning and when I get fidgety and run out of steam (around 2.00pm, if you’re curious) I switch over to drawing. Writing and drawing seem to use different parts of my brain so this means I can keep going for longer. Also, I can listen to music and podcasts when I draw whereas I need silence when I write so afternoons have become very fun for me.
On the one hand, Stink is a slapstick comedy: Stink works for an organisation called the Fairy Assistance Response Team (look at that closely) and she creates mayhem wherever she goes. On the other hand, Stink explores relationships and emphasises the importance of friendships, resilience and taking care of the special things around us, whether they be foxes, lonely neighbours or over-grown gardens. But if I have one hope for Stink, it is that she makes my young readers laugh. Right now, our children need as much happiness in their lives as possible and if Stink brings a little of this to them, then hurrah!
Stink. Worst. Fairy. Ever is published by FarShore and is available from today!