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Q&A with Sarah Todd Taylor, author of Arthur and Me

Welcome to the second of our weekly series of chats with the brilliant authors of our Dragonfly series of books for younger readers.

This week we have Sarah Todd Taylor joining us, author of the very funny Arthur and Me, illustrated by Peter Stevenson, which won the Firefly Children’s Book Prize 2014 and has recently been selected for the BookTrust Letterbox pack.

 

Where did you get the idea for Arthur and Me?
I really wanted to write a story about one of the old Welsh heroes, but thought it would be fun to turn the story on it's head and have the hero not save the day for once. I love visiting Harlech Castle, so I wanted to set the story there, and once I had a castle I had to have a king. I've always loved the idea that Arthur is fast asleep waiting for his country to need his help, so it was hard to resist the idea of waking him up to see what would happen if he was dropped into a 21st century school.
 
2017 is the Year of Legends in Wales. Do you have a favourite legend and why?
The story of Gelert, the loyal hound, I think, although it makes me cry every time I read it. I adore animals and think their capacity for love and loyalty is huge and the story of Gelert is all about loyalty.  I also love the idea of Nessie - I'm a big fan of dinosaurs and monsters, so the thought that there might be something living in Loch Ness makes me smile. 
 
You were the winner of the Firefly Children’s Book Prize 2014 - what did that mean to you?
When I found out that I'd won the Firefly Prize I was over the moon. It meant so much that the judges had seen something they liked in Arthur and Me. It was even more exciting when Firefly said that they wanted to publish it. I've wanted to write for children since I was a teenager, so having my name on a book finally was a dream come true.
 
Which books by other children's authors do you like?
All of the Firefly authors, naturally. I also love the mystery stories of Katherine Woodfine and Robin Stevens and the adventure stories of Katherine Rundell and Abi Elphinstone. My favourite books from my own childhood are Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh and, being a fan of guinea pigs, I have a soft spot for Michael Bond's wonderful Olga da Polga series. 
 
What are you currently working on?
I'm currently working on a mystery series starring a cat called Max who lives in a London theatre. I'm having immense fun throwing Max and his friends into all sorts of scrapes and seeing them foil dastardly villains. I've been a big fan of detective stories for years, so it's bliss to be able to write my own series and I'm looking forward to when the first one comes out with Nosy Crow next March.
 
All Dragonfly books are half price on the Firefly Press website to celebrate Thimble Monkey Superstar by Jon Blake, illustrated by Martin Chatterton, being shortlisted for the Lollies Award 2017 - limited offer only. Click here for more information.