Monday, 11 August 2014

We chat to Lou Kuenzler, rib-tickling author of the awesome "Princess Disgrace" and "Shrinking Violet" books

Lou Kuenzler (Photo Credit - Danny Wilder)
Today we're saying a huge ReadItDaddy "Hello" to an author who has been tickling Charlotte's funny bones over the last couple of weeks. 

Lou Kuenzler is the author of two upcoming books in Scholastic's awesome summer range. "Princess Disgrace - Second Term at Tall Towers" and "Shrinking Violet Absolutely Loves Ancient Egypt" and was kind enough to put herself under our spotlight for a chat. 

Take it away, Lou!

Hi Lou, and thanks for stopping by our blog. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

First of all, thanks so much for inviting me. I love talking about my writing - one of my favourite things about being an author is going to schools or festivals where I can chat to young readers about my books. When I am not doing that, I’m sitting at my big red desk talking aloud to myself as I write. I always talk when I’m writing. My children and my husband think it is hilarious - and I get some pretty funny looks from my dog (Willesden) and my two cats (Pingu and Chicken) - but I really find talking (and reading) aloud helps me to think. I can hear how my characters voices sound too, which is always really useful.

When I was young, I grew up on a very remote sheep farm in Devon. There weren’t many other children to play with so, whenever I was bored, I started telling myself stories (out loud, of course) and sometimes writing them down too. I am dyslexic, so it was often tricky to get the words down on paper, but I always loved the feeling of finishing a story I was really pleased with. I still get that same lovely buzz now when I finish writing one of my books.

Congratulations on your two new titles for Scholastic, Princess Grace and Shrinking Violet Loves Ancient Egypt. Can we have a quick summary of the books for our readers to bring them up to speed?

The inspiration for Princess Grace came from what I imagined it would be like if I had ever had to go to princess school. She is the clumsiest princess in the world! While all the other pupils at Tall Towers Academy are learning complicated dance steps and spinning around the ball room, poor Grace is tumbling down the stairs with her ballet shoes on the wrong feet. That is exactly what I am like! There are two Princess Grace books out now. First Term At Tall Towers sees one calamity after another as she learns to love the school. Best of all, she is given an adorable unicorn to ride. In Second Term At Tall Towers, Grace adopts a fire breathing dragon pup (never a good idea with all those yummy princesses for him to eat!)

Shrinking Violet Absolutely Loves Ancient Egypt is the latest in my series about an ordinary girl who shrinks to the size of a fish finger. It was great fun to imagine all the miniature adventures daredevil Violet would have on holiday in Egypt amongst the ancient tombs and spooky mummies. It turns out there is a chilling mystery she needs to solve and a cat she has to save ...

We love funny stories and humour for children - there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing a child giggling and snorting away while reading a book! What sort of thing influences your writing for children?

I absolutely love writing funny books. I agree, it is wonderful to see someone snorting with giggles as they bend over a book. I like the way that nobody else has any idea what they are laughing about - like it is a private joke between the reader and the characters in the story. I think that can really help to bring writing alive for children - adding plenty of giggles is something I always try to do in my own work. One of my favourite writers when I was little was Roald Dahl … and you don’t get funnier than that!

Charlotte is just beginning to stretch her reading ‘wings’ by reading books like Princess Disgrace and Shrinking Violet on her own. Do you think it’s important for parents to continue reading with children once they’ve started to become more independent?

I do think it is important to keep reading to children for as long as you possibly can. I think that special time - sharing a story - is something children miss if it is suddenly taken away (almost as if they are being punished for learning to read). Once children have discovered the joys of reading for themselves, it is great to continue sharing books that they will enjoy but that are perhaps too complicated for a new reader to tackle alone. If you are reading a slightly older story together there will always be plenty of things that come up for discussion. Reading is tiring when you first learn too and, sometimes, there is still nothing nicer that snuggling up and being read to at the end of the day.

We love picture books on the blog - any plans for stories or books for younger readers?

Yes! I just have written a funny colour-illustrated early reader called Princess Pip’s Perfect Party. It is coming out with Scholastic in October and tells the story of Princess Grace’s little sister. When Grace goes off to Tall Towers, Pip decides she ought to have some princess fun of her own. She begins to plan the perfect party but her father’s hairy warriors and his herd of smelly yaks are no help at all! When I had a sneak preview of the adorable funny illustrations for this book, I couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear.

My first picture, Eat Your People, is also coming out soon with Orchard books - watch out for some seriously hungry monsters!

A couple of questions from Charlotte...

Who is your favourite princess? (Fictional or otherwise!)

It has to be The Princess And The Pea - especially in the wonderful Lauren Child picture book version of the story. I just love the hilarious idea of trying to catch someone out by putting a tiny vegetable under their bed. The Pea Princess doesn’t stand for any nonsense though ...

I want to be a writer when I grow up! Any good advice?

Practice! Practice! Practice! Keep a notebook so you can remember all your good ideas … Oh, and talk out loud when you’re writing, of course!

Huge thanks to Lou for saying Hi! "Princess Disgrace: Second Term at Tall Towers" and "Shrinking Violet Absolutely Loves Ancient Egypt" are out now from Scholastic Children's Books.

Stop by Lou's awesome website at

You can also follow Lou on Twitter: