Our minds are all full of Summering and holidays. And what goes better with Summer holidays than good books? We have some CORKERS in your 4-7 boxes this month… as usual, excellent snacks, great gifts… AND amazing stories. This month, we are delighted to have The Pirate Mums in our 4-7 boxes. A story about a two mum family and a swashbuckling adventure. It gives us great pleasure to share our chat with author Jodie Lancet-Grant…
Why did you start writing books for children?
When my daughters started to realise that our two-mum family was different from other peoples, I turned to books to find some stories that reflected our lives. But there wasn’t very much choice around, so I decided that I would try to change that by writing my own.
How did you get your book out into the world?
I sent my manuscript out to various agents and eventually got taken on. The first book idea I had didn’t sell, so it was back to the drawing board. Once I hit on the idea of pirates, though, the story came together.
Why did you write this book?
I think it is vital that all children see themselves and their family set ups reflected in the stories they read. If they don’t, not only is it harder for them to learn to love books, but they also could easily start to think that people like them simply aren’t worth telling stories about. So I really wanted to write a book that showed a family with same sex parents in a low-key, almost incidental way, rather than being specifically about the fact that families come in different shapes and sizes.
But I also think books like this, which celebrate diversity under the radar, are important for kids with straight parents, and indeed for any parent that wants to teach their children how to belong in a loving, tolerant and accepting world.
Do you relate to any characters in your stories – which ones and in what way?
I relate to both the mums! Not only do I have a fondness for outlandish outfits, but I’d like to think I have the creativity and self-possession to save the day in a crisis.
What’s your favourite book and why?
There are so many I could choose – reading is my favourite thing to do – but I’m going to go for The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. It’s a novel set during the second world war, and it’s structured in three sections, each of which takes place slightly earlier than the one you’ve just read. In effect, as a reader, you’re taken back and forward in time as you read, and it’s intoxicating. Not only does Sarah Waters beautifully and convincingly conjure what life must have felt like in London in the 1940s, she also writes queer characters back into history.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always wanted to write; but I also had dreams of being an actor. My day job is in book publishing and I love it. I work in marketing for non-fiction books, and I get to enjoy glimpses into many different worlds and areas of expertise. The pre-Covid author lunches and launches were pretty fun too.
What do you want children to get from your books?
Mainly I want them to enjoy the story. For me, reading is a pleasure. Books are worlds to escape into. Whilst representation of diverse families and LGBTQ+ characters will always (I hope) be part of my writing, I never want the stories I tell to be overtly giving lessons. The story and the adventure should always come first.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
I was so happy to have children – our journey to starting a family was a rocky one – but I still felt strange about leaving my footloose, childfree life behind. I said as much to my best friend soon after my twins were born, and told her how I wished I could live the ten years before I’d had the babies all over again. She told me that that is probably exactly how I would feel in another ten years, but as going back in time is impossible, I should take appreciate every moment whilst it’s happening. It’s something I try my best to do.
Finish this sentence for us…Reading from diverse bookshelves….
… simply gives us a bigger selection of stories, and what could be better than that?’
A message to readers of your book?
Thank you for picking up The Pirate Mums. I hope you have enjoyed hanging out with Billy as he learns to accept his family and himself, and as his world explodes into a riot of rainbows.
Head here to get your hands on a box!