This month we sent our subscribers off to Paris with The Pear Affair, a wonderful adventure story that roams across the French capital, from the deepest, gloomiest underground tunnels to the smartest haute couture boutiques. We were completely gripped by the mystery of Nell’s past and were excited to find out more about what inspired the book from author Judith Eagle.
What inspired you to write The Pear Affair and to set it in Paris?
A few years ago, I read a newspaper article about the Catephiles (a group of urban explorers) who make it their mission to explore and map the 180 miles of tunnels and caves that stretch below Paris. The tunnels are off limits to the public, but nevertheless, there are still access points all over the city, via manholes, school basements, crypts and the metro. The article immediately fired my imagination. It described how the police had stumbled upon an underground cinema, complete with comfortable chairs, electric lights, a working toilet (using water syphoned off from the fountains in the Trocadero Gardens above) and a giant cous-cous pot! It made me think – what would it be like if children had access to the underground, where they could make the most marvellous dens and have a brilliant time without any adults to spoil the fun.
Who is your favourite character in the book and why?
I am fond of all my characters, but in particular I love Coco Swann who is so glamorous but has come from such humble beginnings and Emil who lives in Belleville. He is full of beans, incredibly loyal and so proud of his big sister, Colette.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
I tend to write sitting on my bed, although my daughter is always telling me off and recommending I sit at a desk – better for my posture, she says.
Why did you choose to write books for children?
The books I read as a child are the ones that bought me the most joy and had the most impact on me. They still jostle for space on my bookshelves and I only have to look at the spines to feel a kind of happy contentment! I feel very close to the person I was aged ten and I cannot imagine writing books for any other age.
What was your favourite book as a child?
The honest answer is that I didn’t have one favourite. I had very eclectic reading taste and read anything that caught my fancy. I adored Astrid Lindgren – she is most famous for creating Pippi Longstocking but she wrote a lot of other brilliant books too. I was hooked on the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, I laughed out loud at Just William by Richmal Crompton and I loved anything set in Victorian times that featured orphans, workhouses and wicked matrons.
Do you have any top book recommendations for our subscribers?
I recently read a wonderful and utterly unique book called Storm by Nicola Skinner. I also love the author Kate DeCamillo, particularly the Raymie Nightingale trilogy. Last, but not least, for classic, perfect storytelling, I recommend one of my all-time favourites, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken.
Find out more about our monthly deliveries of happy post for 5 to 11 year olds here.