David MacPhail and Richard Morgan on Velda, the Awesomest Viking and funny books for kids

Velda the Awesomest Viking and the Voyage of Deadly Doom by David MacPhail and Richard Morgan. Book cover and author picture.


This month our Parakeet subscribers are setting sail on the high seas on a voyage of deadly doom with Velda, the most awesome Viking you are likely to meet! Velda might be small, but she is certainly mighty and nothing will stop her from embarking on some pretty terrifying tasks in order to prove she deserves a place on the dragonship Valkyrie. We loved the colourful cast of characters she meets and the brilliant illustrations too. Here author David MacPhail and illustrator Richard Morgan tell us all about what inspired Velda and which funny books for kids they would recommend you read next.

What inspired you to create Velda the Awesomest Viking and the Voyage of Deadly Doom?

[David MacPhail] Velda is an important character in another book series I write, Thorfinn the Nicest Viking. I thought it was about time that Thorfinn’s fierce, high-kicking bestie went off and had her own adventures.

[Richard Morgan] I’ve been drawing Velda for a long time now but when I first looked for inspiration I looked close to home. My daughters are a heavy influence, one has a huge amount of red curly hair and the other is very Viking-like and won't take prisoners.

What research did you do when you were writing/illustrating the book?

[DM] Lots of reading, mainly about Viking history and legends! I love mixing in little titbits of history into the story, so one of the characters is a Celt, one is a Pict and one is from Greenland. I also managed to squeeze in a few legends. For example, Odin’s lightning bolts, and a fierce wolf named Fenrir.

[RM] Living near lots of amazing museums means I can look at real Viking things and often sketch in my notebook. The site at Sutton Hoo is my favourite.

Are any of the characters inspired by real figures from history?

[DM] Yes! The character of Ethelfled, the Saxon Queen of Kent, is inspired by a real-life figure called Aethelfled, Alfred the Great’s daughter, who was an incredibly fierce military leader. She fought the Vikings and took back huge chunks of England that the Vikings had conquered.

[RM] All my characters are inspired by people around me in my everyday life, Viking lookalikes are everywhere. So if you know me you might be in a book already!

Do you have a favourite place to write/illustrate?

[DM] In the peace and quiet of my study, which faces out onto the woods. The only interruption is often my dog, who goes bananas and starts barking whenever he spots a squirrel in the trees. It’s quite annoying actually, as there are a LOT of squirrels! 

Why did you choose to write/illustrate books for children?

[DM] I tried writing stories for grownups, but I always ended up putting in jokes, and my sense of humour has not really evolved beyond the age of 9.

What was your favourite book as a child?

[DM I had SO many! I would have to go with either Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones or The Reluctant Vampire by Eric Morecambe, (who was one half of the famous TV duo Morecambe and Wise, and in my view possibly the funniest man in history).

[RM] Has to be Paddington Bear. Who can't help but love bears and marmalade jam?!

Which funny books for younger readers would you recommend our subscribers read next?

[DM] Check out Mort the Meek and the Raven’s Revenge by Rachel Delahaye, or There’s a Werewolf in my Tent by Pamela Butchart.

Do you think you would be a good Viking? Why or why not?

[DM] I’d quite enjoy all the feasting, but I’m not sure I’d enjoy all the fighting battles or the sailing about. I once got seasick on the ferry to Calais!

[RM] YES! All that sailing and amazing adventures... Every day should be an adventure, we owe it to our inner Viking!

Like the sound of Velda the Awesomest Viking and the Voyage of Deadly DoomGrab a copy along with our bespoke activity pack - available in our shop while stocks last!

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