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An interview with Roderick O'Grady about Bigfoot Mountain and his favourite adventure books for kids

Bigfoot Mountain by Roderick O'Grady. Book cover and author photograph.

Our Cockatoo subscribers are heading off on a mountain adventure this month, where they might just meet a yeti! Bigfoot Mountain is an exciting adventure story with a fearless and compassionate heroine, Minnie. It also raises some important questions about how we look after the world around us and what it means to share it with the other creatures who also call it home. Here we quiz author Roderick O’Grady on what inspired the story and his favourite adventure books for kids.

What inspired you to write Bigfoot Mountain?

I unexpectedly found myself with a lot of spare time a few years ago. I jumped down the rabbit hole of Sasquatch ‘research’ via YouTube, bought all the books and found the evidence utterly compelling. I’d never written a book before or even tried but the threads of an idea came together somehow when I jotted down some structural headings, and once I started I had to finish it. So I did.

Why did you decide to set the book in a redwood forest?

To me they are the most majestic of trees, living to a ripe old age, up to two thousand years, if they’re lucky. The forest I’ve created from my imagination is made up of redwoods, pines, cedars, conifers, alders, oaks and arbutus amongst others. Though redwoods actually don’t like a climate that’s too wet. So I’ve taken some artistic licence there, as the other trees are all happy in a temperate rain forest. In the sequel, Bigfoot Island, it rains a lot! I like the visual juxtaposition of a thousand-year-old thickly-barked, twisting-tall, strong and proud redwood with some cheeky perky green ferns at its base.

Are any of the characters inspired by real people? 

Minnie’s character is inspired by traits I admire in my two children Gus and Oona. We spent most weekends when they were young on long walks around the Sussex countryside and sometimes we’d get up very early and sneak around the gullies and ravines, the heather and the gorse, observing deer, owls, badgers and snakes. Fun!

Do you believe that sasquatches really exist?

They absolutely, certainly do exist. I’ve done all the research, the hundreds of hours of YouTube viewing, the book studying, so you don’t have to. The evidence is overwhelming. Anyone who thinks they cannot be real because science hasn’t produced a body should take the time to delve and delve deep. I can recommend some books and one, and only one YouTube channel.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

I live frugally. I have one table. One chair. I write there.

Why did you choose to write books for children?

Good question. I’ve written stories I know my children would have enjoyed when they were young. I always read to them. That was a privilege I enjoyed deeply as a parent, and they delighted in stories of children venturing forth with kindness humour and resolve. I find it quite easy to put myself in the shoes of a 10 year-old boy or 12 year-old girl. I never seriously entertained the idea of writing for adults…

What was your favourite book as a child?

I liked Swallows and Amazons. But I don’t think I read much as a child- I was too busy running wild in the Badlands of the Surrey/Berkshire border.

What other adventure books for kids would you recommend our subscribers read next?

Definitely Pax by Sara Pennypacker and Varjack Paw by SF Said.

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