Interview with Anneliese Emmans Dean by Tayler Beale (age 12)
What inspired you to write a poetry book about bugs?
I've always written poems. Ever since I was about 10 years old. But I never set out to write a book of poems about bugs. It all started by chance, when I got a digital camera that could take close-up pictures. I started pointing the camera at the tiny minibeasts that were flitting around my garden. When I viewed the photos on my computer screen I was amazed by what I saw. I could see each creature in such detail, and they all seemed to have a distinct character of their own. I was inspired to find out more, and inspired to write poems about them. And before I knew it, I had written lots and lots and lots of minibeast poems ...
Why did you choose to have poems and factual information side by side in your book?
Some grown-ups think that science and poetry (and giggling) don't mix. I think they mix really well. I think that fun, scientifically accurate poems can actually be a very good way to learn and remember scientific facts.
I wanted to have the poem and factual information side by side in my book so that readers could easily toggle between the two, identifying and learning more about the scientific facts that lie within each poem and discovering when and where to go out and find the relevant bug for real.
How did find all the information you needed to write this book?
I found some of the information in books, and some of the information online. But most helpful of all were the many experts - minibeast researchers in universities and museums across the country - who answered my questions and told me all sorts of amazing things about the minibeasts I was finding in my garden.
It turns out that minibeast experts are very enthusiastic about the minibeasts they study, and are really keen to share their knowledge with other people. I am very grateful to every single one of them (as I mention on the Acknowledgements page of my book). I learned lots and lots from them.
If you'd like to meet some minibeast experts, then I recommend joining The Bug Club and/or looking out for any insect fairs/festivals near where you are (like the RES Insect Festival that's held in York. A good place to encounter experts online is via ispot.
What’s your favourite kind of bug that you have put in your book?
Oh dear - I think that's probably an impossible question to answer! I find them all fascinating ...
How did you find all the images? They’re quite good. Did you take them yourself?
I did take all the photos myself. I'm pleased you like them. I took most of the photos in my garden. It's only a small garden - 8m x 8m - but I spend a lot of time there, just looking. The last two lines of the last poem in my book are:
'Take the time, To stand and stare'
and that's definitely my top tip for finding interesting minibeasts in your garden (or park or playing field). And if you have a camera or smartphone with you, you'll be able to take photos of what you find, just like I do.
This week, by standing and staring in my garden, I've found and photographed an amazingly hairy caterpillar, a beautiful yellow Brimstone butterfly and some fabulous shield bugs. Oh, and I watched a spider carefully wrap up in silk a ladybird that had got caught in its web. Fascinating!
I hope you find - and photograph - equally interesting minibeasts by standing and staring where you are.