Whilst at the launch of Fleur Hitchcock's new book, Murder in Midwinter, I was delighted to meet Maudie Smith, author of the 'Opal Moonbaby' stories. Maudie kindly agreed to have a quick chat with me!
'I didn't start out to be a writer,' she told me. Maudie's first carreer had been in acting and she worked on lots of plays written for children.
When one of her daughters was 8, Maudie didn't know what to suggest for her to read next. With the typical friendship issues amongst girls at this age in mind, Opal Moonbaby was born.
At this time, Maudie had started her MA in writing at Bath Spa on the one year course and was writing her book ast the same time.
'I would have been lost without the MA,' she told me. And the closeness of the relationships she formed whilst part of it were obvious throughout the evening!
A picture book called ' Milly and the Mermaids' followed the year after and two more Opal Moonbaby stories.
The three 'Opal Moonbaby' stories are about two very different girls: Martha- cautious, thoughtful and never wanting another friend and Opal- a lively, impusive alien visiting Earth on a mysterious mission. These books have now been released in new editions with new names and new illustrations. Looking closely at issues around friendships and family, this series makes great reading- for girls and boys.
Having concluded the Opal series, Maudie wanted to write something different. A stand alone story called The Cake, The Wolf and the Witch' was what followed.
Max is less than thrilled to realise that he and his new brother and sister (with totally bonkers names) are expected to burst out of a huge model cake at the end of the wedding speeches and surprise everyone. But when the cake doesn't end up where Max expects and the children find themselves in a strange landscape facing a talking wolf, Max decides to believe it's all a dream.
The children are, however, in the Land of Ever After and it's in trouble, needing Max's help. But Max doesn't believe in fairy tales- so how will they get home?
'The Cake, the Wolf and the Witch' is a great read, full of familiar characters from fairy stories- but not as you know them! As with all good quests, those undertaking them learn much about themselves along the way and Max, Nettle and Wild (there're the names!) have their own happy ever after in the end.
Maudie has another book coming out next March called 'Bird Girl'. Again aimed at the upper primary age range, I asked whether she would start to write for the teen or YA market as her daughters grew older.
'I'd love to, but I loved books most until I was about 11, so I am still drawn to that age for writing,' she replied.
That's fine by us...
You can find out more about Maudie and her writing on her website: http://www.maudiesmith.co.uk/