Interview with Picture book Writer: Nadia Shireen [Part 1]

What are the odds? That I feature Ms Nadia Shireen’s brilliant ‘Good little wolf’ on my blog only a few days ago, and then I meet her in the flesh the very same week, at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival.

However, when I inquire if I could ask her a few questions, I see a cloud of grey hover over her eyelids, before she agrees *Gulp*. Was I prepared? Not in the slightest, could I change her mind that I wasn’t just any old blogger, doing it for blogging sake- but very much for my own, on a purely selfish ‘Because I wanna know’ basis, I dunno, but I was gonna give it a good bash!

Weirdly enough, we kick off by having a chin wag about what it is I’m doing, as a writer? Uh huh, she wants to know, I fiddle getting my recording aparatus out of my bag, and tell her that I was just ‘literally trying to soak it all up’ she nods and says it’s a good way to go, then with a seamless mobilious click, we get started…  

Has your previous jobs in law and music journalism, influenced the work you produce as a childrens writer?

‘I guess…Erm, I used to work for a music magazine called Smash hits…’

‘Oh my god that was one of my favourite magazines, I used to buy it religiously.’


‘Yes!’ *She has no idea, I remember a particular HOT poster of Bros hanging on my door, which I used to kiss before bed…Every night* 

‘So yeah, I was obsessed with it *Smash hits* from a young age from about 7 or 8, and it’s interesting because that particular era from like 1986 to 1989 was its high point. It had its own idiosyncratic language and sense of humor…It was sharp, cheeky and very funny, erm and I’ve realised that phrases like ‘What the jiggins!’ in the Bumble bear book is sooo Smash hits, like it’s such a 80’s, 90s thing to write.

I think that by working in magazines and music journalism, things did manage to seep through into to my subconscious, in ways that I didn’t realise, and of course I also love music, which is why there’s that tongue and cheek reference in my new book ‘The cow who fell to earth’ and David Bowie’s ‘The man who fell to earth’.

‘ARRR I see…Very clever.’

‘And the little black star on Dave-the cows- T-shirt was the name of Bowie’s last album, which is just a little nod to that….’ 

‘You use animals a lot in your work, where does that’s come from?’

‘It’s down to a simple thing, which is that I’m better at drawing animals then I am drawing humans, the other thing is I’ve always been attracted to animal characters -Not in that way- *laughs*. But as a kid I was drawn to the books with the animals in them, not the books with the humans, because the humans didn’t really look like me’ 

‘Hmm…Would you consider depicting human characters?’

‘Well funnily enough, I am writing something at the moment, that just may be a bit different to what I’ve done before’.

My eyebrows have now reached new heights, and yes of course I want to know more, but I’ve pushed my jammy skills to their full extent and know that like the rest of you, I’ll just have to wait to find out.

‘Thank you Nadia!’

‘No worries, my pleasure’

What d’you reckon, do you think I got her on side? Honestly it was so relaxed, and enjoyable to do, definitely could do this as a job, I’m wasted I tell you, WASTED!!! Haaaa!

Find out in the second part of this interview next week, why Nadia is saying stuff like this ‘You see Muslim, brown women on the news, or behind a shop or at home or whatever, you don’t normally get to see them doing other things’ and other stuffs like this….

‘They were always sh*t, badly produced, badly illustrated, and boring…’ 

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