‘...Be careful at the door!
You never know who might come knocking with his giant paw…’
The Lion in our Living Room features a father who is at the centre of the story. This fun-filled rhyming picture book celebrates the bond between parent and child and what it is to be a father. Of course, I can relate to that.
Emma Middleton’s theatrical background is evident with the rhythm and musicality of the story.
Briony Stewart’s beautifully detailed illustrations provide the reader with clues along the way.
The Lion in our Living Room is a fun book to read aloud and is sure to make you smile.
Welcome to my blog today, Emma. It’s great to have you here.
In the early stages of writing The Lion in our Living Room, I was inspired by the phrase, ‘I’m coming to get you..!’ and the delightful excitement that follows. This evolved into a celebration of the special role fathers play in the lives of their children, and their unique talents of physical play.
I pictured a father playing with his children, chasing them and giving them exhilarating piggy back rides. Imagining the father as a mighty, roaring lion seemed even more fun, and so, The Lion in our Living Room was born.
I have felt very honoured during the collaborative process, as I have had the opportunity to work with two of Australia’s top editors, Clair Hume and Davina Bell from Affirm Press. Clair has involved me at every step of the book creation process and she is an outstanding talent at every level of publishing.
The narrative is finely balanced with the visual. It was a joy to see Briony Stewart’s stunning and highly detailed illustrations bring the story to life.
What inspired you to write this book?
I distinctly remember the moment of inspiration when I was thinking about the emotions of childhood. It is a time of expectancy, and I wanted to explore the thrill of anticipation. The phrase came into my mind, ‘I’m coming to get you!’ This was the catalyst for the story. I wanted to depict this excitement with the lion games played between father and child.
The Lion in our Living Room presents a positive role model of fatherhood. Is this something you set out to portray in your story?
To be honest, this wasn’t my initial objective. I was trying to express a thrilling experience of childhood, and what could be better than piggy backs and lion rides from a loving father figure. I am delighted that it has evolved into an inspiring depiction of fatherhood, as the important role fathers play in families is often underestimated by our society.
You have a background in theatre – how does this influence your approach to picture books?
To me there is a huge similarity between theatre and writing for children; rhythm, pace, story, drama, emotion and movement. Once theatre is in your blood, it remains with you forever. I hope to involve children in theatrical presentations of my stories.
You are also an illustrator yourself? Does this affect your writing?
I believe so. As I write I visualise the pictures telling their half of the story, so the words do not need to spell out every element. This is one reason why I am completely enamoured with picture books. I believe it is the only true genre, where the pictures are an essential ingredient to the story telling.
How did you feel when you first saw Briony Stewart’s illustrations?
I know how talented Briony Stewart is as an illustrator and author, however I was really blown away by her illustrations. The detail adds so much to the book and the visual clues she includes are delightful, such as her magnificent lion shaped topiary, with leaf claws and a poignant flower eye.
We know how important it is for children to have stories read aloud to them. How do you see The Lion in our Living Room contributing to this cause?
One of the important jobs of a picture book author is to make the words sound wonderful when they are read aloud. In fact, in my early drafts, I often get carried away with the sound of the words and forget that the story actually needs to make sense! In other words I hear the rhythm of the story first, and the plot grows from this point of inspiration.
I aspire to be one of the many Australian authors involved in the community, bringing my story to life. But of course, there is nothing better than a loving parent sharing the experience of story with their child. This is where the life-long love of book begins.
Thank you for visiting my blog today, Emma. You should be proud! Well done and congratulations.
The Lion in our Living Room is Emma Middleton’s debut picture book and is published by Affirm Press, with whimsical illustrations by Briony Stewart.
Emma Middleton is an author and illustrator of stories for children. Emma’s passion is to create children’s literature that holds a sense of wonder, delight and unlimited possibility.
Before delving into the world of children’s books, Emma danced professional ballet which saw her dance for the Vienna Ballet. And then post-retirement, Emma taught ballet at her own ballet school, to a generation of children.
Now, Emma feels she has found in children’s literature, a place where her two past worlds have a natural creative collision. Her books combine her deeply-valued experiences of childhood with the drama, rhythms and colour of ballet.
In addition, Emma has illustrated Clover’s Big Ideas written by Georgie Donaghey (Little Pink Dog Books).
Written by: Emma Middleton
Illustrated by: Briony Stewart
Publication Date: 1st October 2017
Hardback: 32 pages
Publisher: Affirm Press: www.affirmpress.com.au