Behind the Three Little Pigs
Interview of Lynne Marie by RYS Member Lisa Horn
Congratulations on your latest published book The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project [click link for more info].
Tell us about your dedication and your interest in pigs – is that what inspired this book?
The book is mainly dedicated to my father (but also my mother) with a mention of my siblings. I grew up in pigtails and around pig tales. My father absolutely loves pigs and thinks they are the friendliest, smartest, cleanest animals around. As a child he used to hang out in the pig-house, play with them like dogs and ride them like horses. Since he had such a huge affinity for pigs everyone he knows gifts him pig things. He has an extremely extensive collection of pig bric-a-brac from all over the world.
What is your interest in fairy tales? Will we see more from you in the future?
My father’s father died when he was 9 and he had to go to work with his grandfather at a young age. So his grandfather taught him the rhymes and tales and he passed them down to us. But my father never told them to us correctly. He was the original creator of the fractured fairy tale! For example, he would start –There once were three little pigs, Lynne, Jean and John… LOL And then he would adapt the tale to fit his needs. He was constantly inserting us into tales, like my brother into this one: John, John, the Piper’s son – stole a pig and away he run. Of course, it’s really Tom Tom. So I guess he passed the love of pigs and tales down to me.
When using art notes, are there more when you are not familiar with the illustrator?
I have always used art notes. I try to be sparse with them and make sure they are essential to understanding the character / story. I’m not sure that I ever make them dependent on who is the illustrator. Basically if it's something a reader (including editor, critique group, agent, illustrator) needs to know, I leave it in. However, I have to admit that I didn’t have a lot of art notes in this manuscript as it was pretty straightforward. But I did sneak in some background notes:
[Note: The names of the Three Little Pigs are a nod to the originals -- Helga, Marcel and Etienne from the first ever version. Mr. Halliwell is named for James Halliwell-Phillipps, the first credited author of the Three Little Pigs.] I didn't want the reader to get hung up on where the names came from so I just dealt with it.
Here’s an actual art note that came from page 16/17: [Art: Hudson’s cone/fins are brick. Milo’s cone/fins are branches. Eloise cone/fins are bundled straw. Possibly Bibi peeking in the window.]
It does seem a bit obvious now (LOL), but it was imperative that those materials be used.
However, my illustrator, Wendy Fedan, is an amazingly talented professional and really nailed everything without many notes. When I saw the sample sketches, I knew she had pictured them perfectly. I loved the simple details she added, including the lace collar for Eloise and the bow for Bibi. There was really nothing I could say but that I love them so much!
What is your interest in fairytales and will we see more from you in the future?
Apart from being brought up on rhymes and tales, I did study them in college and found the topic absolutely fascinating! I’ve read originals, retellings, remakes, fractures and I also read about fairy tale theory / motifs. These theory books including The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettleheim and Out of the Woods, are two of my favorites. As you can see, Folklore and Fairy Tales, as well as Myths and Legends, are huge passions of mine!
I’d previously written an original fairy tale for Spider Magazine, called Little Rakoto and the Crocodile, which is a Malagasy retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with a boy child instead of a girl and a crocodile instead of a Wolf. I got the rights returned, and I love this story, so I hope to bring it to life again.
And of course, there’s Moldilocks and the Three Scares, which I hope will have a sequel (I love the sequel even more than the original), and I have another one pending that it’s not time to talk about yet. But I hope for more!
There are a lot of fairy tale characters in this book and even the fairy tale elementary school connection. Why did you add these other characters?
It was clear from the onset (the title and the first spread) that the Three Pigs were the main characters and, that there needed to be classmates. Also it was set in Fairy Tale Elementary, so it wouldn’t be all that distracting. Plus, they proved perfect for some comic relief. This was actually one of my favorite parts of writing this story – weaving them in with references to their tales.
How do you decide the number of characters in a book?
Usually you would try to have one main character and, perhaps, no more than 3-5 secondary characters. However, these were familiar characters so I was able to get away with more without being so confusing. And I was also able to flesh out the three main characters’ personalities, which is important, as well.
Main Character(s): Hudson, Milo and Eloise.
Antagonist: Bibi Wolfe
Supporting Character: Mother Goose
Peripheral Characters: Cinderella
Hansel and Gretel
The Little Mermaid
Character Nods: Mr. Halliwell
Little Red Riding Hood
It is quite a number, but again, they are basically all familiar and play roles in the story. I guess you can ask yourself if the story can do without them, and if the story is better leaving them in or not. With Mr. Halliwell, I like the inferred invitation to explore where fairy tales come from and to explore other versions of them. And with Little Red, I needed her basket to give related supplies to Bibi to build her rocket with.
What made you decide to have two boy pigs and one girl pig?
This is a good question. I really wanted to make it one boy pig, representing my brother John (who actually shot off a rocket in the living room as a child LOL), and two girl pigs, representing me and my sister Jean. However, I wanted the girl pig to be the victor. That smart and innovative female theme would only work if she was the loser in the previous tale, and, the only girl. So I followed the pattern set with Helga, Marcel and Ettiene in an old version, as it served my purpose best.
This book can be considered STEM because of the back matter. Have you written any other STEM stories?
I’m actually working on a series of STEM / SEL Fairy Tale books, and I am very excited about it. I’ve written the first one which is basically a retelling of Chicken Little. It touches upon “group hysteria” (SEL) and weather / weather myths (STEM and FOLKLORE).
How did you decide that this book needed back matter?
Well, I did go back and forth, but I did want it to be an introduction to STEM and scientific method for little ones, so I ultimately thought it would be important enough to keep in. A toss rocket is a fun little project for parents and kids to work on together, and, it has a lot of takeaway as far as learning the method in an easy format.
Would you consider writing a sequel to The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project? And how will you go about that?
Hmmm…I do have the proposed series, and the pigs pop up in the first book for that. But I haven’t come up with the concept for a specific "pigs" sequel yet. Although, I would love to, though, and I would especially love to work with Wendy Fedan again. I love her art – it was perfect for this book. We are actually working on another book beginning May. This one is a fracture of Greek Myth.
How long did it take you to write this book? Was it longer or shorter than any book you’ve written to date?
This answer may be a bit misleading, but...I started writing it on April 13 and worked on it tirelessly for six days until it was done. So it all came together quite fast. However, this doesn’t include pre-writing in my head, post-writing in my head, and letting it sit for over a year and a half before taking it out and brushing it off. I always say that each book, like each child (analogy if you are a parent), is different and they all take their own paths. That's why I am so fascinated with "the story behind the story" and why I host those features on my personal blog.
You seem to like fairy tale characters a lot! If you could be any fairy tale character, who would it be?
Ooh! What a fun question. If a classic princess, Belle from Beauty and the Beast. If a classic character, probably the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio - the Disney version of course. The original is just awful and disturbing, much like the original Peter Pan and so many others. But if I’m allowed to pick an original fairy tale character, Giselle from Enchanted, hands down.
What is coming from you next?
American Pie (illustrated by Dea Lenihan) is due April 14, 2022, and then, There Was A Blue Whale Who Tangled with Plastic (co-written by BJ Lee and illustrated by Sunny Choi) is coming out April 2023. And those are all that I can share right now.
AUTHOR BIO: Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling 2019 and Scholastic 2019) and Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World -- art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019), American Pie (Dancing Flamingo Press Spring 2022), and There Was a Blue Whale Who Tangled with Plastic (Dancing Flamingo Press Spring 2023) and more, forthcoming. She’s also the Owner and Administrator of RateYourStory.org, ThePictureBook Mechanic.com and is a Travel Agent. She currently lives on a lake in South Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin, where she can be found daydreaming and fracturing fairy tales. Lynne Marie is represented by Marisa Cleveland ofwww.theseymouragency.com. Visit her website at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com. Follow her on Facebook here and on twitter here.
INTERVIEWER BIO: Lisa M. Horn has worked as a television producer in New York City andCalifornia. Her production credits include “A Current Affair,” “Sally Jessy Raphael Show,” , “Montel Williams Show,” and “To Tell the Truth.” She also served as an Educational Consultant on the BBC’s Hope Works TV Project for Children. She has a master’s degree in Communication Disorders. As a nationally licensed and certified Speech-Language Pathologist, she has previously worked with children who have speech/language and developmental delays in South Florida school districts.