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Interview with ‘My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish’ middle-grade author Mo O’Hara

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Originally from America, Mo moved to London because she wanted to live abroad but spoke no foreign languages. After a brief and unsuccessful stint as a serving wench at the Tower of London Mo found work as an actress and comedy performer. It was when she toured the UK as a storyteller that she started writing for kids. Mo’s debut novel, ‘My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish’ was published by Macmillan in the UK, the USA and Germany this year. It’s follow up ‘My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish the Sea-quel’ came out in the UK in July 2013 and will be out in March in the US. ‘My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish- Fins of Fury’ will be out in Jan 2014 in the UK.

For what age audience do you write?

I mostly write funny books for kids that are between 6 and 11.

Henry: ‘Fins of Fury’ is clearly a play on the Bruce Lee movie, Fists of Fury. Are there any plans for a tie-in with AMC’s The Walking Dead? The Wading Dead, perhaps?

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is 'My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish- The SeaQuel'. It's been described as Finding Nemo meets Shawn of the Dead. It's a classic story of a boy and his undead fish but Frankie (the zombie goldfish) is both funny and fierce.

Henry: Finding Nemo meets Shawn of the Dead!!! Can I just say, this is why I love writing and reading kid’s books. You’ve inspired me. My next project will be a dystopian board book: The Very Hunger Games Caterpillar.

What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?

I hope my readers get a good story, some good laughs and no paper cuts. These are all important for a positive experience of a book.

Henry: As my friend Ame Dyckman says, papercuts are “only a flesh wound.”

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

I find starting the story the most difficult. I think I have an inbuilt fear of a blank page or a blank screen. Once I have something down, no matter how rough it is, I can keep going and make it better. I will book dentist appointments though to avoid starting a new story (and that's pretty bad).

Henry: I agree. Revising is much easier than getting that first draft out of my head.

What is a powerful lesson you've learned from being a writer?

There are stories everywhere: open your ears and your eyes. Also, just believe you can do it.

Henry: Quite so. I was presenting to an elementary school class, and I noticed that one boy had one sneaker that was totally shredded. Not worn and in need of replacement, but as if it had exploded. When the plot gels, I will write The Boy with the Exploding Sneakers. Brandon Sanderson said his book ‘Steelheart’ came to him when he was frustrated by traffic gridlock.

Read the full interview at Henry's blog on KidLit, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy books.

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