From Pemberley to Little Horsted; an interview and Giveaway with Julia B. Grantham

Hello! Cass and I are very happy to welcome the very charming Julia B. Grantham on our blog today. Many Jane Austen fans know her as the author of the beautiful Mr Darcy’s Guide to Pemberley. She also happens to be a friend of ours. Here we are together for the paperback launch of The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen in Bath!

Julia has a new children’s book called A Mole Like No Other so we thought we’d ask her a few questions about it and her process. Stay tuned below for instructions on a promotion for the book AND a giveaway!

Julia! Welcome to Tabby Cow. 

[JB] Thank you very much for inviting me!

First of all, please tell us about your book! 

[JB] Gosh! Where to start! My book might seem unusual for your readers, because, on the surface it is a children’s book. But, I hope, as the readers dive a little deeper, they’ll find that it is a book for adults and children to read and enjoy together.

It is a story of a toy mole, who in the beginning doesn’t even have a name. The girl, he was given to as a present, threw him under the bed with the words “an ugly old mole”. Eventually he ended up in a box of unwanted toys and spent quite a bit of time there. But, as it says on the cover, “our mole believed that there were better things in store for him and waited for them to happen.”

In a way, this very much describes the situation we’ve all in at the moment, wouldn’t you agree? Locked in our homes, hoping for the better things in our  future…

Mercifully for the mole, he found a new home, new family and many new friends; and although he hadn’t ventured very far from the garden – he found plenty of adventures too! Perhaps, another lesson for us all – life is full of adventures, if we allow them to happen, even if only in our own backyard.

Interestingly, when I started writing the book nothing of this was happening in the world – no pandemic, no lockdowns – because I started it 7 years ago. But the message was the same then as it is now – stay optimistic and better things will happen to you.

What theme or message did you want to convey in your story? Why?

[JB] Apart from what I’ve said already, the main theme is, perhaps, finding your place in the world. The little mole, once he’d got his new home and a name – Moley, is very keen to be heard, to be noticed, and he makes some mistakes trying to achieve it, mainly because he is too eager to prove himself. But he is a very helpful mole, who is always the first to rush to help his friends, if they are in trouble. He gradually learns the value of teamwork, learns to rely upon his friends and believe in himself too. He actually learns a lot of important lessons in the course of the story – lessons that will be helpful to children in many tricky situations – like starting in a new school, moving home, learning new skills, looking after their personal safety and many others.

What was one of your favorite children’s books as a child? as a parent?

[JB] As a child I moved pretty quickly to books that nowadays we would call “young adult”, perhaps. I absolutely adored Dumas’s  “The Three Musketeers” and read it dozens of times. Interestingly, I came to English children’s literature as an adult, reading and re-reading Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, Paddington, Winnie-the-Pooh. But my absolute favourites amongst the books for children are the Harry Potter series and Watership Down. I’ve just said this and thought, that, arguably, these two are also created for adults and children alike.  

What is a writing quirk you have?

[JB] I write with pen and paper. Can’t write directly into the computer. Maybe that is why it took me seven years to complete my book? 

What was it like switching from a book like Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley to a children’s book? Which was more difficult?

[JB]  Mr Darcy has managed to squeeze himself in the middle of Moley’s writing. So, perhaps it is fair to say that three years from Moley’s seven were dedicated to Mr Darcy. I guess, Mr Darcy is such an irresistible character that he finds the way into one’s mind, doesn’t he? Funnily, I am such a huge fan of Jane Austen in general, and Pride & Prejudice in particular (find me on facebook here and here) that lots references to P&P book and P&P95 adaptation ended up in my Moley’s book. Dedicated Janeites told me that they chuckled many a time having come across some familiar lines while reading “A Mole Like No Other”. I wonder who can spot them all?

I think, some parallels between Mr Darcy’s Guide and Moley’s book happen on a subconscious  level. To start with – both books take place in beautiful English gardens, (of different sizesI need to point out) but of similar enchanting qualities. Both Mr Darcy (in the mini-series) and Moley happened to end up in a pond at one point. There is a lot of misplaced pride in my book, and plenty of misunderstandings. I guess – the books you love always influence you, even when you least expect it.

If you were a children’s book character, what character would you be (in your own book or an older classic?)

[JB] In my own book I am definitely Moley. Well, and Mummy, a little bit. Mummy is an interesting character, because, although humans don’t know about the hidden life of toys and animals in the garden, I think, Mummy knows and understands much more than she lets on.

In other books I always associate myself with characters who are loyal, bright, often with a sharp tongue, who love books and learning in general. Can you think of a couple? 

What was the easiest character to create/and who was the hardest to figure out?

[JB] It all started with Moley, so he was, perhaps, the easiest. Even though he is the most complex one in the book. You see, all the toys and animals, who I describe in the book, are real: Moley, Owlie, the dogs, the dinosaurs, the ducks, even Gordon – the limping pigeon. So, it was easy to write about them, because I knew them so well. Humans were more difficult, because I didn’t want to base them on our family. But, luckily, the humans don’t participate in the story that much.

I must mention also my wonderful illustrator. You can’t imagine how difficult it is to find the illustrator that is “just right”. It took me a long time – but I’ve found the amazing Carol Wellart. She loves painting nature and animals and I was sending her hundreds of photographs of the toys, animals, our garden, the pond – everything. And she’s created the pictures that fit the story perfectly and ring true to me every time. It was a very happy collaboration of like-minded people.

Where can we order a copy?

[JB] It is on Amazon WORLDWIDE. I love the fact that this way the book can reach every corner of the globe. At least – that is how I imagine it.

Currently it is on special offer – only £4.99 in the UK, or $7.50 in the US in large paperback format. The prices are adjusted accordingly in other countries.

For this blog appearance I’ve created a special Kindle promotion – get it FREE – expires in 2 days. (So that is the 25th and the 26th only friends!)

It is very easy to find – just search for Julia B. Grantham

Direct links:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Mole-Like-No-Other/dp/B08TFSQWLB/

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mole-Like-No-Other/dp/B08TFSQWLB/

[JB] Also – Moley and Friends have their own Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AMoleLikeNoOther and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/moley_and_friends/

Thank you Julia, that was awesome. I think I need to know more about Gordon, the limping pigeon!!! We’re so excited for you and can’t wait to see where Moley takes you!

Finally, we are delighted to announce that Julia is offering a giveaway of the physical book here to our Tabby Cow readers! One lucky commenter will receive A Mole Like No Other (the contest is open internationally)! To enter*, please comment with the answer to this question: If you were a children’s book character, what character would you be?

*Entries must be made before midnight GMT on March 2nd. The drawing will be done on March 2nd and the winner announced shortly after! If the prize is not claimed within 5 days, a new name will be drawn.

 

17 thoughts on “From Pemberley to Little Horsted; an interview and Giveaway with Julia B. Grantham

  1. Lovely interview, ladies.

    If I were a children’s book character I’d like to be Mrs Brown in the Paddington stories. I think he’s adorable, so I’d love to look after him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LOL re both Mr Darcy and Moley both ending up in a pond!

    I love Paddington, Harry Potter and Winnie the Pooh! Not sure who I’d want to be though. Not a bear and Hogwarts was – quite frankly – rather dangerous by the end!

    Think I’ll say Matilda. Love Roald Dahl’s books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All the books I love too!!!
      Yes, ‘re LOL – I didn’t even once think of the similarities until after the book had been published. 🙂

      Like

  3. Hmmm. I always loved and identified with Anne Shirley, but I don’t actually think I am much like her in real life. But part of me really wanted to be like her…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the quote, “our mole believed that there were better things in store for him and waited for them to happen.” What a perfect synopsis of how we should all be thinking right now through this pandemic!

    If I was a children’s book character, I would love to be Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables series. She is passionate about everything – nature, her friendships, her family, and even her schoolwork. She truly is a kindred spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve always identified with Hermione Granger’s, “Honestly, hasn’t anyone besides me read ‘Hogwarts: A History’?” So I’m going to go with Hermione from Harry Potter. Nerdy girls, unite!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely! I am with you, sister! 🙂
      Now, a serious question. Has Hogwarts, the History been published? I don’t have it.

      Like

  6. That is a difficult question. How about Sara in The Little Princess? It has been a long time since I read that but there is a story which is a mash up of P&P and The Little Princess which I loved. Thanks for a chance to win this book. I have grandchildren with whom I can share it.

    Like

  7. This was fun! Ada and Cass, I just adore that top photo of you two.

    Julia, BRAVA… TWO books… wow. And, not that Moley must compete with our Darcy, but, there’s something in the eyes…

    Your illustrator, as I’ve mentioned before, is simply outstanding. I’m sure you’re glad you fought the good search for the perfect artist. Her work is captivating.

    If I must pick one heroine, it must be Fern. That wonderful strong loving hopeful friend to Some Pig, an amazing mother spider, and all the barn folk. She inspired me as a child, and still does. Runners-up are Caddie Woodlawn, Christopher Robin, Miss Rumphius, so many.

    May Moley be enjoyed and remembered by children and adults around the globe, also. Congratulations!

    Karylee

    And I’m with Ada… limping?… 🥺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You need to read the book so learn about Gordon! 😉

      Thank you for all the kind words! I appreciate them very much. J xx

      Liked by 1 person

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