Ailsa Wild is an acrobat, whip cracker and teaching artist who wants to run away from the circus to become a writer. This is her first foray into the world of junior fiction, and it is simply spectacular.
Ailsa perfectly captures the nature of the curious and mischievous Squishy Taylor and conveys the frantic excitement and unbridled joy that is unique to childhood. She weaves a world so relatable and warm-hearted, you’ll reflect back on the stories again and again and always find something new.
I knew, when I began to write Squishy Taylor, that the main character would be a girl – because so far, that’s what I do! I love girl characters. I wanted Squishy to be a strong and adventurous girl, someone not very interested in how she looks. I’ve been thinking about how much attention gets paid to girls’ appearance, so in these books, I wanted to focus on something else – like how big and exciting the world can be.
I’m really interested in strong female characters. I was utterly obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer
– back when that was a thing. And for those of you who read Swallows and Amazons
, you should know that my adoration for Nancy Blackett is overwhelming. But, unlike Buffy, I’m not interested in fighting
. I wanted Squishy to be really physically capable, and strong in adversity, but I wanted to steer away from actual violence. Partly this is because my readers are children, but also I wanted to show that physical strength in iconic female characters doesn’t mean they need to karate-chop people.
I tried to write about Squishy so that if I changed every gender pronoun, and made ‘her’ a ‘he’, none of Squishy’s thoughts or actions would sound strange. A reader wouldn’t stop and wonder, ‘A boy
thought that?’ At the same time, I didn’t want anyone in Squishy’s world to think she was a strange kind of girl. I didn’t want to talk
about gender stereotypes within the story. I just wanted Squishy to have fabulous, ridiculous, super-fun adventures, being her own, brave self. Kind of like what I would wish for my readers.
While I was writing, I thought about how my dad used to try to change the genders of the children in The Magic Faraway Tree.
It didn’t work. It was so bad that when he did it, I hit him. It was so obvious
that he was trying to teach me something, and it meant I couldn’t be swept away in the story. I want for my readers what I wanted: the joy of being absorbed in the adventure without adult distractions.
While I was writing, I was also thinking about all the bookworm characters there are in children’s fiction (and actually in adult fiction) and I wanted to write someone who wasn’t a bookworm. Someone who’s much more interested in physical escapades and finding out what she’s capable of in the real world. I hope this means that kids who aren’t interested in books find a place in Squishy’s world. I hope that the kids who spend their lives on the monkey bars or climbing walls find something in here that they actually want to sit and read about – because this is a book about them.
About the Series
Meet the next BIG little thing in junior fiction: Squishy Taylor!
Genius solver of mysteries. The weirder the better!
Squishy Taylor (real name Sita) is a sneaky, cheeky 11-year-old who lives in an apartment with her dad, step-mum, twin step-sisters and half-brother, Baby.
The best thing about living in a huge apartment building is that there’s weird stuff galore going on! Whether it’s battling cranky Mr Hinkenbushel next door, or spying on Boring Lady in the building opposite, or helping the mysterious runaway ‘John Smith’ who is hiding out in the basement after stealing a tram (or so he says), Squishy Taylor is all over it!
A hilarious series for 6+ about solving mysteries, blending families and leaping to conclusions even quicker than a ninja-gazelle! Throughout February, if you buy both Squishy Taylor books, you'll only pay $20! This offer is available in stores and online
until 29 February 2016.