Tag Archives: Katrina Nannestad

Interview with Katrina Nannestad, author of Olive of Groves

k3Today I’m very excited to be joined by Katrina Nannestad, author of the enchanting new book, Olive of Groves.  You can read my review of Olive of Groves here on the blog.  I absolutely love this book and I wanted to ask Katrina a few questions about her book, her characters, and what we can expect next from Olive and the gang at Mrs Groves Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers.  Thanks for joining me Katrina!

  • What inspired you to write Olive of Groves?

‘How about a boarding school story?’ A simple suggestion from my publisher and the world of Groves came tumbling, rumbling, rollicking into my mind. The way a story takes shape can be a little mysterious, but I do remember starting with my students – talking animals for charm, naughty boys for action and circus performers for a touch of the exotic. The combination of all three was sure to lead to adventure, danger, disaster and hilarity. Mrs Groves, kind but bonkers, bumbled forth as the perfect headmistress – one who would not interfere too much with the students’ wild and woolly activities.

Somewhere in this creative process, Olive stepped forward – brave, clever, loyal and a little bit quirky. It was love at first imagining … despite the tartan skirts and long socks … or maybe because of

Once I started writing, the story seemed to take on a life of its own. I just went along for the ride, recording events as they happened, throwing in a pithy comment or two along the way when the need (or urge) arose!

  •  You have a delightful cast of characters in Olive of Groves.  Do you have a favourite character?

Such a difficult question! It’s a bit like asking a parent which child is their favourite.

Olive, of course, is my beloved heroine of whom I am very fond and proud. What a sweety-pie!

But I also adore Pig McKenzie, head boy and school bully. I have had an enormous amount of fun creating this Pig of Poor Character, developing his wicked schemes, fabricating his ridiculous tales of heroism. There is something thrilling about writing a truly despicable character, a villain who inspires us to boo and hiss and stamp our feet every time he sets his fat, pink trotter on the page. There is also something marvellous in knowing that his fate is in my hands!

  •  Which of your characters are you most like?

I hope that I am most like Olive. I always write something of myself into my heroines. Like Olive, I am a little bit clumsy, I can read and write big words like ‘conflagration’ and ‘arthritis’, I like choc-chip bickies and I strive to be brave, kind and loyal.

I fear, however, that I am more like Mrs Groves. I do bumble around the house muttering to myself, I am rather forgetful, I’d rather dive behind a potted palm or some heavy velvet curtains than confront troubling issues  and I do cry, ‘Goodness gracious me!’ many times each day.

  • Lucia Masciullo’s illustrations are wonderful. Are they just as you pictured your characters?

When I write a story, I develop a vivid mental picture of my characters and their world. To have someone else step in and present their own interpretation of that world could be rather troubling. Lucia, however, is a genius! When the roughs for Olive arrived, I thought, ‘Of course! That is just what my heroine would look like!’ From that point on, Lucia’s Olive was the picture in my mind as I was writing.

There is often a little bit of to-ing and fro-ing with roughs and the ideas around characters, but Lucia is incredibly perceptive and has embraced the craziness of Groves. Her illustrations have not changed the characters but have added to their personality and charm. I feel very privileged to be working with this wonderful artist.

  • You have a word-loving rat in your story called Wordsworth and it’s clear that you love playing with words.  Do you have a favourite word or words?

Yes! Don’t we all?

I love words that roll off my tongue, like ‘haberdashery’ and ‘brandish’.

I love words that are out-of-date and sound like something my granny might have said, like ‘evidently’ and ‘poppycock’.

I love ridiculous words, like ‘bowels’ and ‘squelch’.

I love words that contain an entire character description, like ‘prim’ and ‘unscrupulous’.

And I adore words that conjure up big pictures, like ‘flamboyant’ and ‘pandemonium’.

  • Chester the rat loves to collect buttons.  Do you collect anything?

I didn’t really set out to collect pigs, but I have quite a few hanging around. Perhaps people have seen a rusty metal pig in the garden and a wooden pig in the kitchen and they have thought, ‘Hey! I’d better buy Katrina a pig!’ … which is lovely … but also a little bit weird … As a result, I now have a large herd of pigs snuffling and snorting about the house.

There is also at least one pig in every book I have written!

  • Do you have any naughty boys, talking animals or circus performers in your life?

I grew up in a neighbourhood stuffed full of naughty boys, all running around on the tail of my brother’s hare-brained schemes. There were rotten plum fights, parachute jumps, flying fox disasters, wrestling matches, slingshot wars, firecracker explosions, bike stunts … and that was just in our back yard! Now, I am the mother of two boys, so the naughtiness lives on.

I am surrounded by talking animals! My dog, Olive, talks incessantly when we are out walking: ‘Look at that dog over there! Can we go and play with him? Can we? Huh? Can we?’ or ‘Oh no! There’s a bicycle headed our way! A bicycle! You know how they terrify me! Aaaaah!’ The birds in my garden are constantly arguing over branch rights – who got there first and who should take a hike – and whether or not it’s okay to use the birdbath as a toilet. And the nanny goat in the neighbour’s paddock shouts some very rude things to Olive every time we walk past.

Sadly, there are no circus performers in my life. I am, however, currently building a cannon in the shed, from which I plan to fire my husband and then my two sons.  I am expecting them to land somewhere on the South Island of New Zealand.

  • Do you have more adventures planned for Olive?

Absolutely! Books 2 and 3 are already written. This very morning, I received Lucia Masciullo’s cover illustration for the second Olive of Groves. It’s magical!  We are currently editing the third Olive of Groves. Books 2 and 3 are due for release next year in May and November, respectively. 2016 will be a busy time for Olive and her friends! The Pig of Evil Intent returns, too, so BEWARE!

 

 

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Win a copy of Olive of Groves

Olive of Groves by Katrina Nannestad and illustrated by Lucia Masciullo is an enchanting, entertaining and incredibly funny book, packed with imagination.  It is one of my favourite books of 2015 and you can find out why in my review here on the blog.

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Thanks to HarperCollins NZ I have a copy of Olive of Groves to give away.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Ange.

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Olive of Groves by Katrina Nannestad

There are only a handful of books each year that stand out and shine brighter than all the others.  Olive of Groves by Katrina Nannestad and illustrated by Lucia Masciullo is one of these books.  I want to shout about it from the rooftops and shove it into the hands of all the kids I meet.  It has shot to the top of the list of my favourite kids books of 2015.

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Olive has always dreamed of attending boarding school, but Mrs Groves’ Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers is not what she expected. To tell the truth, dear reader, it is not what anyone expected!

The headmistress is completely bonkers and Pig McKenzie, school bully and all-round nasty swine, is determined to make Olive’s life unbearable.

Olive, however, is clever, sweet and kind, and soon gains the loyalty and devotion of three rats, a short-sighted moose, a compulsive liar and a goose who faints at the sight of cherries.

But will friendship and wits be enough when Pig McKenzie puts his Truly Wicked Plan into gear? Or will Olive be cast out of Groves forever?

Olive of Groves is an enchanting, entertaining and incredibly funny book, packed with imagination.  I love everything about this book, from the crazy antics to the wonderful characters.  I picked it up thinking that the blurb sounded intriguing and I fell in love with it from the very first page.

It’s a story about doing the right thing and being the better person in the face of bullies, believing in yourself and being the best friend that you can be.  With a headmistress who is afraid of girls, Olive has to set out to prove that she is not a ‘simple, ordinary, everyday girl.’ Throughout the story we discover how extraordinary Olive is.  She is kind, sweet, brave and a very loyal friend.  Olive is the sort of girl that everyone would want to be friends with and I know that the kids reading this story will love her as much as I did.  Olives is certainly one of my favourite protagonists in any of the books I’ve read and I hope we get to read more of her adventures.

Olive is only one of the many wonderful characters that inhabit Mrs Groves Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers.  If you step through the doors you’ll meet Blimp (a rat with a large bottom), Wordsworth (a rat who loves words), Chester (a rat who loves buttons), Glenda the Goose (who faints at the thought of the nine times tables), Reuben the Rabbit (who loves nothing more than a good spin in the washing machine), Fumble (a shy talking moose), Mrs Groves (the ‘teeny-weeny bit odd’ headmistress), the villain of the story, Pig McKenzie, and many, many more.   I love all the characters, but my favourites are the three rats – Blimp, Wordsworth and Chester.

Katrina sweeps you up in the story with her lyrical writing and amusing dialogue.  She had me smiling all the way through the book and there were several parts where she had me laughing out loud.  I also Lucia’s illustrations.  They perfectly match this delightful story and bring Katrina’s characters to life.  My favourite illustration is on page 217, where we see Olive leading a whole bunch of the characters on a rescue mission.

I’m glad that Katrina has more adventures planned for Olive of Groves and I can’t wait to see what her and the gang get up to next.  Olive of Groves is the perfect present for 7-12 year olds so grab a copy for your children this Christmas.  I guarantee they will love it!

 

 

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