Barbara Else is the creator of the Land of Fontania, the magical setting of her award-winning The Traveling Restaurant and her latest book, The Queen and the Nobody Boy. Her books are full of magic, adventure, pirates, spies, and wonderful characters. I had a few questions about Fontania and its inhabitants and Barbara very kindly answered them.
- What’s your favourite place in Fontania?
I’m a city girl so it has to be the City of Spires. But I’d like to visit the High Murisons. There (so I have heard) live the only wild bears in Fontania. They have a growl deeper than any other living creature.
- The Um’binnians have strange names and speak quite differently than the Fontanians. How did you come up with them?
The name for Um’Binnia just typed out under my fingers when I was wondering what to call the neighbouring country. It seemed to me that a good way to identity the Um’Binnian characters would be to use commas in their names too. They speak the same language as Fontanians but, just as all English speaking countries have different accents, I thought the Um’Binnians would sound different too.
- The Queen and the Nobody Boy features some wonderful new characters, creatures and machines. What is your favourite creation from this story?
I love Hodie for his courage and determination. And I love the squirrel for its single-mindedness. But I think Princessa Lu’nedda is the character I cherish the most. She’s very troubled by her father, seems far too cutesy and fluffy at first, but is full of courageous surprises.
And I’m very pleased with the wind-train.
- If you were the Queen of Fontania what would your first royal proclamation be?
‘Royal Proclamation, Part the First: Every city, town and village in the Kingdom of Fontania shall have a library stocked to the brim with books to suit each child.
Royal Proclamation, Part the Second: At the end of each year of successful reading every child shall be rewarded with a cake shaped like the Travelling Restaurant.’
- Can we look forward to more Tales of Fontania?
I’m certainly playing around with more ideas.
Barbara’s follow-up to The Traveling Restaurant, called The Queen and the Nobody Boy, is out now in NZ. It’s another wonderful story, set in the world of Fontania. You can read my review of The Queen and the Nobody Boy here on the blog.