top of page
  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Interview: Emma Wood and Carla Martell talk about Tulip and Doug

Introducing a new dynamic duo, Emma Wood and Carla Martell, a very talented pairing. New author Emma Wood has written a relatable, quirky and very funny story. Tulip and Doug is a heartwarming tale about an unusual friendship shows kids that there are all sorts of friendships, and you don’t have to be popular to be happy. The fresh palette of Martell’s quirky artwork will charm all ages.

Emma and Carla talk to NZ Booklovers.

Emma Wood

What inspired you to write this book?

I was listening to a podcast, and the podcast guest shared that as a child, they had a rock friend called John that they pushed around in a pram. This struck me as a charming and funny idea for a picture book. I then thought a potato might be even more unexpected than a rock. I started thinking about the limitations of having a potato friend - that other children might find it a bit strange, and that a potato wouldn't be the most permanent pal. The story of adventurous Tulip and her dear, ill-fated Doug grew from there.

What research was involved?

Nothing in terms of the story content, but I researched picture books before I began writing Tulip and Doug. In fact, Tulip and Doug was the sixth picture book manuscript I'd written, and the first to be published. I am grateful to online writing communities and resources for helping me to develop my craft - there is so much accessible information out there. And, of course, there's no substitute for reading lots of contemporary picture books.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

I don't have a particular writing schedule or routine. However, I like to work on several stories at a time so I can dip in and out of each one. This helps me to revise - it's useful to take breaks from writing at times and come back with fresh eyes. Tulip and Doug was written this way over several months.

What did you do to celebrate finishing the book?

After the final revision, I sent the manuscript to Scholastic NZ - this was at 11.45pm on an open submissions day in 2018. After that, I think I went to bed!

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

Loyalties by Delphine de Vigan. It's a beautiful, taut, tragic story centred on two adolescent friends whose attempts to protect themselves and others have life-changing consequences. I loved it, even though it nearly broke my heart.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I'm continuing to write more picture books, and I'd like to write a chapter book or junior fiction novel one of these days as well.


What was involved with doing the illustrations?

First off, lots and lots of character sketches - I took some hilarious photos of an old sprouting potato that helped me design poor Doug in his hairy phase. I then created storyboards to lay out the entire book, and after revisions went on to create the final illustrations, all drawn with an old-fashioned dip pen and Indian ink and coloured/layered digitally.

How closely did you work with Emma?

Together with the Scholastic team, Emma gave feedback and notes on my sketches and storyboards - but we have never actually met in person!

What did you do to celebrate finishing the illustrations?

I think I spent a week just lying around in my pyjamas, far away from the computer! I celebrated properly with my family on Mother’s Day 2020 - I gave the book to my Mum, Louise, who has always encouraged my love of drawing.

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

During lockdown I read all my (mostly non-fiction) library books within a couple of weeks, so I started dipping into my collection of children’s books, both old and new. Not strictly reading, but a lot of looking. All-time favourites are Maurice Sendak, Tomi Ungerer, Oliver Jeffers and Isabel Allende.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I’m working on a fun new book with Scholastic NZ, due out towards the end of this year and featuring some very cute animal characters. Secretly though, I’m hoping that one day Tulip will make her comeback with some new adventures!

Tulip and Doug is published by Scholastic NZ


bottom of page