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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Interview: Juliette MacIver and Carla Martell talk about Duck Goes Meow

Juliette MacIver is a widely acclaimed children’s picture book writer and mother of four.

Carla Martell is an illustrator and designer from Auckland who specialises in whimsical illustration featuring children, animals and curious characters.

Juliette and Carla talk to NZ Booklovers about Duck Goes Meow.

What inspired you to write this book?

Juliette: This is the true story behind the inception of this book: Scholastic had asked me on multiple occasions to write something a bit simpler, as they felt that most of the manuscripts I was sending them at that time were a bit too complex for the intended age group - mostly in terms of language, wordplay and length of story.

I was complaining about this to a good friend of mine, 'Ana Coffey, because I like writing rich and complicated stories (haha). 'Ana said, "You should write something like Duck - Goes - Meow." Evidently, it was a facetious comment. But some of the most brilliant ideas, I have found, are the throwaway ones that are meant as a joke. So it is all thanks to 'Ana that this book came into being.

Can you tell us a little about how you went about doing the illustration for Duck Goes Meow?

Carla: After reading the story and watching the video, I was inspired to make the animals into silly noisy know-it-alls! I also hand-lettered the animal sounds to make them sound even noisier and more opinionated.

What did you enjoy the most about writing this book?

Juliette: I love crafting ideas into a satisfying, rounded story. I think figuring out the ending was probably the most fun part.

What did you enjoy the most about doing these illustrations?

Carla: I loved making the illustrations very simple - although that was also a challenge, as creating every tiny detail was important in giving each animal a distinct character. I also very much enjoyed drawing multiple cats (any opportunity to draw a cat, I'm always trying to sneak them into the books I'm illustrating)

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

Carla: As a lover of vintage music I might include these two classics:

‘Everybody Wants to be a Cat’ from ‘Aristocats’

‘The Little White Duck’ by Danny Kaye (even though our duck is yellow!)

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

Juliette: Had a nap with a cat.

Carla: Unfortunately I went straight into illustrating another book for Scholastic, which I’m just finishing now! So I will save my celebrations for later this year and maybe have a little holiday.

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

Juliette: 'The Sisters Brothers' by Patrick deWitt. It is fabulous; enchanting. I did not want to bother with leading a life for a while - I only wanted to read that book.

Carla: I’ve actually started re-reading some of my old books, particularly those by Kate Atkinson. ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ was the last one I read - it came out in 1995. I love the playfulness and the detail she captures in her writing, and the way she often weaves multiple eras together.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

Juliette: I am deep in the throes of writing a seven-book series for 9-13 year olds, titled Chronicles of the Fade. I have nearly completed Book 1.

Carla: I’ve been busy with illustrating three books this year, so I think some time away by the sea might be a good remedy.

Scholastic New Zealand


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