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Interview: Kyle Mewburn talks about We Saw a Spinosaurus

Kyle Mewburn is the author of a range of picture books, including the awardwinning Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!, Old HuHu and Melu. As well as her many picture books, Kyle has written a lot of junior fiction such as the hugely popular Dinosaur Rescue series, which has been published in over 20 countries. Originally from Brisbane, Kyle now lives in a house with a grass roof in Millers Flat, Central Otago. When not writing, Kyle’s free time is consumed in trying to maintain a semi-self-sufficient lifestyle, surrounded by goats, chickens and cats. Kyle talks to NZ Booklovers.

Tell us a little about We Saw a Spinosaurus.

We saw a spinosaurus is a romping, rollicking rhyming story about some kids who discover some secret dinosaury activities going on at school. Textually it's a celebration of wordplay and nonsense rhymes, all brilliantly amplified by Daron Parton's vibrant illustrations.

What inspired you to write this book?

This story has had a very long gestation, I must say. The idea first popped into my head while I was touring schools promoting my Dinosaur Rescue series in 2012 or so. I'd created a dinosaur test for the kids with all sorts of dinosaurs they had to try and identify. The one that stumped them all (understandably) was the Doyouthinkhesaurus. The idea of a doyouthinkhesaurus kind of tickled my fancy, but it took me years to figure out what to do with it. What research was involved?

There was no research involved as such, as I already knew way more about dinosaurs than I ever thought I'd need to. What was your routine or process when writing this book, and how did you work with Daron Parton, the illustrator?

As with all my picture books I had this one simmering away on my mental backburner for ages. Every now and then I'd bring it out and try to push it along by trying all manner of different approaches and settings, trying to feel my way forward. Where is the story going? What, if anything, is it trying to say? And, most importantly, how am I going to tell it. A narrative didn't feel right at all - it just felt stifled, which was anathema to the fun nature of the story - so I decided it needed to be in rhyme. But what on earth rhymed with Spinosaurs?? In the end I realised the best, if not the only, way to make the story work was to throw away the rule book and make every word rhyme with spinosaurus. Which is the main reason it ended up being set in a school really - just because there was a handy corridorus and doorus and myriad other wacky rhyme possibilities.

I can't really say I 'worked with' Daron. I simply stood back and gaped in awe and wonder as he brought my story to life.

What did you enjoy the most about writing this picture book?

The idea of ending every line of rhyme with a word ending with -orus/aurus really tickled my fancy. It was just so much fun writing this story! My particular favourite is the stanza: More and more and morus. One, two, three and fourus.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I don't really celebrate finishing a book. Largely because I'm not entirely confident it IS finished until it's actually published. There's often a lot more editing to be done, so I don't like to presume anything. I do, however, spend the next few days with a self-satisfied smile on my face and feel rather smug about myself. It's a great, albeit short-lived, feeling.

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

Before you knew my name by Jacqueline Bubblitz. It's such a riveting, well-told and original story which richly deserves every accolade it has received.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I'm currently neck-deep in yet-another rewrite of my adult historic novel Sewing Moonlight, which is set in a fictionalised Millers Flat (the village where I live) during the 20's/30's. It's taken me over 20 years to get to this point, so it's such a buzz and a relief that it'll finally be published by Bateman sometime in 2023.

As far as children's literature goes, I've got two new picture books coming out in Australia next year which I'm super-excited about.

Scholastic New Zealand


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