5 Highlights from Lauren Child's Authors Live Event

On Thursday 24 November we were joined by bestselling author, illustrator and recently named Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child, who told us all about the Ruby Redfort series and the magic that goes into creating Ruby’s world.

We’ve picked out these 5 highlights from the broadcast, but make sure you watch the full event on demand to learn more about Lauren’s wonderful characters and the sources of her inspiration! 

Ideas can change

Lauren Child accidentally wrote her first book while trying to write for film:

‘I wrote and illustrated this piece of work which was really intended to become either a cartoon or maybe a live-action movie and I wrote Clarice Bean, That’s Me, which was my very, very first picture book and then someone said, ‘I think you’ve written a book!’

A story within a story

Lauren says to be a good author you need to be determined, and to write a great story you have to write from the heart

The Ruby Redfort spy books are actually a series read by Clarice Bean, which Lauren decided to create upon the request of her fans:

‘I started getting letters from my Clarice readers saying, "Are the Ruby Redfort books real?" And then I thought, it would be really interesting to make this pretend series a real series, so you too can read exactly what she’s reading.’

For more spy-themed books, check out our Authors Live events with Guy Bass, discussing his hilarious Spynosar books, and Anthony Horowitz, whose hugely popular Alex Rider series is ideal for fans of Ruby Redfort. We also have a list of 8 Great Books About Spies.

Writing is hard work

'They only give me nine months to write [the books]. And it really, really isn’t enough, which is why the last month of writing, I stay up all night pretty much every night and I’m really losing the plot by then! It’s the only way to get them done in time.'

Pupils at our Authors live event with Lauren Child - image by Alan Peebles

Four things you need to write a good story

Lauren says to be a good author you need to be determined, and to write a great story you have to write from the heart, thread in things that are actually true, and, most importantly, you really have to care about your writing.

'I think that’s very important because when I first started writing stories, I was trying to write something that I thought the publishers would like to publish. And actually that is not a good way of going about it. Always write something that you’re really passionate about. And, yes, stick with it and believe in it. I think those are probably the most important things.'

Some good film recommendations

For creating worlds in her books, Lauren took inspiration from Tim Burton’s film Edward Scissorhands:

'What I loved about it is that he created an entire world. So he thought about each piece of the story, whether it’s the music, the costumes, the character. Everything felt of a piece, like he’d really put together all the designers and writers and people working on the film very carefully. So it had his own personality in there.'

And to create the brave and daring spy, Ruby, Lauren looked to Tallulah from Bugsy Malone:

'She was very mouthy and she wasn’t afraid of anything. And I just loved how she was a female character but she was never a girly character. She’s very much just an American kid and that’s really what inspired the character.'

If you love feisty female protagonists, have a look at our list of Empowering Books for Girls, and check out Mairi Hedderwick’s Authors Live to hear her discuss her much-loved character, Katie Morag!

To find out how Lauren imagines her characters to look and to hear a thrilling extract from the series finale, Ruby Redfort: Blink and You Die, make sure you watch the full episode.

You can access our learning resources to go along with this event here.

Images by Alan Peebles.

Kelsey Birt

Kelsey Birt is an intern at Scottish Book Trust.