Francesca Simon is the author of the hugely successful Horrid Henry series, which has sold over 15 million copies. Henry is a terrible (but loveable) tearaway who leaves grown-ups in tears, and playmates cowering! Short chapters and line drawings from Tony Ross make these great choices for newly confident readers.
More about Francesca: “I was born in St Louis, Missouri, grew up in Los Angeles and attended both Yale and Oxford Universities, where I specialised in Medieval Studies. I then threw away a lucrative career as a medievalist and worked as a freelance journalist, writing for the Sunday Times, Guardian, Mail on Sunday, Telegraph, and Vogue.
After my son Joshua was born in 1989, I started writing children’s books full time.
I have published over 50 books, including the immensely popular Horrid Henry series, published in 17 countries and now a successful CITV animation series.
I live in London with my husband, son, and Tibetan Spaniel called Shanti.”
Meet Horrid Henry – if you dare! Horrid Henry may be a tiny terror but he makes reading all the rage.
This naughty’s boys devious tricks and achingly funny antics will have children (and their teachers) wiping tears from their eyes. Sometimes it’s good to be bad.
Francesca has won many awards including the Children’s Book of the Year for Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman at the British Book Awards in 2008.
New interview with Francesca Simon!
Horrid Henry is a superstar! Did you ever imagine he would become so popular?
Never! I think all authors are just thrilled to be published. But of course I am completely thrilled that children love him so much.
What’s your favourite Henry story?
That’s easy, Horrid Henry Gets Rich Quick, where Henry sells Peter as a slave to Moody Margaret in his jumble sale. Peter is delighted because he will earn 10p…
Aside from Henry who is your favourite character, and why?
I love Peter, because no one else does. I also feel for him because all he wants is for Henry to like him, and this will never happen.
Are Henry, Peter, Margaret and the others based on real children?
No! They are all parts of me, and parts of everyone in the world. We all have the desire to please, and the desire to rule the world.
What made you want to become an author?
I love to read, and I love living in my imagination.
Have you ever written books for adults?
No. And I don’t think I ever will.
Have you got any tips for mybooks.co.uk members who want to be writers?
Read, read, read. And always keep a notebook to jot down any ideas. And try to finish any stories you start: if necessary, write the ending first.
What authors can you recommend to our readers?
I love Sally Gardner, Meg Rosoff, and Beverly Cleary. Phillip Reeve writes very imaginative and enjoyable books as well.
What’s next for Henry?
The next Horrid Henry book is Horrid Henry Wakes the Dead. And I can promise lots more after that.
Interview with Francesca Simon
How did you get the idea for Horrid Henry?
I got the idea for Horrid Henry when a friend asked me to write a story about a horrid child. Horrid Henry was born on the spot. I also wanted to write about sibling rivalry and families where one child was considered “perfect” and the other “horrid.”
Is Horrid Henry based on a real child?
No, but I think there’s a bit of Henry and Peter inside everyone.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I get my ideas from things that happen to me, or to people I know, or from my imagination. I think of ordinary situations, like birthday parties or getting nits, then add a “horrid” twist. So if my son has to have an injection, I think of how Henry would behave.
How long does it take to write a Horrid Henry book?
Around 4 months.
Who is your favourite character?
I like Moody Margaret, because I was bossy like her when I was her age. But of course I love Henry and Peter. And Beefy Bert makes me laugh.
What’s your favourite Horrid Henry story?
I usually like the one I’m writing at the moment the best, but old favourites include Horrid Henry’s Injection and Horrid Henry’s Gets Rich Quick. I’m scared of injections and it makes me laugh when I read it.
How do you get your characters’ names?
I think of funny adjectives, like “sour” or “rude” and match names to them. I love alliteration and use it as much as possible.
Who is your favourite writer?
My favourite author as a child was Edward Eager, who wrote about magic adventures. I also really liked Beverley Cleary, whose Ramona and Henry Huggins books are published here. My favourite author now is Anthony Trollope, a Victorian novelist who wrote 47 very long books.
Why did you want to be an author?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, and started writing fairy tales when I was 8 years old, so it is never too early to start. I used to be a journalist, but I became an author after my son Joshua was born in 1989. I started to get a lot of ideas, and began writing them down. It did take me over a year to have my first book accepted, however. I started writing because I kept getting ideas—I think it’s because I love reading, and I was reading a lot of children’s books to him.
Can you give me any writing tips?
Ideas are everywhere, and you must listen out for them. Your stories will be more fun if you give them a twist. So, if you want to write about football, what about an alien football match, or a pets’ football match? It’s always easier to write the beginning and end first, and the middle last. Think of where your character is at the beginning, and what they are like, and how they are different at the end. The middle bit is what changed them. The best way to learn to be a writer is to be a reader.