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Lauren Child burst on to the children’s books scene in 1999 and has since published many bestselling and award-winning books, including those featuring the hugely popular Charlie and Lola, and the Clarice Bean series.
Lauren was born in 1967, and grew up in Marlborough, Wiltshire. After studying Art at Manchester Polytechnic and London Art School, she worked in a variety of jobs, including assistant to Damien Hirst. She also started her own company, ‘Chandeliers for the People’, making exotic lampshades.
Her first children’s book Clarice Bean, That’s Me won a Bronze medal at the Nestle Smarties Book Awards. In 2000, she won the prestigious Kate Greenaway medal for I Will Not Ever, Never Eat a Tomato followed by a second Nestlé Smarties Book Prize in 2002 for That Pesky Rat. Clarice Bean became the star of Lauren’s first novel Utterly Me, Clarice Bean in 2002, and went on to appear in two more novels. A television series based on her Charlie and Lola books has also become a huge hit for CBBC.
Lauren Child first introduced the character of Ruby Redfort in her three award-winning, bestselling Clarice Bean novels. Since then she has been inundated with letters from fans asking for the Ruby Redfort books. And it must have worked, because the first two in the series, Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes and Ruby Redfort: Take Your Last Breath have already been published to great critical and commercial success.
Lauren Child’s illustrations contain many different mediums including magazine cuttings, collage, material and photography as well as traditional watercolours. Lauren lives in London, where she works for the Design Agency ‘Big Fish’. In 2008 she was announced as UNESCO’s Artist for Peace and in 2010 she was awarded an MBE for services to literature.
Lauren Child has won the Nestle Smarties prize four times and the Kate Greenaway Prize for I Will Not Ever Eat a Tomato. Lauren has an MBE for Services to Literature, and in 2017 was named the Children’s Laureate 2017-19.
Lauren Child talks about Ruby Redfort
1. One of our reviewers is 11 year-old Tilly who says “I LOVE Clarice Bean and have been waiting for a Ruby Redfort book for ages!” When did you know that Ruby needed her own book?
So many Clarice Bean readers were writing asking where they could buy the Ruby Redfort stories, that I realised that Ruby as the literary heroine of Clarice Bean’s favourite books was a real character to many of the readers. I’d always wanted to write another novel series and it felt that I already knew who Ruby was and how to write the books.
2. What inspired you when you were creating Ruby? Did any particular books or films influence you?
Ruby really came from watching slightly too much American TV as a child. I was a keen reader but I was also an avid watcher of cop shows and detective series, screwball comedies and sitcoms. I loved and still love films – Hitchcock thrillers particularly, North by Northwest is a favourite. Also films where children take the leading roles, ET, Bugsy Malone, the original Freaky Friday with child star Jodie Foster, and the beautifully written and shot, Paper Moon with eleven year old Tatum O’Neal.
3. Ruby is a super-intelligent code-cracker. Are you a fan of puzzles and codes and how did you create them for the book?
I am fascinated by puzzles and codes but quickly realised that if I wanted to convince my readers that Ruby is a genius code-breaker then I needed to find someone who could write genius level codes for her to crack – eg not me. For the book we asked the exceptionordinarily clever maths professor at Oxford University Marcus Du Sautoy to be our super geek consultant and to create the codes for the book.
4. Have you got any plans to write about Clarice Bean again? We’d love to know what she thinks of the book….
I would very much like to write another Clarice Bean novel, I have an idea for one but not sure when I will get around to writing it.
5. Of all your creations, who is your favourite character and why?
It is hard to come up with just one because each book is a favourite for a while at least… until the next one comes along.
Clarice Bean is a favourite character, perhaps because she was my first, perhaps because she can talk about anything so I never run out of things for her to say. Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent is another character I am fond of, he is a boy genius and super rich too, not unlike Ruby Redfort in many ways but without the secret agent lifestyle. Ruby is fun to write about because she is so confident, not afraid of anyone – or at least, almost anyone. I enjoy writing dialogue for her and Clancy, they sort of like to banter.
6. What’s next for Ruby Redfort – and for you, Lauren?
I have already begun the second Ruby Redfort and am just deciding on the theme and setting. Apart from writing Ruby I also hope to find time to do some illustrating, it’s something I miss when I am writing novels.