Saturday, December 11, 2010

"The child that's still inside me."

I came across this 1980 interview with author Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking and other books) and Agnetha Faltskog was singer for ABBA.

I was particularly interested in some of the insights Lindgren shared when dealing with kids and writing for them.

To the question "Were you a kind mother?"

Astrid: I played with my children and had just as much fun as they did. That's something that only children knows, if an adult enjoys being with them, if they have fun being with them. You can't pretend, "now we're going to have a good time". It has to come from inside you. Not everybody enjoys spending time with their children.
Astrid: When I walk in the streets I observe all people intensively. I saw a mother and a young boy and I thought that this boy is lucky. They were calm, both of them relaxed, holding each other's hands and were occupied with their own separate thoughts, but they exuded affinity and trust. I felt like walking up to them saying: Oh, how good things are with you and your mom. But you see others "now come with me"...

Astrid, why do you think adults like your books just as much as children?

Astrid: When it comes to a children's book, adults have to be able to stand it in order to read it. If not, it's not good. If you ask me the question: How should a good children's book be like, then I answer: It should be good! Because you never ask how good a collection of poems or a good novel should be like. There's really no good way to judge children's literature, in any other way than as literature. You have to have the same demands, on artistry, on genuineness, a good language and so on. You can't just sit down and say: well, this is how a good children's book should be.
Agnetha: It's just as if they would ask us, especially the guys, how do you write a hit, do you think that now we're going to write a hit? They don't. You don't work in that way. How would you know?

Do you picture any special kind of children in front of you when you write a children’s book?

Astrid: No, I write for the child that's still inside me. I never think that there will be children reading my books. Never. I write just to have fun. It's just as fun writing books as it is reading them. Since I always read books, as a child, and I still do, I can feel when I write that this is the way I want it. I go inside it in some kind of way. No, I never think of any other children. It doesn't matter what they think either... I can't let it. It's good if they're just as childish as I am.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this interview. I think a lot of publishers forget that books written kids need to held to the same standards of writing as adult books.

rfs said...

@echolage-Absolutely! Some books written for kids such as "Winnie the Pooh" are now on the reading list at some universities!

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