Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Interview with FOOTPRINTS IN THE SNOW Author, Mei Matsuoka

KN: How did you come up with the idea for FOOTPRINTS IN THE SNOW?

MM: I really enjoy Philosophy and actually spent a short time studying it in London after University. “Sophie’s World” is one of my favorite books and the questions it poses about the existence of a certain reality really interests me. That was where the idea of a ‘Story-within-a-story’ came from. Footprints are also something that has always fascinated me. As a child, I would always instinctively want to follow them, to see where it might lead me, what I might find. It has that magical quality of something that is a subtle indication of what was there before, but is also ephemeral. It has layers of metaphorical meanings and was a great tool for telling my story about Mr. Wolf, common misconceptions (stereotypes) and how things may not always be so black and white in this world.

KN: How long did it take you to write the first draft?

MM: Writing the first draft was quite quick. Once I have a story I want to tell in my head, it is just a matter of getting it down on paper.

KN: Describe your revision process.

MM: The revision of the second, third and fourth drafts were a much longer process, which came about from getting too much feedback from outside parties. I think the problem was that once I changed a small detail, everything else had to be changed. There was a lot of re-adapting and the more I changed it, the less happy I was with the finished product. In the end, we went back to the original first draft. But I think the process of having gone through the changes was an important one and made me realize the strength of the original text.

KN: Why did you decide to feature an unreliable narrator?

MM: Is he an unreliable narrator? I had never thought of it that way… Maybe slightly confused, but then aren’t we all? We are forever changing our minds on the spot, not knowing who or what we really are, often getting guided by our impulses and instincts. I wanted to show that Wolf wasn’t necessarily in control of what was happening, even when he thought he was. Nothing is ever as straight forward as ‘This is this and that is that’ and I think that it’s good to show that in children’s books as well.

KN: Do people contact you to tell you what they think really happens when Mr. Wolf follows the footprints?

MM: I have heard various responses regarding what might happen to Wolf after he follows the footprints (I often like to ask!) Many children say that he’ll find the duck and eat him and just as many say that he will become friends with the duck after all. Some have said that he won’t find the duck, give up, go back home and have a cup of tea! I’m yet to hear a really unusual answer, but that is always the exciting thing about the story, to see what each person’s take on it is. I always hope that as many people as possible pick up on the subtle details. Such as the pens and paws that are ‘writing’ the ‘story’ pages and also the animal toys in the backgrounds of the ‘reality’ pages. Thank you for reading the book and this interview. Please contact me at I’d love to hear your take on what happens after Wolf follows the footprints!

KN: Thanks for the interview, Mei!

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