Interview with Stacy Gregg, author of 'Mini Whinny'
We talk to internationally bestselling New Zealand author, Stacy Gregg, about her new picture book, Mini Whinny
What inspired you to write Mini Whinny?
Scholastic had approached me to write the story of a heroic miniature pony who saves the day. I replied that I would love to do the book, but that in my experience minis are mostly stroppy little brats and troublemakers and I would prefer to write that! And so Mini Whinny was born. This first book, Happy Birthday To Me! is actually based on a true fact – all horses have their birthday on August 1st (for registration reasons) and understandably our tiny diva has an issue with sharing her big day with the other horses.
Do you identify with any of the characters in the book?
I do! When I was little, my younger sister would throw an enormous tantrum if she didn’t receive a gift too on my birthday. I think I sublimated my resentment over the unfairness of sharing my day with her for a long time and it has now surfaced in a picture book.
You have mostly written junior fiction. How was writing a children’s book different?
It was much more of a collaborative effort. When I was asked if there was an illustrator I wanted to be partnered with, I instantly thought of Ruth Paul. I loved her work and we were friends already. We work well together because Ruth is accustomed to doing both the writing and the illustrations so she is fantastic to bounce story ideas off.
What are your plans for the other books in the series?
The next book is currently being illustrated by Ruth. Goody Four Shoes is about Mini Whinny’s reaction to having another mini pony turn up on the yard. Naturally she doesn’t take the competition well!
Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes, I’ve always written for a living. I started out as a magazine feature writer and the books happened later when I was in my thirties.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
It’s all amazing! I like the variety of the job, the autonomy, the travel, working in isolation to write and then touring schools and working with kids.
What advice would you give to someone starting out as a children’s author?
Define what it is you are setting out to do. Go into a bookshop and look at the shelves and think about where the story you want to tell will sit alongside the other books that are there. You need to find your own mojo to make it work.
What would you say is the moral of the story in Mini Whinny?
That life is more fun when you share with your friends instead of being selfish. However, I’m not sure our pint-sized heroine is entirely reconstructed at the end – she’s still the star of her own universe!
Find Mini Whinny at all good bookstores.