An interview with Karen Beddow and Lyndsay Macaulay

An interview with Karen Beddow and Lyndsay Macaulay

Extraordinary Travellers: The Little Museum by Karen Beddow and Lyndsay Macaulay is one of our top children’s book picks this October. I’m always fascinated by where writers get their ideas from and love learning more about the journey they went on from deciding to write book to actually holding the finished copy in their hands. I thought it would be great to ask Karen and co-writer Lyndsay a few questions about their writing process.

First here is a little more about the book itself:

Siblings Lucy and Tom stumble across a family secret and become the newest recruits to the League of Extraordinary Travellers. When the Eifel Tower is stolen, they step in to help and adventure ensues. A fantastic book that blends mystery with facts about the country the story is set in. The Little Museum is the first title in the series which will feature different destinations from around the world.

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Where did the inspiration come from to write Extraordinary Travellers?

The inspiration came when we were travelling to Africa for the first time and I wanted to write a book that would show the girls a little bit about what it was like in a fun and interesting way. In the end I found the Anna Hibiscus books which I can highly recommend. 


Have you always wanted to write a children’s book?

Yes and No, Lyndsay is most definitely in the yes camp. This series is a family effort from the Mini Travellers team.


How long did it take you to write and publish it?

The Little Museum was started a couple of years ago but we never finished it. However when lockdown started in March and we couldn’t travel, and my travel work practically dried up, I decided it was worth spending the time doing something fun and productive instead. I was introduced to Lyndsay and then it all came together in less than 3 months from first discussion to publication on 8/9/2020 


How did you feel when Karen first got in touch about co-writing Extraordinary Travellers: The Little Museum?

In the moment, I was so flattered that Karen had thought of me for the project that I instantly said yes. The idea sounded absolutely brilliant and I couldn’t wait for us to be able to get together to talk more about how it would work. I think everything felt so out of the ordinary at the beginning of lockdown that it didn’t seem that random for a fab project like this to come up. I definitely said yes with less hesitation or questions than any other project. I then had a minor nervous breakdown as I realised I had just committed to something so different to my usual day job in schools. 


Is this the first children’s book that you’ve written?

Yes, absolutely. I love to write, and write lots of different stuff day to day but never published in my own name and always for adults so this was a very different experience and a brilliant challenge. Hopefully this is the first of many stories in the Extraordinary Travellers series.


What’s surprised you most about writing and publishing a children’s book?

The fact that traditional publishing is so hard to break into and that a book like this which is fictional but has some factual elements in, seems to challenge the norm, so people shy away from it.


What did you enjoy most, and least, about the writing process?

There was so much pleasure sitting down to write, I loved thinking about each of the different characters and finding out details about the places they were visiting. I would chuckle to myself as I thought about the different things they would say and how they would respond to things. It was also a great excuse to spend long periods of time writing in bed. I think the thing I enjoyed the least was waiting for Karen to read and respond to my parts of the book. It was a proper stomach in your mouth sort of feeling, a bit like having a test marked or waiting for your mum to get home from parents evening. This was my first children’s book and I was very much prepared for Karen and the Mini Travellers to think it was rubbish. I was so relieved they liked it! I loved the story and really hoped my words did it justice.


Which character in the Extraordinary Travellers: The Little Museum was your favourite to write about?

I think writing about Sylvie was probably my favourite, particularly when she was being a bit grumpy and feeling exasperated with Jacques. She had a really snippy way of talking that was great fun to write and I could imagine her rolling her eyes and puffing as she was trying to execute her plans.


Do you have any ideas for more books in the series? 

We definitely do. The chapter for the second Spanish book is in the back of the first one, and we think Italy and Greece should come along too.


Are you particularly keen to feature any of the places you’ve visited over the last few years in future books and if so, why them?

I’d love to write a book about Africa but I think that’s a little way off in the series yet. The book on Italy would have to cover Pompei, the Colosseum and the Tuscan hills being some of my favourite places in the whole world never mind Italy. 


Well, I’m particularly excited about getting into character for a story set in Italy. I will definitely spend lots of time eating pizza, pasta and ice cream in preparation. I’d also love to travel to Sweden and Denmark so think they could be great places for an adventure.


A mum of two, Naomi Jones spent eight years working for Children’s Publishers in London and is now a children’s author and freelance editor.

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A mum of two, Naomi Jones spent eight years working for Children’s Publishers in London and now works as a freelance writer, editor and children’s publishing professional.

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