Did you write stories when you were younger?
I wrote stories in lessons at primary school but nothing independently. It honestly never occurred to me that I could. I didn’t think I was very good at writing and no one told me otherwise. Although my mum recently found a story I wrote when I was seven about an egg that part hatches in the saucepan and runs away. She now claims she always knew I could be a writer – although she never mentioned anything of the sort before.
Where did you get the idea from for Freddie? Is he like anyone you know?
Freddie isn’t any one person in particular. As a teacher I’m lucky to have taught lots of brilliant kids so I can take bits of each of them and smoosh them together to make characters. This is what I did with Freddie.
Are any of the other characters based on people you know?
Freddie’s grams is based partly on my own grandmother, Nanny Grigsby who will be 91 in May and is a force of nature! Her nickname, Beeswings, was given to her because she is always buzzing about doing things. She has so much energy. She still volunteers in the Marie Curie charity shop to do her part, but also to get first dibs on the stock! She is a feeder and very loving but doesn’t suffer fools. She’s a total hero.
What job would you do if you weren't an author?
I am also a teacher – a job which I absolutely love. I have the most fantastic Year 3 class this year which I share with my friend and colleague the wonderful Mrs Hunter. If I had to choose something completely different, I would work in an animal rescue centre or be a restaurant critic.
Are you good at drawing as well?
Because you are not asking me to prove it, I can confirm I am EXCELLENT at drawing. My cartoon frog is a thing to behold.
Why did you write a children's book?
That’s an excellent question. I never even considered writing for adults. I love reading children’s books. I love sharing stories with children. I suppose I think children’s books are better.
Was it hard to write about a granny dying?
It was something I thought about a lot before I started writing because I wanted to get it right. Often, a grandparent passing is the first experience a child has of death and I wanted to tell a story which shows that good can be found in grief.
Do you think you'll ever write an adult's book?
I am a children’s writer. I love writing for children. I would never say never but I have so many more stories I want to write for children I don’t know if I’d have time.
Have you got any more books coming out? Is Freddie in them?
I have two more books that are coming out with Usborne. Freddie isn’t in either of them – I think I’ve left him in the right place. The next two are standalones – The Incredible Record Smashers and Grandpa Frank’s Greta Big Bucket List. I’m so excited about both of them. Hopefully, there will be lots more laughs and lots of more heart.
Which character from Freddie Yates would you rather spend lockdown with?
Phyllis Griffiths – I quite like weird food combinations and I think we could have some fun cooking up some crazy recipes together.