Andy Seed's new 'Interview With' series will look into the lives of historical figures, beginning with Cleopatra & Other Famous Rulers.
Andy Seed is a Blue Peter Book Award-winning author. Formerly a primary school teacher, he has written over 30 books for children and adults, including humorous titles for the RSPB, National Trust and British Museum. His books include the popular colour Q&A animals series starting with Interview With a Tiger and Other Clawed Beasts Too. Interview with a Kangaroo and will be published in summer 2022.
Andy lives in the wilds of North Yorkshire where he spends a lot of time fighting the jungle which threatens to engulf his house.
Interview with Cleopatra & Other Famous Rulers (Welbeck Children's Books)
Step back in time with Andy Seed (via his time travel machine!) and meet some of the most powerful leaders from history, in his new book Interview with Cleopatra and Other Famous Rulers, including Boudica, Montezuma and many more. These fun and fascinating Q&As with the leaders themselves give them a chance to share their achievements and what made them stand out. The next book in the series will be Interview with Blackbeard & Other Vicious Villains.
In this video and Q&A, award-winning author Andy Seed tells us what inspired the book, why he wanted to write it and who are his stand-out interviews!
Read an extract from Interview with Cleopatra & Other Famous Rulers
Q&A with Andy Seed
1. Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
I'm a tall cheese enthusiast who lives in The Forest of Dean. I spend a lot of time travelling around the UK (and occasionally abroad) visiting schools and festivals and doing events that show how enjoyable books can be. I LOVE being an author because it enables me to find out about some of the most interesting things in the world and share them with children.
2. What kinds of books do you enjoy writing?
I write lots of factual books about wildlife and history in particular, and I love adding a bit of humour into my writing to make reading fun. I enjoy bringing a subject alive in unusual ways.
3. What inspired you to interview Cleopatra, and other leaders, for your new book?
I know that loads of people find Ancient Egypt fascinating and mysterious and amazing - me too! Cleopatra is an especially appealing person because she was both a rich, powerful queen but also had to deal with the Romans, so we get the extra spice out of that. I thought that the only way to find out what REALLY happened (and to see if she was as stunningly beautiful as history claims) was to go back in time and interview Cleopatra herself, so that's what I did. Simps. Oh, and I thought I'd chat to a few other leaders while I was at it.
4. How did the time machine work out?
Well I have been writing a series of animal interview books beginning with Interview with a Tiger and Interview with a Shark, using the special TRANIMALATOR device I invented during lockdown. It translates animal language into English - handy. With a few tweaks and advice from several of the planet's best scientists, I adapted it into a TIME MACHINE so I could meet Queen Cleopatra and Boudica and others. It wasn't easy (I kept going to the wrong year) but we got it working in the end, yay!
5. What did you most want to find out from these leaders?
Loads. I interviewed Alexander the Great, Elizabeth I, Montezuma and many other great rulers from the past and I asked them all kinds of things:
- What's it like being the BOSS?
- Why do you keep fighting other kings and queens?
- What was it like growing up royal?
- Is that your real hair?
- Does chopping off heads really make you happy?
6. How did you decide who to visit?
Good question. First, I wanted to visit lots of different TIMES. So I went back over 2,000 years to the ancient world to meet Cleo, but I also visited Viking days, the stinky Medieval years, and Tudor times. Then, I also wanted to go AROUND THE WORLD and meet leaders from different lands: Africa, China, America and Asia as well as all over Europe. I chose leaders who were powerful, famous, nasty, wise and really amazing.
7. Who was your favourite interview?
It's really hard to pick a favourite because I enjoyed them all but two of the best were my chat with Viking king Harald Bluetooth, plus the interview with Cleopatra. I think Harald just comes out on top.
8. Who surprised you the most?
I think it was the African ruler Mansa Musa. He was the richest man in history (he possessed half the world's gold) but he gave most of it away! None to me, sadly…
9. Interesting - but was all a very long time ago. Why do we need to know about their lives?
Ah yes, good point. The world we live in is shaped by the past. The way we are today is a result of what happened over hundreds or thousands of years - the countries we live in, for example: their borders were decided by the rulers of the past. Also, life was very different at most points in history and it is really interesting to discover what it was like (and also why rulers did the things they did).
10. What do you think about Gareth Conway's illustrations? Any favourites?
He is fantastic at expressions and some of the faces of the rulers are brilliant. My favourite is a picture of me with William Shakespeare comparing beards, haha!
11. Are you planning any more visits in your time machine?
Yes, there is going to be a LOT more time travel fun. The next book in the series is Interview with Blackbeard and other Villains. It's published in August and will feature Guy Fawkes, Nero, Vlad the Impaler and the trickster who sold the Eiffel Tower among other bad-bad bods!
12. With all the time travel involved, how long does it take you to complete your books?
There is oodles of research. I have to find out about people so I know what questions to ask. But writing the interviews themselves is quite quick - it all just seems to flow.
13. So when you're not travelling around in time machines, what do you enjoy doing to relax?
I explore the forest where I live (it has wild boar, snakes, beavers and falcons), I make things (I am creating a child-size golden Egyptian coffin to take into schools), I play table tennis and I eat lots of cheese.