Susannah Lloyd & Kate Hindley: Who Ate Steve?

Who Ate Steve?
Susannah Lloyd & Kate Hindley: Who Ate Steve?

About Author

Susannah Lloyd is the author of picture books including Who Ate Steve?, Here Be Giants and Here Be Dragons. Libraries and bookshops are her happy place. Her books are inspired by old black and white movies, dusty stuffed animals in museums and all things small in the world.

Kate Hindley is a children's book illustrator living and working in Bristol, UK. She worked as a print designer before illustrating her first book, Claire Freedman's The Great Snortle Run, which was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Since then, Kate has illustrated a number of bestselling picture books, including The Naughtiest Girl and You Must Bring a Hat.



Who Ate Steve?  (Nosy Crow)

June 2024

Who Ate Steve? is a picture book about opposites. Marcel, a bird, is big and Steve, a worm, is - hang on, where is Steve?  Prepare for laughs, the unexpected and shouts of 'again!' when you share this hilarious picture book with young children.  Even if they don't understand who is the biggest and who is the smallest, they will definitely know who is the naughtiest one of all....

Review:  "This tale will have every reader hooked and involved!" - Maria,

We spoke with author Susannah Lloyd and illustrator Kate Hindley to find out how a pet mantis inspired Who Ate Steve?, why it took so long to design the characters, and what makes them laugh!

Q&A with Susannah Lloyd and Kate Hindley, on creating Who Ate Steve?

"Steve really goes through it during the course of the book, and has quite an ordeal.
I am very sorry, Steve." Susannah Lloyd

1.   Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you enjoy writing / illustrating? What has been your favourite creative project in your career?

Hi! I'm Susannah.  I love writing books that feature scoundrels, blunderers and shenanigans. I am inspired by old black and white movies, dusty stuffed animals in museums or by all things small in the world. A lot of my books have been inspired by past pets, many of whom were all blunderers or scoundrels in one way or another. I can't pick a favourite creative project - I feel the same way about my books as my children - impossible to pick a favourite!

2.    What is your new book, Who Ate Steve, about? Who is Steve?

Susannah:   Steve is a very well behaved earthworm who takes part in an 'extremely interesting book about size', in which it is planned that the concepts big and small will be demonstrated to all the small readers out there. Unfortunately for Steve, Marcel the bird is there to demonstrate 'big' and he has other plans on his mind. Steve really goes through it during the course of the book, and has quite an ordeal. I am very sorry, Steve.

3.    What inspired this idea for a 'size' book, and in which one of the 'helpers' does their own thing? How long did it take to get it right?

Susannah:   The character of Marcel was inspired by my son's pet mantis. We used to put crickets in his pot for him to eat. Sometimes I would wander past later in the day, and he would freeze, stock-still, mid pounce, and swivel just one eye towards me as if he was trying to assess whether he had been caught red-handed. It used to make me laugh so much. His soul lives on in Marcel.

4.    When read aloud, the text makes the narrator the main character - what gave you the idea to write it this way?

Susannah:   I am endeared by characters who are exasperated, outraged or otherwise scandalised. I feel that all my small readers will be familiar with the narrator's steadily increasing exasperation, from observing teachers whose lessons get derailed by this sort of culprit; someone who refuses to confess that they have stolen the glue-stick, despite following that impulse to steal it every single time. Marcel is blameless in many ways - he simply can't help himself.

5.    We'd love to know more about the illustrations, Kate. What appealed to you in this story?

Kate:   I've been a fan of Susannah's writing for a long time, so I was thrilled when Nosy Crow sent me Who Ate Steve prospective text. The narrator's voice is hilarious. When reading aloud it's best to put on your best disapproving, haughty voice (which usually proves very hard to do while keeping a straight face!)  It's such a fun book to share.

6.    Did you have a lot of freedom to create the illustrations, given that two of the main characters don't speak, and the one who does is never seen?

Kate:   One of the reasons I love working with Nosy Crow is that you're given so much creative freedom, and we spent a long time playing around with different ways of designing the book. A great joy of working on a text where the emphasis is around a concept or joke (such as Steve) is that the design approach isn't always obvious as thumb nailing a straight forward, narrative-lead text. There's quite a bit of head scratching, a few dead ends, and a lot of collaboration, but it's always incredibly satisfying when you find a solution.

7.    How did you decide what the characters would look like? Was it tricky to make Steve appealing and Marcel predatory - but not too predatory for a picture book?

Kate:   Marcel was very tricky! Just as you say he had to be the just right amount of predatory, and anthropomorphised enough that we had some flexibility with his poses and expression, but not too much that he started to look cartoony (bird legs are the new horse legs.) We also didn't want his markings make him look too much like any specific type of bird that it might preclude us to any possible co editions.

I think it was the longest I've ever spent designing a character and I have a little sketchbook full of bird doodles! I was quite grateful for wee little Steve, who in the end only had a few hat modifications.

8.    There is so much to giggle at in Who Ate Steve - what is your favourite spread or moment in the story? What 'extras' can children look out for in the pages?

Susannah:   My favourite spread is where Marcel is sitting down, legs out straight, feathers all fluffed up, in an enormous huff at having been thwarted in his mission to eat Steve. Steve is just returning his hat to his head, quietly trying to compose himself. Moments later Steve has been whisked away again and his hat is fluttering to the ground. Kate is a total comedy genius. I love it!

Kate:    I really enjoyed the poses at the beginning where Marcel bends down to eye up Steve and then the moment just before his first attempt at taking a bite. He's so guilty and hapless, and hopefully the reader is on side and realises the poor chap just can't help himself!

Children might spot the little ladybird who decides to make a quick exit once she spots what she's wandered into.

9.    Where do you most enjoy creating your picture books, and what is always on your desk while you work? What are you working on currently?

Susannah:   I tend to do most of my writing in my head when out and about, and scribble my ideas down in my notebook, to type up later. I have a big print of Sophie hugging the tiger in the Tiger Who Came to Tea, right above my desk. I find it very inspiring. Judith Kerr was a childhood favourite, and still is.

At the moment I have a big stack of chocolate bars on my desk to fuel me through writing a sequel to a chapter book that is coming out in September, called 'Badgers Are GO!' The first book is about a young badger called Lulu who loves to lead an ordinary badger life, minding her own little badgery business, when she gets conscripted to joint an Academy of Badgering. It is run by a very formidable character, Major Musty Rumpington, who has whiskers of steel and suffer no fools, gladly or otherwise. There, her catastrophic attempts at training lead to a very dramatic first mission, to SAVE THE WORLD. She is going to be back in this sequel, where I hope to unleash an equal amount of mayhem.

Kate:   I currently work up in my loft at home. I've given up on it ever being tidy. Everything is just covered in paper and books because I always feel like I need everything out and if I put anything away I might accidentally forget about it.   I'm currently just finishing up my follow up picture book for Nosy Crow which should be publishing next summer.

10.    Whose picture books do you enjoy reading to relax, and where do you go to find new ideas and inspiration for your own books?

Susannah:   The children's books I love the best are the ones where you get the feeling that the writer and illustrator were thoroughly enjoying themselves, making themselves crack up, being playful and having an absolutely marvellous time creating it. The books of Russell Hoban, James Marshall, William Steig, John Yeoman and Quentin Blake give me that feeling. I love so many modern children's book makers too - especially everything that Andy Stanton, Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen and Beatrice Alemagna make, and Kate of course! It has been a total dream for me to work with her.

Kate:    My son and I are currently really enjoying Jim Whalley and Stephen Collin's 'Baby's First…' books. They're laugh-out-loud funny, and the bouncy verse is so brilliantly crafted it practically reads itself (which is a gift to all exhausted parents. Thank you Whalley and Collins!)


Author's Titles