Superheroes Always Fight Back… Or Do They? ~ Author Interview

Happy new year! I’m kicking off 2023 with a super author interview with Kate Thompson. Today is publication day for Kate’s latest picture book, Superheroes Always Fight Back… Or Do They? Illustrated by Clare Elsom. This is the sensational sequel to one of my daughter’s all-time favourite picture books, Superheroes Don’t Get Scared.

Arthur dreams of being a mega-fast and strong superhero with the ability to fight and banish the baddie next door. But Grandpa explains that the best superheroes actually save the day a very different kind of way…

Just like before, Kate has found a great balance between message and storytelling. Arthur discovers that true power can be found in kindness – a message that the world needs to hear right now! This picture book reminds readers that we all have a superpower inside and that an act of kindness, no matter how small, really can change the world. Superheroes Always Fight Back… Or Do They? is a joy to read and wraps you up in a giant hug!

I am delighted to be joined by Kate to tell us about the inspiration behind this fantastic picture book…

Hi Kate, thank you so much for chatting with me. We loved Superheroes Don’t Get Scared and were so excited to read the sequel. Did you always plan for it to be a series?

Hi! It’s so lovely to be back chatting with you, and it makes me so happy to hear that you enjoyed Superheroes Don’t Get Scared – I’m all smiley now! I genuinely had no plans to write a series. I was an unrepresented relatively new aspiring author when I signed the publishing deal for the first book back in 2019, so I was just thrilled to have a book published. It was actually the publisher who approached me in the Autumn of 2020 (so just after the first book was published) to ask whether I’d consider writing a second superheroes book. I jumped at the opportunity to work with Clare Elsom and the editorial team at Trigger Publishing/Welbeck Children’s Books again!  

Can you tell us a little bit about the sequel and the inspiration behind it?

Superheroes Always Fight Back… Or Do They? features Arthur, a little boy who as well as loving superheroes, enjoys spending time with his Grandpa and pet guinea pig in garden. When Arthur starts to have some trouble with the girl who lives next door, Grandpa teaches him that the best superheroes solve their problems using empathy and kindness.

Kindness and empathy are themes that I explore in a lot of my writing simply because I try to live my life with kindness at its core. However, I was definitely inspired by all the incredible acts of kindness during the pandemic that made such a difference to so many during that difficult time. I think it’s important for children to know that no matter how scary and out of control things may seem, they always have the power within them to make a difference by choosing to act with empathy, compassion and kindness.

Also, without giving too much away, I definitely drew inspiration for some of the problems faced by the ‘baddies’ (and I use this term loosely) from my own life. As a parent (and an adult who gets ‘hangry’ from time-to-time!) I’m all too well aware that beneath every child’s (and grownup’s) behaviour are feelings and needs that need to be recognised and addressed with empathy and compassion. It’s a complex area, but I hope that this book will serve as a launching point for conversations between children and their grownups.

Did you find it easy to write in the same style?

I did worry that it might be tricky because I’d never attempted to write a second book in a series before. However, once I’d figured out the overall setup of the story, it was like slipping into a comfortable pair of elasticated lockdown trousers – the story almost wrote itself! I write in a wide range of styles because I like to challenge myself, but I do love the fast-paced rhyme and marching rhythm of the Superhero books. They were both huge fun to write, and I hope that this fun comes across as they are read!

What have the highlights of your published author life been to date? Have you done any school visits?

It’s so hard to narrow it down, but four highlights from the last two years are:

  1. Working with wonderful editors and illustrators. The team at Trigger/Welbeck were a joy to work with, and, of course, Clare Elsom is such an incredible talent – the editor and I would send her some scribbled stick men and notes and she’d come back to us with ‘roughs’ that were beyond anything I could ever have imagined! I’m now working with new teams and illustrators at other publishers and am really enjoying the experience.
  2. The wonderful messages I’ve received from parents and mental health professionals telling me how much they love Superheroes Don’t Get Scared. It means the world to me to know that a story I’ve written has made a difference to even one child.
  3. Seeing a book I’ve authored on the shelves of libraries. Libraries were such an important part of my childhood – there was no way my family could have afforded to keep me in fresh books without our local library – I read Lord of The Rings when I was seven and exhausted our home book collection soon afterwards (including, a regrettable read of Lord of the Flies!). Then during my A-Levels, I secured the coveted job of Library Assistant. So, I cannot stress enough how amazing it was to find Clare Elsom’s awesome illustrations peeking out at me from the library shelf.
  4. All my fabulous author visits. I have been fortunate enough to do quite a few school visits, bookshop events and visits to Beaver colonies and Rainbow units. However, my favourite visit was when I was invited back to speak as an author at my old school, Lessness Heath Primary School in Bexley. I was given the official tour of the school and even allowed in the staff room, but the absolute highlight was the audible gasp that rose up from the year fives and sixes when they saw the old school photo of me in that very hall way back in 1990. I got actual goosebumps!
Lessness Hall

What’s next for you, in terms of writing?

I have a few picture books in development that I can’t talk about yet, but I’m very excited about them. I’m always writing new picture book texts, so I hope that I’ll have a few more to add to those, but that’s out of my control to some extent. I have a couple of middle-grade ideas that I’m really excited about, so I hope to find the time to write them in the Spring.

What advice would you give to your earlier self before you were published?

Take your time and don’t send that picture book text your mum loved to all the top literary agents – you WILL regret it later. But most importantly, find your writing ‘gang’. I would have thrown in the towel long ago in a ‘hangry’ rejection-fuelled strop without my ever-patient writing friends. Any scrap of success I achieve in the future is 100% down to them. You know who you are.

Thank you so much Kate! We can’t wait to read what you publish next!

Thank you!

Superheroes Always Fight Back… Or Do They? was published by Welbeck, 5 January 2023

Buy Now!

ISBN: 978-1783128761

I am very grateful to the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. This voluntary feature contains my honest opinion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: