Michael Morpurgo: Facts and Trivia

Here are some facts about Michael Morpurgo, the UK children’s author of War Horse, Kensuke’s Kingdom, The Butterfly Lion and Private Peaceful (to name just a few).

  • Several of Michael Morpurgo’s books feature wars and conflicts, and Michael’s interest in military matters developed at an early age. His Uncle Peter died at the controls of a bomber plane, and his Uncle Francis was the leader of a French Resistance cell.
  • Michael enjoys watching television, particularly documentaries.
  • Michael Morpurgo doesn’t read all of the reviews of his books that appear in newspapers, magazines, on the radio and on the internet. He used to, but he kept forgetting the praise and focused too much on the negatives.
  • Elephants are his favourite animal.
  • His favourite writers are Ted Hughes (the poet), Rudyard Kipling, and Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island.
  • Michael can only write when it’s really quiet.

Suzanne Collins: Facts and Trivia

Here are some facts about the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins.

Suzanne Collins comes from a military family. Her father served in Vietnam when she was a child and he went on to make lieutenant colonel, her grandfather was gassed in World War I and her uncle was injured in World War II.

She lives with her family in Connecticut.

She is married to an actor called Cap Pryor, and they have two children.

Collins completed a MFA in dramatic writing at New York University.

She worked for Nickleodeon on several shows, including: Clarissa Explains It All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo.

When Charlie McButton Lost Power is the name of the picture book she wrote in 2007.

She was named by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people of 2010

Underland Chronicles

From 2003 to 2007 Suzanne Collins wrote the five books which form the Underland Chronicles:

  • Gregor the Overlander
  • Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane
  • Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
  • Gregor and the Marks of Secret
  • Gregor and the Code of Claw

Suzanne Collins was 38 when she started to write Gregor the Overlander.

As a result of her screenwriting background, she finds dialogue easier to write than descriptive passages.

Her father consulted with her on the military strategy and alliances in the books.

The Hunger Games

The three books which make up The Hunger Games trilogy are:

  • The Hunger Games
  • Catching Fire
  • Mockingjay

The Hunger Games was pitched to publishers as a trilogy and the main story arc (gladiator game – revolution – war) was planned from the beginning.

The Hunger Games is partly influenced by the Theseus and the Minotaur story, and by the historical figure of Spartacus.

As part of her research Collins read numerous books on wilderness survival and books about Roman gladiators, such as: The Life of Crassus by Plutarch.

When writing The Hunger Games Collins knew from the beginning that she was going to have to kill characters. She says this is a horrible thing to have to do and she hates writing death scenes.

Writing and Reading

Although Suzanne Collins does plan her stories before she starts the first draft, she leaves space and room for her characters to develop. She has said that she is willing to adapt her plan during the writing process.

She usually writes for between three and five hours a day, stopping work in the early afternoon.

When she was a teenager her favourite novels were:

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Germinal by Emile Zola
  • Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

She has also spoken about how much she admires The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Further reading:

7 Facts About Dick King-Smith

Here are some facts about Dick King-Smith, the author of some very well-loved children’s books, such as The Sheep Pig (which became the movie Babe) and The Fox Busters.

  1. Dick King-Smith has three grown-up children, Juliet, Lizzie and Giles, and more than ten grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
  2. Before he became a fulltime writer, Dick King-Smith worked as a farmer, a primary school teacher, a shoemaker and a salesman.
  3. The Fox Busters was his first published children’s book.
  4. Dick King-Smith has written more than 100 books for children, most of them featuring animals.
  5. He writes his books in a tiny room at the top of his house, Diamond’s Cottage.
  6. Every morning he writes for two hours in pen on plain white A4 paper. In the afternoon he types out what he’s written.
  7. When he was a farmer, the pigs were Dick’s favourite animals. He even has a bronze statue of a pig in his garden.

Update: Dick King-Smith died on 4th January 2011. He was 88 years old.