Zizou Corder Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Zizou Corder
photo credit: Justine Stoddart

Zizou Corder

An interview with Zizou Corder

(Both) - Describe the collaboration process?

Isabel: It didn't really seem like work - we'd just chat and have ideas and talk about what the people are going to do next, and how they feel, and whether there should be another shipwreck and should we bring the whale in yet and what we want in the circus. Then mum writes it all down and I read it and tell her if it's any good. Then she gets stuck and comes to talk to me again. Lots of things get into the book - Mum's boyfriend Robert is a film composer and he wrote some tunes for my lizard Zizu and they ended up in the book too - they're the circus music and it's printed in the book so you can play it. And there's a Ghanaian nursery rhyme that my Grandma knows. And there are some really good maps and diagrams.

Louisa: That pretty much describes it.

(Both) - How/Why did you decide that the protagonist would be a boy?

Louisa: He just was. Some people are. (Actually it went like this: 'Tell me a story mum.' 'What about?' 'A naughty boy called Charlie'.).

(Isabel) - Where did you get your ideas?

Mum found one growing in the compost heap, all cold and sad and lonely in its little coat, so she brought it in out of the rain and now its blossoming. Also there's a little green fairy that lives in the old motorbike at the bottom of the garden and sometimes he delivers them on a silver tray.

(Louisa) - How does it differ from alone?

Constant access to another imagination. Someone else knowing the book and the characters as well as you do, and minding as much as you do about what happens. Someone to kick you when you get stuck, and say things like 'But he can't know that, he doesn't get the letter until after they've left the ship.' And 'four doesn't go into forty-two, actually'.

(Louisa) - There is a subtle call to activism in this book. How do you broach issues such as the environment with Isabel?

We talk about everything all the time, always have. She knows that it's stupid to waste plastic bags when they're going to survive for 100 years, in a hole in the countryside somewhere. She notices litter and filth and animals on the news that are dying out. Kids can see for themselves a lot of what's going on. I just try to answer her questions honestly.

(Both) - Since this story began as bedtime stories six years ago, how did you keep the story alive? Were you able to remember the details? How did the story evolve?

Anything worth remembering stays with you, and everything else just merges and evolves and comes back in a different form. You don't really worry about remembering details from long ago, because the story when it comes tends to come out in a rush. That said, there is a notebook now. And if a story needs 'keeping alive', you might as well let it die - either it's alive and kicking, all on its own, or you're wasting your time.

(Isabel) - What suggestions would you give kids on writing or collaborating with other kids on writing?

Read loads of good books. Then read loads more. Then write your story. (If possible get a parent to do the typing). Then read more. But don't pinch ideas, that's cheating.

(Both) - What is your favorite part of the book?

Louisa: I like the pages. I think Isabel prefers the cover.

(Isabel) - Do you plan on making writing your career path? / Louisa?

As a journalist/writer, how would you feel if Isabel took writing on as her profession?

Isabel: I don't know - I'm only ten!

Louisa: I'm a parent - I just want her to be happy. Totally unreasonable ambition for any human being.

(Both) - Do you have cats?

Nope - we're both allergic to them. There's some cats in our street we like though. Missy, who comes when Isabel calls her (it's not quite talking to each other) and Freddy, who's very cheeky and thinks all the catbowls on the neighbourhood have his dinner in them.

(Both) - How did you come up with the pen name? We know that the first part is your pet lizard, but how did you come up with your pseudonym?

The original Zizou is a French footballer - Zinedine Zidane, nicknamed Zizou. He was captain when France won the World Cup. Corder is from cor, latin for heart - Mum's last book was about the heart.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"

    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  132Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist


Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.