Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Anteater That Didn't by Greg Allum and Quirky Joe Review + Author Interview with Greg Allum (Children's, 9 years +, 9/10E, semi-short 'n' sweet review)

The book cover

One of the illustrations (I think...found it online & can't remember if it's in the book or promotional material)
 November 2013, Kickstarter funded, Hardback, Review copy

Summary from The Anteater That Didn't website
 Nigel and Les meet by chance, this attracts huge interest of the local community as nobody has ever seen an anteater eat a cream tea. Buxton Philpott, Editor-in-Chief of ’The Good Cafe Guide’ gets wind of this and decides its time to review the café and sample the delights....Unfortunately, due to a rhubarb shortage they have to come up with a very special ingredient as an alternative to feed the gargantuan Buxton Philpott. The result leads to a hilarious and macabre, yet triumphant ending.

Nayuleska's thoughts
Part of me thinks it's odd that despite not particularly liking the style of illustration in this book I still wanted to review it. I was intrigued by the purple anteater, who is 90% adorable - I don't like the moustache- and the fact that because of this book a Canadian tea company, are involved with the series and have created a signature blend for the story - you've got to admit that is cool!

. I'm honestly glad I ignored the illustrations in deciding to review this because it is an elegantly descriptive read. Yes, I did ignore the illustrations as I read it, all bar two weren't my cup of tea-pun intended. It is funny in several places, especially those involving the anteater who didn't eat ants. Besides being a great story teller (I'm not sure that his claims to fame are all true), and a cake lover, he provides valuable insight to Les and comes up with a clever scheme to save Les from the food critique (who is grotesque in many ways).

On a side note I prefer having a title that isn't separated by the cover illustration and having the author's name on the cover, but other than this and the illustrations it is a worthwhile, touching read.

Find out more on the dedicated website and in the interview below this review.

Suggested read
For more cafe based adventures try The Comic Cafe by Roger Stevens (Children's, 10 years +, 10/10E)

Author Interview with Greg Allum

It was with great pleasure that I was able to ask Greg some questions about his self-publishing journey to go alongside this review. 

1) Where did the inspiration come from for the anteater? It's a relatively unusual animal.

Inspiration has often come from other authors such as Shel Silverstein and Roald Dahl. Why an anteater? It was a late night discussion I was having with a friend and I’ve always anthropomorphised objects and animals. After finishing my last book of poetry and short stories, I wanted to concentrate on something somewhat innocent and child like on its first look but once you delve deeper there is a melancholic and beautiful story of an old man coming to terms with the death of his partner.

2) Can you tell me about your decision to self-publish?
This is the 4th book I’ve self-published. I’m an advocate of this route, why? Well mainly because we live in an age where it is possible to fund, design, print and distribute your own work. Plus getting that elusive six-figure book deal wasn’t any closer, so I decided to explore printing highly collectible and beautifully made books.

It’s a challenge! Not only do you have to be tenacious but once the creative element has finished you then have to focus on the business and marketing side to ensure you make a return on your books. I have spent about £15000 on self-publishing, hence why I chose to run a Kickstarter crowd sourcing project for The Anteater That Didn’t. This enabled me to de-risk the project and build up a fan base, and excitement, ahead of the big release in December.

Self-publishing is hugely challenging yet hugely rewarding. My tips would be to plan meticulously and learn some basics of marketing.

3) How did you end up having a tea company not only endorse your book but also come up with a unique tea blend?
Luckily enough one of the pledgers on Kickstarter happened to be starting a tea company in Ontario, Canada. She loved the book and the character so much, and as it’s about tea and cake, or a large part is, it seemed a perfect fit.

At this current time I am trying different blends, we’ll then decide on a particular taste and all the packaging will feature the main character from The Anteater That Didn’t.

4) Will there be a sequel?
The Anteater That Didn’t is the first in a series of five books. All depends on the popularity of this first print run. I’ve printed 500 limited edition copies and already 200 have gone in the first week, I’ve been lucky enough to get some presence in Waterstones and other independent book shops in Brighton, but of course am looking to extend that reach further afield. Nayu: Whoohoo! Fab news :)

5) Which food and drink do you enjoy while working on your latest novel?
Like the main character, in fact like all the characters in the book, I am obsessed with cake and tea. I drink about 15 cups a day and need a sugar fix most evenings. I particularly enjoy Assam tea, strong and black tea with a dash of milk, just like Nigel De Montfort in The Anteater That Didn’t.

Thank you for answering these question Greg - I hope that has everyone even more intrigued about The Anteater That Didn't!  I'm certainly looking forward to the next book in the series. 

No comments: