Caleb Krisp

Ivy Pocket
Fun Stuff
Caleb Krisp
Ivy Pocket header 2
Caleb Krisp
Caleb Krisp
Caleb Krisp was raised by militant librarians who fed him a constant diet of nineteenth-century literature and room-temperature porridge. He graduated from the University of Sufferance with a degree in Whimsy and set out to make his mark in the world as a writer.

Years of toil and failure followed, until, following a brief stint working in a locked box, Caleb moved to an abandoned cottage deep in the woods and devoted himself to writing about the adventures of a twelve-year-old lady's maid of no importance.

Caleb has a strong dislike of pastry chefs and certain domesticated rabbits. His only communication with the outside world is via Morse Code or kettle drum. He trusts no one.

Were Ivy or any of the other characters in the book inspired by real people? 
I'm certain that there are elements of real people in my characters – after all, I know some ghastly people. But if I were to ascribe the inspiration for Ivy to anyone I personally know, I'm quite certain they would lock me in stocks and beat me with egg whisks (or at very least, staple me to a cork board and read Star Trek fan fiction until my eardrums voluntarily self-perforated).
You must have had a lot of fun dreaming up some of the scenes in this book. Do you have a favourite scene?
It was tremendous fun. As your question clearly implies, I'm a magnificent sort of writer, so I find it extremely difficult to choose a favourite scene – for there are so many astounding literary moments. However, for the purposes of being cooperative and congenial, I would say favourite moment was probably when Ivy drops from a great height into a birthday cake and splatters a hall full of aristocrats with cream and icing.

Were there also challenges in writing the book?
A great many. I tend a herd of vaguely agoraphobic alpacas and they were ruthlessly demanding during the years I spent writing Anyone But Ivy Pocket – which I put down to professional jealously and whatnot. The other great challenge was writing a first person narrative that kept the reader several steps ahead of the narrator. Which is tricky to do, but wonderfully good fun.

Where do you write?
I spend most days writing in a locked box. It's windowless, confined and deeply uncomfortable  but the light from my laptop illuminates the interior beautifully and there is nothing there to distract me, apart from a stuffed rabbit and a hat box.

Tell us a little about how you worked with illustrator John Kelly on the book. Did any of the elements in his illustrations surprise you?
I seem to recall that John came to the project quite late in the piece. My dealings with him were of the indirect kind – I try and keep all my dealings with people as indirect as possible (carrier pigeon is my preferred method). But from the very first rough sketches that I was sent, it was clear that John's illustrations were imbued with humour and whimsy. He works quickly and responded to any and all concerns in record time. It's always fascinating to see a visual representation of your characters through the eyes of an illustrator. I worked with a different illustrator for the US edition and I found her work equally dazzling.

What do you hope kids get out of reading Anyone But Ivy Pocket?
My hope is that they are both amused and slightly appalled by Ivy's behaviour. If they are compelled to keep turning the page, I would be hugely thrilled. If they recognise that Ivy is a girl at the very bottom of the social pecking order in nineteenth-century England –  a nobody of dubious lineage all alone in a harsh world, who simply refuses to accept her station or concede that she is anything less than wonderful, brave, clever and beloved, then all the better.

In your Acknowledgements in the back of the book, you say that books ‘are a refuge and a wonderland … they thrill and comfort … break hearts and kindle hope.’ What books were significant to you when you were a child? 
I read everything I could get my hands on as a child and whole worlds were built in the wonderland of my imagination thanks to each and every story. Those characters and places still reside there and they happily coexist with the characters and worlds of my own books. If I were to nominate a favourite childhood book it would be the one concerning four children, a country house and a wardrobe. It featured a majestic talking lion and a large quantity of turkish delight. I spend many happy hours lost inside its pages – and I still venture there from time to time.

Q&A with Caleb Krisp
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