How Wandsworth cousins Anna Walford and Alexandra Moore have created heroes out of a sausage dog and a greedy Norfolk Terrier
When did you two first discuss the idea of writing a children’s book together?
Anna Walford: In 2015, Alex moved to Battersea with her sausage dog Maximus. I am the owner of Hero, a Norfolk terrier, who I walked daily on Wandsworth Common. Alex mentioned she was going to write a book about Max and the dogs he had met. I was excited about the idea, so together we decided it would be great fun to try and put pen to paper – and that’s how The Tails of Max and Hero began.
Was it tough to get off the ground?
Alexandra Moore: A definite yes! The jump from the fun of discussing the storylines when walking on the Common, to the reality of finding the right illustrator and knocking on too many publisher’s doors (we are still knocking!) was definitely helped by lots of laughter and the odd bottle or three of wine.
How do you go about writing together?
AM: It all starts off on a walk with regular coffee intervals from the Skylark Café. The chit chat would continue to the kitchen table and by midday the wine glass is half full. By 6pm we’ve usually covered three storylines and that’s when the fine-tuning begins. We then go away and ponder over what we have written and undoubtedly the storyline is altered and tweaked numerous times before going under the scrutiny of close family. It’s then road tested on our friends and their children.
What can you tell us about the ‘real’ Max and Hero?
AW: Max is super loyal and incredibly needy. He is Alex’s shadow and if he isn’t looking for food he’s found snuggling on her lap. Hero is ruled by his stomach and has an extraordinarily long tongue. He’s extremely stubborn and slow to move unless there is a squirrel to be chased. Although they are different in personality, the saying ‘opposites attract’ certainly rings true with these two.
How important are Leo Delauncey’s illustrations to what you write?
AM: Leo has a real knack of bringing the personalities out, and through his drawings, he brings their personalities to life. No wonder he’s the lead graphics artist at MailOnline. We are really lucky he liked ‘The Tails’ and was keen to work with us.
What adventure did Max and Hero go on in the first book?
AM: The first book was an introduction to their characters and the friends they would meet in the park. I guess you could draw a parallel with the first day of school with all the excitement and nerves. They meet some curious characters that tell some ‘Tall Tales’. They also learn about PawLaw (the do’s and don’ts) of the dog world; for example fox poo is a delicious thing to roll in, sniffing bottoms is the correct way to say ‘hello’ and magical acorns will make you glow in the dark… or will they?!
How have kids responded when you have gone into schools?
AW: Animals are always a good topic with children and in particular dogs as a lot of them might have one or know of one.
Do people know you and the dogs around Wandsworth?
AW: More often than not people will know of Max and Hero and greet them before us, which is wonderful.
Is Wandsworth the perfect area for dog owners?
AM: We are obviously totally biased, but Wandsworth Common is genuinely beautiful, with delightful locals and their friendly dogs. It has a real community feel with Skylark Café that welcomes dogs and offers tasty doggy treats.
So on to Tail Two – what can we expect this time round?
AW: Fun, adventure and lots of giggles with some exciting new characters, including a sunburnt mole, a beautiful sly fox and a magnificent stag with a coat hanger on his head.
When does the book hit the shelves?