Truck driver. Teacher. Doctor. Farmer. Shopkeeper. Firefighter. When it comes to the world of work, kids’ books tend to feature a fairly easy-to-grasp rotation of jobs. But a new story from copywriter and lecturer Andrew Boulton, Gasp! founder Giles Edwards and illustrator Andy Stagg is set to bring the advertising creative crashing into storybook land.
Adele Writes an Ad is about a little girl whose mum has a cool job (submarine pilot) and whose dad has… a confusing and mysterious job. He’s an ad creative. In the story Adele and her dad join forces to crack a brief. Andrew says the book was inspired, in part, by the fact that he’s always found it hard to explain to family members exactly what he does - and it’s something he’s come across with his own daughter. On the other hand, he also hopes that the story can go some way to opening the career out to a broader range of people, presenting it as a viable career.
The book is currently in the pre-orders phase and has ended up on Amazon’s ‘Hot New Releases list’. The team hope that it will make a splash in the highly competitive field of children’s literature. LBB’s Laura Swinton caught up with Andrew to find out more...
LBB> What triggered the idea to write a kids book about copywriting? A lot of good ideas often just stay ideas... why were you committed to bringing this one to life?
Andrew> Like most copywriters I’ve gone through life with nobody really knowing what I do. My daughter certainly doesn’t (and she pretends she doesn’t care, but I know she does really). There are so many children’s books about so many different occupations – including some terribly dull ones – that we thought there was a space for a book like ours. There are so many writers and copywriters and marketing creatives – and now they can read a book with their children that’s a little bit about our world and what we do.
LBB> Who are you writing the book for - kids or parents who work in advertising?
Andrew> I like the idea that a copywriter or a marketing creative can pick it up and see a little bit of what we all do in the book – and I love the idea that children with parents and grandparents in this business can get to see the fun stuff that comes with copywriting (without any of the meetings or amends etc.). Also, from my day job as a Creative Advertising lecturer at the University of Lincoln I see all the time how few young people even know that a career called copywriting exists. I’m trying to introduce it to more A-level and university age writers, but if we can start to hook a few when they’re six or seven that’s even better.
LBB> How did you develop the character of Adele and her dad?
Andrew> It’s basically me and my daughter, Nelly (who’s five and would much rather read about a zookeeper than copywriting). She has an incredible imagination and I’d love her to find something creative to do with her life if that’s what she wanted. My co-author, Giles Edwards, has daughters as well so it felt right that we had a smart and curious girl rescuing a dim-witted dad.
LBB> As a writer, I think kids books present a unique challenge. Where the Wild Things Are is only 338 words. The Hungry Caterpillar is 224 words... Has the experience of writing the book sharpened your copywriting skills?
Andrew> I teach our students that, when you’re a copywriter, it’s a terrible idea to only ever write marketing copy. You need to stretch and sharpen your skills as a writer in all sorts of ways, which is why writing poems or short stories, or children’s stories is an excellent way to learn more about yourself as a writer. I’ve always tried to do different sorts of writing, partly as an escape, partly because I get restless when I’m not writing something that interests me. Sitting down to do this properly was certainly an eye opener though – it’s far harder than I thought it was going to be (which was a good challenge, but a terrible situation for my inherent laziness).
LBB> What were you looking to capture in the art direction/illustration style? Did you do the illustration or collaborate with an illustrator?
Andrew> I am ridiculously fortunate to have created it alongside Giles Edwards, who designed and published my copywriting book ‘Copywriting Is’
earlier this year. When he read the story, he just instinctively knew what to do with it, and we enlisted the help of an amazing illustrator called Andy Stagg
to help us create the style. My involvement with the visuals was just looking at stuff and saying it was brilliant, which is probably about my level as an art director. To be honest, I couldn’t and wouldn’t have ever done it without Giles, he’s the one that turned it from a badly spelt word document into a wonderful, real-life book.
LBB> Looks like the book is doing well - being picked as a hot new release by Amazon and I've seen it's for sale elsewhere too. What's the reaction been to the book?
Andrew> We’re still on pre-orders, but the reaction has been mind-blowing. We’ve been lucky enough to get some support and shout-outs from some of our favourite writers and creatives, and we’re getting loads of very positive messages and comments. The author Giles Paley-Philips (a proper Giles) gave us a lovely quote for the back cover. The biggest brainwave (Giles’, sadly, not my mine) was to enlist Gem Higgins
to record a free audio version to go with the book – she has done an incredible job, which is lucky as Giles and I have terrible, unlistenable voices. It’s extraordinarily nerve-wracking to launch a book into the world, I think I actually prefer the time when it was just sitting on my laptop in complete anonymity. But the reaction has been a dream.