Interview with Mem Fox about Hunwick’s Egg
Q. What inspired you to write Hunwick’s Egg?
A. I was asked to write an Easter book for the Australian market, but as usual, in the writing of any story, where I start is totally different from where I end up. It took me seven years to write this book although it’s only 437 words.
Q. Why did you choose ‘Hunwick’ of all strange names?
A. I worked at Flinders University with a man called John Hunwick who was obsessively dedicated to saving the bilby, a tiny native animal that looks like a cross between a rabbit and a mouse. He also started the movement for an Easter bilby instead of an Easter bunny. So that’s why I chose the name Hunwick. And that’s why Hunwick finds an egg ~ the Easter idea had stayed in my mind. (John Hunwick, by the way, is so rapt about this book he can barely breathe!)
Q. In Hunwick’s Egg, Hunwick makes friends with the egg and spends his time talking to it and taking care of it. The egg listens well and is good friend. While he and his neighbours patiently wait for it to hatch, Hunwick realizes that the egg is not an egg at all but something quite different, yet he loves it just the same. What might children feel about Hunwick’s relationship with the egg?
A. Whatever they want to feel: sad, happy, full of hope, comforted, or encouraged. The beauty of this story is that children will take from it whatever they need, depending on their own loneliness when they read it, or their own friendships, or their need for good friends in their lives.
Q. Hunwick is a rabbit-eared bandicoot, or a bilby, and he lives in the Australian desert and is on the endangered species list. How do you choose which animals to use for your stories?
A. They have to be emotionally right for the story. This story could not have been about a pig or an elephant, for instance. It had to have a very sensitive, adorable little creature as its main character.
Q. Hunwick’s Egg is your second collaboration with illustrator Pamela Lofts—your first being the wildly successful classic Koala Lou. In your opinion, why do you two work together so well?
A. Her genius matches mine!! (Joke!) Who knows?
Q. How many books have you written for children?
A. Hunwick’s Egg is my 29th picture book. I have five ~ or is it six?! ~ new picture books coming out over the next seven years or so. I’ll be really, really old by then, even older than I am now.