Monday, May 7, 2012

Janet Foxley Author Interview

Photo Content from Janet Foxley

Janet Foxley is the winner of the third annual London Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition. Having written all her life, and how in her sixties, Janet is thrilled to see her first novel, Muncle Trogg, a funny story about the smallest giant in the world, published. She lives in an old farmhouse near Carlisle, England, with her husband, and has three grown children.

What prompted you to write children's fiction?
I started making up stories in my head before I knew how to write them down. I don’t know now whether that just happened, or whether it was triggered by the stories that were read to me. I started writing seriously when I was at home with small children and reading a lot of children’s books. I’ve never really wanted to write adult fiction, or it would probably be more truthful to say I’ve never had a grown-up idea.

Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Leicester in the middle of England, but moved every two or three years throughout childhood with my father’s job, so I have no real roots. Currently I live in a former farmhouse in the north west of England, about 20 miles from the border with Scotland.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
From the day I started school I wanted to be a teacher, but I changed my mind very quickly when I tried a bit of teaching as a student. I always wanted to write novels as well, though.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I learned to enjoy learning. I still enjoy learning, although sadly I forget a lot of what I have learnt!

What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on your writing?
When I was about ten (nearly 60 years ago) I loved the Swallows and Amazons books by Arthur Ransome in which two families of children play at being explorers on their camping and sailing holidays. They were an influence in that they started my addiction to children’s books, but I don’t think they had any effect on the way I write because children’s fiction – and indeed childhood – is so different now.

For those who are unfamiliar with Muncle Trogg, how would you introduce him?
Muncle is a ten-year old giant who has the misfortune to be only the size of a human, or Smalling, as the giants call us. Giants leave school at ten, so Muncle is facing a future where he is going to find it harder than ever to fit in.

What gave you the idea for Mount Grumble?
Because the giants are afraid of the Smallings they live out of sight, under ground. It was only as the story developed that I realised they were living in a volcano – something the giants don’t realise themselves, despite the hints that the mountain itself drops by ‘grumbling’ from time to time.

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
Like anyone who has an irresistible urge to write, I am always looking for new subject matter. Since I am lazy about research I tend to favour fantasy subjects where you can make everything up, and on this occasion I’d decided to write my fantasy around a traditional fairy-tale figure, the giant. Then I looked for my plot and the strongest idea I had was ‘the giant who was too small’. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to explore the plight of the person who is – or feels he is – a misfit in society.

What's the loveliest thing you have ever seen?
Two things - my newborn children.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
The most satisfying things in life have to be worked for – it is more satisfying to earn a million dollars than to win a million dollars.

What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
The King’s Speech – a sympathetic portrayal of someone struggling in a role he never wanted and managing to succeed – a bit like Muncle.

Where is your favorite place to read/write?
I write on my PC in a little study overlooking my garden. I have to sit at my desk to get into a business-like frame of mind. My favourite place to read is in bed – I always look forward to bed-time if I’ve got a good book on the go.

What book are you reading now?
My Sister lives on the Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher. This is an amazing debut novel for teenagers about the destructive effect on the rest of the family of a father’s obsessive grief for his murdered daughter, seen through the eyes of the younger brother who can’t really remember her.

A topsy-turvy fairy tale about a small giant on a big adventure!

Let's get ready to grumble!

Mount Grumble is where the giants live. But (contrary to what you might think, maybe because of their name) not every "giant" (see?) is, um...big. In fact, Muncle Trogg is so SMALL that all the other giants make fun of him for being (uh-oh) people-sized. And toss him around like a football!

Fed up, Muncle Trogg climbs down Mount Grumble to take a look at the Smallings (that would be humans) he supposedly looks like. What he discovers is...

...a sulky green dragon and a terribly sensible girl? But when Mount Grumble is put in harm's way, it's up to little Muncle to be the bigger smallest giant, prove that size doesn't matter, and somehow save his home!

"Sparkling. A cracking tale." -- The Times of London

The premise of Janet Foxley’s funny, clever, and unique story of Muncle Trogg is about a giant who is small…small enough that he could pass for a human. He is constantly picked on and held upside down by his younger brother Gritt and because of his size, he gets bullied by his fellow classmate giants at school.

The book takes the reader on a journey to a whimsical place called Mount Grumble, where the giants live on top and the humans (smallings) live below. Foxley’s rich descriptive text formulates a real image of the unusual world that surrounds Muncle. Readers will immediately fall in love with Muncle from the very first pages. He is a ten-year-old little-giant that is hopeless at just about everything and can’t figure out why he is so small.

When The Wise Man Biblos shows him “smallings-clothing”, Muncle tries them on and they fit! Intrigued to find out more about the smallings, he decides to dress as one and goes into the town that resides below his. He meets a smalling named Emily and he learns more about his own world and theirs. His constant visit to the smallings town reveals a tragedy waiting to happen that will surely destroy his world of Mount Grumble. With this information on-hand, Muncle devices a plan to save the day while keeping Mount Grumble a secret from the smallings.

This highly descriptive book is truly enchanting. The giants are superbly grotesque. Foxley describes them with warty skin and block-shaped heads. Even for a tiny giant, the author manages to make Muncle a very likable character. It is a very humorous, delightful, and sensitive story. This will appeal to children and the young-at-heart. Muncle’s predicament was the perfect setup for a feel good tale that will have readers rooting for poor Muncle to come out good.

You can purchase Muncle Trogg at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JANET FOXLEY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive one copy of Muncle Trogg by Janet Foxley.


  1. 'Winnie the Pooh' by AA Milne (which I loved), that's what i remember anyway.

    The Rafflecopter calls me 'Margot' since it is accessing my facebook where I am 'Margot C' and is connected to another email: annazed10 [at] yahoo [dot] com

  2. The first I really remember is "The Giving Tree"

  3. I was given "101 Fairy Tales" as a child for Christmas and I still remember some of my favourites today!

  4. Well, that is definitely hard for me to remember. The first I remember reading myself was The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss.

  5. winnie the pooh is the book i really remember reading :)
    thanks for the giveaway :)

  6. thats hard to remember i guess its either somebook by enid blyton or indian stories of akbar birbal

  7. Probably a Dr. Suess book but its hard to remember :) Thanks for the giveaway!

    -Rachael Henzman

  8. I read a lot of Sesame Street and Disney hard-covered books as a child. One of my all-time favorites is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

  9. Among the first chapter books that I remember reading were the animal adventure stories by Thornton Burgess. I still love them!

  10. Oh gosh, I'm not sure? My earliest memory is of reading Judy Blume books... or was it Little House on the Prairie first? I'm not sure of the order :)
    Tracy Awalt Juliano

  11. I will be 58 on Monday and remembering the first book I read, well it was a long time ago. I remember reading Nancy Drew.

  12. Adventure of Tom Sawyer. :-) Thank you for the giveaway!

  13. Where the Wild Things Are.

    Les Johnson

  14. Sesame Street books!
    Thanks :)
    kimberlybreid at hotmail dot com

  15. Tip and Mitten my first grade primer (about 50 years ago)

  16. The Velveteen Rabbit - it was given to my mom during my baby shower and has always been my favorite!

  17. Thornton Burgess books - they had been my dad's when he was a child, he read them to me when I was very young, until I was able to read them myself!! Great memories! :)