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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Interview Talkety Talk: Ben Hatke on Nobody Likes a Goblin

NobodyGoblinThe problem is this: In a given year hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of children’s books are published. Of these, a percentage are really extraordinary. Of that percentage, a smidgen get reviewed on this site. Though I began my blogging career doing a review a day (because I WAS CRAAAAAAZY!!!), I’m lucky if I can get one out a week any more. That means that I end up not praising some truly fantastic fare (except possibly in my end of the year 100 Magnificent Books lists).

Now as a general rule I don’t really do interviews on this site, but once in a while I’ll make an exception.  Interviews can be a nice way of highlighting some of those books I probably won’t review but really enjoyed.  One of those books in 2016 was Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke.  A rousing, teasing play on high fantasy novels, condensed into a 40-page picture book, Ben Hatke takes one of the most loathed and abhorred creatures in all of literature and gives him his own day in the sun.  Not literally.  Goblins aren’t much for the sun.  Here now, in a quick and easy interview, is Ben Hatke.

Betsy Bird: So goblins are pretty much the ultimate underdogs of the
fantasy world.  I think it’s safe to say there aren’t any famous
goblins out there (always excepting the Goblin King from Labyrinth, of
course).  As I recall, there were goblins in your previous picture
book JULIA’S HOUSE FOR LOST CREATURES (another story about magical
creatures finding their place in the world).  Why the goblin love?

Ben Hatke: I think you answered that! Who doesn’t love an underdog? Especially a scraggly, scrappy, dirty little underdog?

I think maybe it’s Important to love goblins because the world is full of them. and we all have a little goblin in us.

BB: I’ve read this book multiple times to my 5-year-old
daughter and, naturally, she’s absolutely fascinated with the
reluctantly saved/kidnapped princess who is grumpily carried about
with the other treasures found by the adventurers.  What’s her story?

BenHatke

BH: What IS her story?!? There’s a bust of a woman in the treasure room that has a green jewel. The same green jewel is on the woman’s dress. It’s the tiniest of clues that she was turned into a statue. But beyond that? Was she once Skeleton’s true love? We may never know…

BB: Any indication to do a sequel?  Or, on a related note, do
you have any future fantasy-inspired picture books in that noggin of
yours?

BH: Oh boy. I’d like to visit Goblin again, but possibly in a different format. As for picture books -I love them. There will certainly be more.

BB: What’s next for you?

BH: Lots! The first of a two-volume graphic novel called Mighty Jack releases in September, with the second volume (which is finished) releasing in 2017.

I’m currently working on a middle grade novel that will be out sometime in 2018.

BB: Thanks, Ben!  And thanks to the good people at First Second.  As an end-of-the-interview treat (like having an extra bit after the credits roll) here is a hitherto unseen, rejected cover for this book.  I like it quite a bit.  There’s more than a smidgen of pathos at work here:

NobodyGolbin2

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About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.