Isla Fisher's cure for writer's block? Croissants
Marge the mischievous babysitter is back! The second installment in Isla Fisher’s Marge in Charge series, Marge in Charge and the Stolen Treasure, will take readers back into the world of Marge, Jemima, and Jake Button as they set out on a string of adventures and encounter hilarious mishaps along the way. The delightful children’s book, released this week, is filled with short stories that are sure to leave both parents and children laughing.
EW caught up with Fisher to talk about the book, her writing process, and her best editors. Read on for more, and be sure to purchase your copy here.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was the inspiration for the second Marge In Charge book? Did your kids have any input into the plot?
ISLA FISHER: The real star of my second book — aside from Jemima and Jake’s wacky and fun babysitter, Marge — is their cousin, a pirate baby called Zara. My brother was staying with us in London while I was writing, and his mischievous toddler inspired Zara. All the quirky, funny, and sweet moments in the series are stolen from the tiny people around me. Kids make the most wonderful editors. If the story becomes boring, they just walk out of the room. If my real editor, who’s brilliant, asks me to cut something, but the tiny people I have read it to have laughed in that moment, then I won’t trim it. I am not writing the books for 30-year-olds, and I just want to please my audience. The Marge stories are a bit like The Cat in the Hat meets My Naughty Sister, which are books I love to read to young children.
Do you still make up bedtime stories for them? How do you keep things fresh?
There’s only so long you can survive on impressions of your children’s friends’ parents or pretending to be Peppa Pig and oinking [your] way around the house. So I began making up stories in funny voices, and Marge, this naughty babysitter who breaks all the rules Mummy leaves for her, just became the most popular character in the house.
What is your writing process like? Do you have any rituals or routines?
Writing is not a solitary thing for me. I’m never completely alone. I have a dialogue with my publisher and editor, and I talk about Marge all the time. I write in a bookshop near my house. I sneak away at 10 every morning and type away. It’s never quiet there and I chat to people, which gives me the perfect excuse to take breaks. Whenever I get writer’s block I just eat another croissant. … I am the worst procrastinator! I can make up the most amazing excuses of “urgent” stuff that needs to be done: reorganizing the cupboards, or Googling a potential ailment I may develop in old age, or online shopping for something obscure. But the thing that always sparks my creativity is fear of my deadline.
What are your family’s favorite books?
Wow, that is such a hard question! I find the Horrid Henry series hilarious, and Jeff Kinney, who wrote Diary of a Wimpy Kid, is brilliantly funny. Laughter is such a wonderful way to connect with kids. From the time they are babies, they laugh at anything from blowing a raspberry on their tummies to trying on a silly hat. As they get older, they love slapstick, and as they develop language, they love rhymes and self-defeating jokes. But stupidity is the universal bedrock of humor. Everyone young or old from any culture enjoys laughing at someone they feel is stupid. Winnie the Pooh is my favorite book character. He is just adorable: a loveable idiot. I still laugh when I read his lines to my kids, no matter how many times I’ve heard them before. A.A. Milne is one of my favorite childhood authors, along with Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton.
You’ve said in the past that you loved the Mr. Men books (which my son also loves!). Who is your favorite character, and why?
Mr. Men were the first books I fell in love with as a kid. I adored the illustrations and would copy them and draw my own versions of the characters. The books also fit so nicely into a tiny hand and are not too heavy. The repetition is good for learning diction, and my favorite character as a kid was Little Miss Chatterbox. I could definitely identify with her! [Laughs]