MY BATTLE OVER A PREGNANT GUINEA PIG
PADDINGTON aside, the children’s stories that have given me most satisfaction to write are the ones about Olga da Polga, the guinea pig with a fondness for tall tales.
But Olga also caused one of the biggest arguments I have ever had with a publisher. In Olga Meets Her Match, she goes to stay with a male friend called Boris.
At the end of the book, much to her surprise, she gives birth to three baby guinea pigs. I thought I had handled the whole thing very tastefully, but my American publishers thought otherwise. They asked me to insert a few paragraphs in which Olga discusses with Boris the possibility of having a family together before retiring for the night. Which would, of course, have ruined the surprise ending.
I put my foot down on behalf of my characters. I don’t think guinea pigs are deeply into family planning, and I saw Boris as a male chauvinist pig, in a world where it’s every pig for himself. I also knew Olga was able to look after herself and, if she had wanted to say no, a sharp nip in the right place works wonders. So I changed publisher.