Daily Mail - - DR MAX -

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.

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