Zizou Corder is Louisa Young and Isabel Adomakoh Young, whose names are too long to fit on the cover of a book. Louisa is an adult and has written five adult books and far too many newspaper and magazine articles; Isabel is a kid and has written mostly schoolwork. The original Zizou is Isabel’s Lizard. This is its first novel. They all live in London. Only one goes to school.
Louisa Young was a freelance journalist for many years, writing for national newspapers, motorcycle magazines and women’s magazines. She studied history at Trinity College Cambridge, and has of course worked as a street performer, a motorcycle messenger, a cocktail waitress, a singer, and so on. Her first book, A GREAT TASK OF HAPPINESS: THE LIFE OF KATHLEEN SCOTT, was a biography of her grandmother, the sculptress widow of Scott of the Antarctic. She is also the author of a romantic adventure trilogy for adults and THE BOOK OF THE HEART, a cultural history of our most symbolic organ. LION BOY, cowritten with her daughter Isabel, is her first children’s novel. She lives in London with her daughter, their lizard Zizou, several spiders and a dead tortoise.
Place of birth and birthday:Zizou was born on January 12 1996 up a tree outside a Hungarian circus tent somewhere in London. Isabel was born in Paddington where the Bear lives, on January 12 as well! Louisa still hasn’t been born yet, as she is living her life backwards now, but she expects her birthday to be on March 25.
Favourite Book:Zizou is very keen on the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 1911 edition, and anything by Eoin Colfer and Meg Rosoff. Isabel like Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson. Louisa is mostly reading Plutarch at the moment, but she’s not sure he’s as good as The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster.
Favourite Song:Zizou is a big fan of Iggy Pop and specially likes Lust for Life. Louisa prefers Scottish border ballads about young men dying, and also Fluorescent Adolescent by Arctic Monkeys. Isabel likes so many songs that this site would explode if she wrote them all down.
Favourite Film:The Corder family like nothing better than all settling down together to watch Some Like it Hot for the 785th time, though Zizou does think it is quite derivative of Palm Beach Story, and would like to put in a word for Snakes On A Plane.
Treasured possession:Louisa mostly treasures her external memory drive, which is Isabel. Isabel likes her little blue iPod. Zizou is rather unmaterialistic, and thinks that objects are not really that important in life – it’s thoughts and feelings and love and family and Mother Earth that matter. And lettuce.
When did we start writing?Louisa wrote a very bad book about a mouse when she was eight. Mostly it said what furniture he had on his houseboat. She rewrote it later and it was much better. Isabel started when she was three, but she got Louisa to do the actual writing. Zizou actually invented writing, in the second of his hundred and nineteen lives so far, when he was a Mesopotamian God called Nebo.
Where do our ideas and inspirations come from?Out of the compost heap. A little mouse brings them on a silver tray with a lid.
Three tips to becoming a successful author:Work hard.Read lots.Be useless at anything else so you have no choice but to make it work.
Favourite place:Louisa’s is in bed, eating Tiramisu with a long spoon. Or failing that in the bath. Or round the table at her friend Charlotte’s in Italy, eating and drinking and singing beautiful songs. Or up a tree with a cushion and a goodbook. Or seat 3120, Humanities Two reading room, the British Library, London WC1. Isabel’s is wherever all her friends are, preferably on a rock by thesea in Zakynthos. Zizou’s is a mysterious little bar he knows in Budapest.
Hobbies:We’re not sure we have any hobbies, though Zizou did once make five Empire State Buildings out of cardboard, and it’s possible Louisa’s other career as a not-very-good opera singer is really a hobby.
What would we have been if we weren’t an author?Zizou would have stayed in the Circus, on the Flying Trapeze. Isabel is going to be rockstar, a doctor and the first female Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Louisa would have liked to have been an undertaker as she thinks she could be kind to people when they are very sad. Or an opera singer.