The Screen Thief – Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty

This is a fantastic book which really highlights how screens can take over our lives. The Snaffle is a wonderful character; I loved how she was so harmless yet seen as such a threat! Everyone in the city is not happy that their screens are being destroyed and going missing, but the lonely Snaffle just wants to make friends. Will she manage to in a town of technology?

I am excited to have Part Two of a brilliant Q&A with the authors. If you’d like to read Part One first, please find it on Steph’s blog, here.

Your books are filled with wonderful rhymes – what’s the process of writing a rhyming story like? What challenges come with writing rhymes, and what do you enjoy about it?

I LOVE writing in rhyme! It’s a real challenge – a bit like doing a very tricky puzzle – but I find it incredibly satisfying. For me, hitting on a great idea for a story is harder than the actual writing part. I have quite an old-fashioned method; I write in a notebook initially, using the left-hand page to write and edit the story. On the right-hand page, I write the letters of the alphabet in a vertical column, as this helps me note down rhyming words. I particularly like matching two words which rhyme but are spelled differently, as well as rhymes which add humour or take the reader by surprise. It’s really important that the rhymes feel natural, not forced, and that they serve the story (and not the other way round!). 

When you’re writing in rhyme, you also have to make sure that the scansion – the rhythm of each line – is spot on, and that the stress falls in the right places. The best way to check this is to read it aloud or, better still, get someone else to read it to you. Alison Green is an amazing editor, and she always helps with any fine tuning. 

I didn’t set out to write rhyming stories, but The Snatchabook came to me in rhyme, and since then I haven’t looked back. I’ve always loved words (I used to teach languages), and finding the right ones for a rhyming text is a bit like choreography; you have to make the words dance to the rhythm while telling a story which grips the reader. Writing The Screen Thief was a joy.

The Snaffle gobbles up the screens she steals – was this an idea you had from the start? Why did you decide to have the Snaffle eat the screens, rather than just steal them? 

I was thinking about how we consume technology, and that’s when the idea came to me: what about a creature which literally consumes it? I could immediately see the potential for humour and mayhem. At first, I imagined a character which grew in size as it devoured technology (not just screens, but all kinds of machines), but I quickly realised that a small creature who starts out by munching somebody’s phone because no one will play with her would make a much better – and less scary – protagonist. The Snaffle gets a sore belly from all the screens she eats, but she doesn’t change in size.

If the Snaffle had just stolen the screens, maybe she would have had to give them back (as the Snatchabook returns the books), but I wanted the end of this story to highlight all the other ways we can have fun without screens, as well as the importance of connecting with others off-screen. 

If you liked the sound of this book, buy it here.

Emily x

📚 Book gifted by publisher

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