Four Questions with Simon Lamb

When an offer comes through to host extra content as part of a blog tour, I never say no! What a great way to get further insight into the author’s perspective and thoughts. Check out the four questions asked of debut author, Simon Lamb.

From where did the inspiration for a collection of fifty poems, each written in exactly fifty words, come?

Almost a decade ago, I responded to a challenge to write a story in exactly fifty words by writing a poem. It was a fun constraint, so I wrote a second, and then a third. And then the mathematical part of my brain suggested that a set of fifty such poems would be pleasing as a concept, and thus the idea at the heart of the book’s construction was born.

How long did it take you to write the fifty poems?

I wrote the first set of fifty poems over the course of a year in 2014–2015. I revisited the original crop over the pandemic: I edited some of the poems; I removed some of the poems; I wrote some new poems. It was a very creative period for me. The last poem I wrote for the book was written in December 2021. Rather magically, it is the poem that now closes out the book: Snow Globes. So, to answer the question, I worked on the collection for a long time!

How does it feel to have Chris Riddell’s art illustrating your poetry?

Honestly, I feel like the luckiest poet ever. Chris Riddell illustrating my debut collection! What?! Chris is a master of his craft, of that there can be no question, and he has delivered fifty remarkable illustrations that interpret and illuminate the poems in the most intriguing ways. He doesn’t go for easy. He doesn’t go for obvious. Forgive the blatant bias, but in this book I believe Chris has created the most extraordinary sequence of art: not so much a hand for the reader to hold, but an outstretched arm inviting them in . . . and beyond.

And, finally, how does it feel to hold your debut poetry collection in your hands?

Amazing. Quite literally! Because it really is a beautiful physical product with its textured, de-bossed cover, and I’ll be forever grateful to Scallywag Press both for building the book of my dreams and for allowing me to be so influential in its construction throughout the entire process of its publication. I think our combined love oozes from it. But more than how it feels for me to hold the book in my hands, I’m excited for those with tiny hands and those with not-so-tiny hands: the readers, young and old. To think, from that first fifty-worder came this book, a book for everyone.


A Passing On of Shells by Simon Lamb, illustrated by Chris Riddell out now in hardback (£10.99, Scallywag Press)

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