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Meet Author

Perth-based author and publisher MONIQUE MULLIGAN is the co-director of Serenity Press, and has worked as a journalist, magazine editor and a children's curriculum writer. She is the writer of the picture book My Silly Mum, and has now released a second picture book with illustrator Veronica Rooke. Here Monique tells us how the forbidden F word resulted in her gaseous new picture book, Fergus the Farting Dragon, and the character with a talent for emitting flower-wilting flatulence. 

What inspired the creation of this fart-belching (rather than fire-breathing) dragon?

Firstly, a forbidden word: Fart. I was never allowed to say growing up but my sons said it all the time, usually accompanied by hysterical laughter.

Secondly, my sons. When I first wrote drafts for this around 2005 – it was originally going to be a chapter book – my sons were fascinated by dragon books almost as much as fart humour (and farts themselves). So, even though I grew up not being allowed to say that F word (as well as the other one), I found myself writing a book about a dragon who couldn’t breathe fire but could arguably do something even better. 

Dragons are usually fierce and formidable – what’s Fergus like, except for his tendency to pass flower-killing wind?

Ah! Fergus is a friendly, but farty, dragon who also has a fierce side, which pops off when he is made fun of by the other dragons. He definitely doesn’t like being the butt of others’ jokes! He also has a strong sense of justice and community, and will seize the opportunity to put the wind up someone who’s doing the wrong thing.

Who are some of your favourite dragons in fiction?

Falkor from The Neverending Story, Eustace Scrubb from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and baby Norbert from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Who didn’t want a baby dragon after reading that?


How did the creation of Fergus the Farting Dragon compare to the writing of your first picture book, My Silly Mum?

I actually wrote them both around the same time and shelved them for years because I was too scared to share them. My Silly Mum was something I wrote when my life was in a challenging place and I missed my mum, and I started remembering the real-life silly things she did that made me laugh (or blush with embarrassment). My Silly Mum was written fairly quickly, but when I retrieved it from the bottom of the drawer years later, I spent a fair bit of time fixing it. Fergus was rewritten in a weekend after I children at a Book Week event told me they loved the idea and wanted me to read the book to them the following year.

Did you have an idea of what Fergus looked like, or did you leave that to illustrator Veronica Rooke to magic up?

Oh, yes! I had a strong image of Fergus in my mind and Veronica presented me with a few initial sketches before I said, ‘That’s Fergus!’ Her original sketches were of an older, leaner Fergus, but I wanted a younger, cuter Fergus full of cheeky expressions.

Do you have a favourite illustration or page of Fergus the Farting Dragon?

It would have to be the nuclear fart. Veronica (who turned out to have a real knack for drawing fluffs and puffs) and I had the funniest ‘fartwork’ exchanges via email, including gems like ‘I’d like to see a mischievous or self-satisfied or straining face on Fergus’, ‘Let’s have an explosion of colour and farty clouds!’, ‘Maybe a bit more fartiness?’ and ‘At the moment, the (fart) blast isn’t WOW enough. Can you make it nuclear-like?’

Whenever I read the book to children at schools, they know what’s coming on that page – they’re wriggling around in anticipation and calling out – but they always burst into laughter.

What do you want readers to get out of Fergus the Farting Dragon?

Belly laughs, both for the story and the ‘fartwork’.

Fergus the Farting Dragon is published by Serenity Press, rrp $12.90. Use the code GRMBKT10 at Booktopia's checkout to get 10% off already discounted prices.

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