Ashleigh Barton on her Vegetarian Vampire!

Article | Issue: Nov 2023

ASHLEIGH BARTON is a bestselling children’s writer and author of  What Do You Call Your Grandma?, which was shortlisted in the 2022 CBCA Book of the Year Awards. Her latest book, Solomon Macaroni and the Vampire Vacation is the second book in this series and follows vegetarian vampire, Solomon Macaroni and his family!

Good Reading for Kids caught up with Ashleigh to talk about her new book.

ABOUT THE BOOK

You’ll never believe where SOLOMON MACARONI is heading…

The world’s friendliest vegetarian vampire and his six mischievous cousins are going to Paris with Uncle Dracula. They can’t wait for the fine food, fabulous fashion and fang-dangled art. But Uncle Dracula is not himself. When the kids see the Mona Lisa, they get an idea to cheer him up… and it’s their naughtiest one yet.

With the help of an overly friendly hotel manager, they hatch a ridiculous plan to steal the famous painting. Before they know it, they’ve accidentally unleashed mayhem, with music-hating skeletons and grudge-holding gargoyles roaming the streets.

Can Solomon and his favourite cousin Lucy restore order to Paris before evil reigns forever?

MEET ASHLEIGH BARTON

 

We’re reunited with Solomon again – what’s new for him in this novel?

Solomon has big challenges to face in this novel and an all-new moral dilemma! This story sees Solomon and his eccentric family travel to Paris for a holiday in honour of Solomon’s late aunty. Of course, things don’t go according to plan, and when Solomon and his cousins decide to try cheer up a miserable Uncle Dracula with their naughtiest scheme yet, they accidentally unleash magic back on Paris. Naturally, chaos ensues from there and it’s up to Solomon to save the day (again).

 

Your novel follows Solomon Macaroni, a vegetarian vampire! What inspired this character?

RGB_Solomon-Macaroni-2_FINAL-FONT-COVERI came up with Solomon Macaroni (including his name!) when I was about eight years old. The character I created back then was definitely a vampire, but he didn’t act like a typical bloodsucking kind of vampire, and he was also extremely friendly and polite. For some reason I never forgot about this character – I can still picture the drawing I did of him in my school notebook – and I have wanted to write a story about him for years. I felt I owed it to my eight-year-old self to keep the character accurate so to explain why Solomon and his family acted more like (very old) humans than vampires, I created a world where magic no longer exists in its full capacity. When building on Solomon’s character I had a lot of fun exaggerating the version I invented as a child – things like playing up how seriously he takes manners and making him a vegetarian who loves tofu Bolognese and chocolate.

 

Solomon and his cousins head to Paris. What kind of mischief do they get up to on vacation?

The mischief on vacation starts small – a prank involving Solomon, who is testing boundaries, and the hotel manager. It escalates to a Mona Lisa heist that has very unintended consequences. While Solomon and Lucy try to put Paris back together, the other cousins continue getting up to mischief including climbing up the side of the Eiffel Tower, just like their mother – famously known as the original prankster – did decades earlier.

 

What do you love about Paris?

Paris has so much to offer – history, art, culture and, of course, the food. I’ve been to Paris four times in completely different circumstances (once as a child, twice as a backpacker when I was 18 and then again on my honeymoon) and I feel like I’ve barely even scratched the surface. It was really fun being able to create a magical version of Paris that draws on real aspects of the city like the Catacombs.

 

In your novel we see vampires, music-hating skeletons and grudge-holding gargoyles – what do you love about folklore?

I love how folklore stands the test of time and the way folklore is like a creative look into the past. I also love the way it is appropriated and borrowed in literature and pop culture. Vampires, for example, have undergone so many changes from the very original stories and I find it really exciting to see how many different interpretations there are.

Who is your favourite character? Why?

Gosh, it’s a hard to choose a favourite character – that would be like choosing a favourite child! I really love all these characters – they’ve been so much fun to write, and I think despite their antics, deep down, there are good qualities in all of them. In this particular story, poor Elvis goes through a lot, so I do have a soft spot for him this time around. I also love how dramatic Thyme can be and how hard Dracula tries to be a good parent. Uncle Dracula delivers a lot of the humour (without him intending to) but every now and then he’ll also say something profound, and his heart is always in the right place.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashleigh_Barton-2Ashleigh Barton is a bestselling children’s author from Sydney, Australia. After completing a law degree, Ashleigh decided she preferred books and spent the next six years working in publishing where she ran marketing and publicity campaigns for internationally renowned authors and illustrators.

Now she writes books of her own, in between looking after her three small children and freelance copywriting. Her picture book What Do You Call Your Grandma? has been shortlisted in the 2022 CBCA Book of the Year Awards.

Visit Ashleigh Barton’s website

Author: Ashleigh Barton

Category: Children's, Teenage & educational

Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: University of Queensland Press

ISBN: 9780702266300

RRP: $16.99

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