It’s a family affair – an interview with Lionboy author Zizou Corder

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 by Tricycle


Complicite’s family adventure Lionboy is based on a trilogy of books by Zizou Corder. But Zizou is in fact the penname of two authors: mother and daughter writing team Louisa Young and Isabel Adomakoh Young. Here they answer a few of our questions about what it was like writing Lionboy, and seeing Complicite transform the novels for the Tricycle stage…

Complicite’s adaptation of the Lionboy trilogy is back this Christmas at the Tricycle – what are you most looking forward to this time around?

Isabel: I can’t wait to see and meet the new Charlie! It was so funny getting to know Adetomiwa, who played Charlie the last time around, because the character was my alter ego growing up. Now I’ll meet Martins (the new lead) and be face to face with another another version of me, confusing! Also Complicite is such a brilliant company for inventiveness and ideas, so I’m sure more time in the rehearsal room will have yielded some exciting new theatrical wizardry.

The Lionboy story crosses continents and involves everything from a floating circus to a shady global corporation. Where do you get your ideas from?

Isabel: I think it was basically my nutty imagination growing up. We wrote the books when I was very young, seven years old, and I was an only child so I made up a lot of friends and adventures for us to share. In the bedtime stories that came before the book, there were leprechauns and monsters too, and Charlie could speak to all animals. It was chaos!

Louisa: Yup, I nicked them off Isabel. And she nicked them off me. Then I organised them, and she told me where I was going wrong.


Isabel, what was it like becoming an author at such a young age?

Louisa: She loved it! Didn’t you?

Isabel: It was very exciting, suddenly we were traveling to all the countries we’d been published in, and signing books, even going on TV. I remember when we signed the publishing deal they sent a guy dressed as a lion to our house with a whole hamper of Lion bars, that was pretty cool.

Did you learn anything about each other from writing the books together?

Isabel: It was my first time getting to know mum’s professional side I guess – although she wasn’t calling me for meetings in the living room or anything! I’d never read her previous books as they were a bit beyond me, so it was wonderful to see how she created stories. We had one of our first and only disagreements over a character in the book, too. But mostly all that time writing and promoting never felt like work – it was just an adventure!

Louisa: Everything I know, almost, I learnt from Isabel.

Lionboy is set in the near future – ten years on from writing the first book, does the future look any different to you now?

Isabel: A lot more of the world – conscious stuff came from mum of course: I was a bright kid but not that well-informed! I’m learning a lot more about politics and global issues, and I think Lionboy shines a light on a lot of things. If anything, the urgency of the climate issues has grown more than we might have expected, and big Pharma is growing more powerful. I hope the kids that loved and love Lionboy will be motivated to help save our lovely planet.

Lionboy is on stage at the Tricycle Theatre this festive season from 17 Dec – 10 Jan. Click here for more info and to watch the trailer.

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