“Faeries, myth, magic and the most scrumptious sweets ever imagined…”
The trailer for The Sweet Adventures of Henry P. Twist gives us a glimpse into the life of Henry Peppermint Twist and his adventures with faeries after his retirement. Henry’s Sweet Adventures are sure to please readers of all ages – not to mention dessert lovers everywhere. The cinematic book trailer is voiced by award-winning actor, Jim Dale, who is famously known as “the voice of Harry Potter”. If you’ve ever wanted to transport into the mind of a book character, even if for one minute, that minute is now.
B.W. Van Alstyne, the author and a former chef himself, answered a few questions we just had to know after watching the book trailer.
What inspired the faerie tale that became The Sweet Adventures of Henry P Twist?
The idea came right on the heels of an announcement on the passing of a beloved writer of children’s literature, and one of my favorites, Roald Dahl. The Sweet Adventures of Henry P Twist started out as an impromptu tale told to my then 4 year old daughter (who is now 27). After telling the tale to her for a few years, I decided to sit down and write it. But I wrote it as a screenplay first. Those close to me that read it suggested I write it as a book first. 20 years later, here we are.
How did your own work experiences contribute to the stories and adventures in the book?
Right after high school I had enrolled in culinary school in the Boston area where I grew up. I studied for a year then enlisted as a cook in the United States Navy. Every job I have had, for 15 years of my life, was food related. It is a dream of mine to go back and study pastries at Le Cordon Bleu, and to one day own my own patisserie.
Did you try to make any of the pastries described in the book?
Yes. As readers will soon discover, on the last few pages of the book there is a recipe for a gingerbread house. Though I did not include it in the book, I did make Sugarplums over the Christmas Holiday.
Did you have any input from your own children in the writing process?
I must say that I am very fortunate to have an overactive imagination and people surrounding me who keep feeding it directly and indirectly. My daughter, when I was creating sweets for the book, suggested I create a “Goodie Cookie Bar” for naughty children. My 9 year old son, who is autistic, reminds me of what it was like to be that young. He makes me remember that I must never forget the Never Land. He makes me tell him a story almost every night; stories I make up about him mostly.
You don’t often see faerie tales about retirees, but Henry’s adventures are sort of the “second wind” in his life. What was the inspiration behind Henry’s character?
Something my great-grandmother said to me one day while I was helping my grandmother with her, really stayed with me and I just had to put it in the book: “I can’t understand how one parent can take care of several children, yet several children can’t take care of one parent.” That got me really thinking about the state of aging in this country. The underlying theme throughout the book is that it doesn’t really matter your age. You are as old as you think and feel. It’s all mental, really.
Did you grow up reading faerie tales?
Ooh, I did. Mum read stories from the Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Anderson and Aesop’s Fables. My favorites were the story of Rumpelstiltskin, The Three Billy Goats Gruff (that tale always frightened me, but I always managed to get through it and begged for it each night), and of course Hansel and Gretel.
Are there any more adventures planned for Henry?
Oh yes. I am working on the second book to the series. The working title is “Henry P. Twist and the Island of Milk and Honey.”
Keep an eye out for Henry’s ongoing adventures, and pick up a copy of The Sweet Adventures of Henry P Twist to get started!
Interview by Melanie Germond.