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Pitt the flea

Simone Ludwig is a piano teacher and an author of children’s books. Her first book in German, “Pitt – The small Flea” has been immensely successful across Germany and is the story of a flea which lives in a piano.

Manasi Gopalakrishnan: How did you come up with the idea?

Simone Ludwig: I have been giving piano lessons for a long time now. My experience is that children not only like to play the piano but are also interested in the technical details of the instrument. That is what led to the idea of a book. So I decided to develop a story explaining the workings of the piano through an exciting character and his journey.

Where did you draw your inspiration from?

Simone: “Children need characters they can identify with.”

Children need characters they can identify themselves with. In my job I create characters to teach children a lot different things. For my first book ” Pitt the small flea – the keyboard-adventure” I needed a very tiny character, which would be able to crawl into the darkest corner of the grand piano. Pitt the flea came into my head very spontaneously.

For me the most important thing was the deeper connection between the character Pit and the music itself. Often, you find fleas on animals like dogs, which also have an owner, so this connection wasn’t that difficult. In my story, the owner of the dog “Rex” is Mr. Hansen, who is the caretaker of a big concert hall.

Rex always has to stay in Mr. Hansen’s office, as dogs are not allowed in the concert hall itself. And this is the place where Pit was attracted by the beautiful music. Pit is curious about the music. His head is buzzing with questions as to where the music comes from, how melody is created and one day he decides to go on a journey to find the answers to his questions.

Tell us something about the place where your book is set in?

The story is set inside a grand piano and parts of it take place in the concert hall. The atmosphere during a concert has an important role to play.

Which part of researching the book was most interesting and why?

I have been playing a grand piano for over 30 years now. I already knew the most important things about the instrument. My brother is a piano builder and so I have been able to ask questions about parts of the instrument, which I didn’t know in detail. That was practical, but the most difficult part was the photo-session. My idea was to have close-up shots of the inner parts of the instrument that could be used as a background for the illustrations. It was really funny to see the photographer lying on top of the grand piano.

How long did it take for you to write the book?

The story formed in my head over some weeks. And then I just sat down and wrote it all in one go. I had gone back and keep refining it bit by bit and changed a few things. I also had to take a “creativity break” for a few weeks to get back to the book with new ideas.

What is your writing schedule?

After publishing my first book, “Pitt the small flea – the keyboard adventure” in November 2011 we also released the audio book in May 2012. Right now we are working on Pitt’s second adventure, where he explores the world of strings in detail – the violin. I have finished writing the book and we are working on the illustrations and the photo shoot.

Can you tell us about the challenges in getting your first book published?

It is very difficult to find a publisher these days, especially if one is a newcomer. Many publishers liked my book but were skeptical about the implementation of the art work the way I had imagined it. So we finally decided to publish it ourselves. My husband and I created our own publishing company “ludwig2verlag.”. We had our friends involved in our team as photographers, illustrators and sound and music artists. Looking back it was the best decision we made because the book now looks just as I had imagined it to be.

Interview: Manasi Gopalakrishnan

Editor: Grahame Lucas


05.04.2013 | 13:50