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A. F. Harrold: The author behind the Japanese animated feature ‘The Imaginary’

A.F. Harrold's children book was adapted into a Japanese movie in 2023. (Supplied)
A.F. Harrold's children book was adapted into a Japanese movie in 2023. (Supplied)
A.F. Harrold's children book was adapted into a Japanese movie in 2023. (Supplied)
A.F. Harrold's children book was adapted into a Japanese movie in 2023. (Supplied)
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21 Mar 2024 09:03:49 GMT9
21 Mar 2024 09:03:49 GMT9

Amin Abbas

DUBAI: A.F. Harrold is an English poet and author who wrote the 2014 novel ‘The Imaginary,” which was adapted into a Japanese animated movie by Studio Ponoc in 2023. 

The children’s book discusses the story of Rudger, an imaginary friend, and Amanda, his real friend who dreams of him. He starts to fade away after Amanda’s car accident but gets rescued by a stray cat named Zinzan, who takes him to the local library, where he starts to find ways to go to Amanda in the hospital. 

“It’s a story I’m very fond of,” the author told Arab News Japan. “It’s one of my books that has been translated into more than a dozen other languages, always published alongside the illustrator’s amazing art.”

“I’m delighted that the Japanese edition, published by Poplar, got found purely by luck in a Tokyo bookshop by Yoshiaki Nishimura, the head of Studio Ponoc, and it struck a chord with him, strong enough for him to commit the studio to making the motion picture,” he added. 

After the 2017 movie adaptation of the 1971 book ‘The Little Broomstick,’ Studio Ponoc started working on the movie. “A film and a book are different things in terms of imagining and designing the characters in different shapes,” the author reflected. “I was very pleased with the hard work Studio Ponoc put into the characters and environments in my novel to make them attractive to the audience.”

Harrold was one of the guests at Dubai’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2024 that took place in February, where he did sessions about his career in poetry. This was his second visit to the event, following his first visit a few years ago.

He shared with Arab News Japan that he started writing as a way to express his feelings and emotions in an artistic art form. “I occasionally wrote funny poems, and people actually said nice things about those,” he said. 

He started going to poetry events and mic nights to establish his career as a poet, which led him to run poetry workshops and write stories for kids. 

“I have always written different sorts of things,” he said. “I write comedy, both poems and stories, because I enjoy making people laugh.”

His first children’s novel, ‘Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Ran Away From the Circus,’ was published by the leading independent publishing house Bloomsbury. 

About the challenges that he faced during his career, Harrold said it was mainly self-doubt. “Not knowing where this book is going, not knowing if it works, not knowing if anyone will enjoy it. I’m fortunate in that I haven’t had any major life upheavals during this time,” he shared. 

For those interested in becoming authors of children’s books, Harrold recommends reading contemporary books to understand the modern children’s literature landscape.  

The author is currently preparing a collection of short poems for children, which will be released in October. His latest novel, titled ‘The Worlds We Leave Behind’ and illustrated by Australian multi award-winning artist Levi Pinfold, will be out in paperback in August. 

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