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An Interview with Catherine Burigo, author of Pino the Pigeon

burigo

I grew up in London with my mum, dad, sister and two brothers. I loved writing stories and poems as a child and read voraciously. My favourite book was Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. After school I went to Oxford University and studied English Literature. I wanted to become a writer then but it felt too difficult and uncertain so I went to Law School instead and became a solicitor. I took a career break when I had my children and went back to studying. I did a Certificate in Psychotherapy and Counselling and also started a MA in Creative Writing. I now have three children and two dogs and, together with my husband, we live in Wandsworth in London. I started writing Pino the Pigeon when my son was a baby and he is now twelve years old! I got there in the end!


You can buy Pino the Pigeon here.


Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I think the writing side of me comes from my dad. He always loved words. He did the crossword puzzle in the newspaper every day, looking up words in his big red dictionary and thesaurus. My big sister also influenced me, encouraging me to read by buying me books for birthdays, Christmas and Easter. One year she bought me the Puffin Book of Verse for children. I learnt “The Owl and the Pussycat” by heart and can still recite it verbatim!

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

My first job was as a Saturday girl in a shoe shop on Kings Road. I was 16 years old and studying for my A-Levels. That job gave me a life-long infatuation with shoes!

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

The first song, when Pino leaves his nest feeling sad and rejected, would be “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. When Pino meets Rat, his life begins to turn around. Their friendship helps Pino remember that he can fly. I could imagine Rat singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman to Pino or “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts. The final song, when Pino and Rat have triumphed over Worm and are doing a high-five, would be “I’m Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. It’s the ultimate feel-good song.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

The one thing I hope readers take away from the book is that it’s okay to be different, in fact our strengths often lie in our differences. Rat wouldn’t have been able to fly on Pino’s back without Pino’s tuft of hair. It turns out to be the perfect handle for Rat to hold onto. The book is about celebrating our differences and not allowing people like Worm to get us down.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

The most rewarding part of publishing my book was giving it as a surprise Christmas present to my children. They had no idea I was publishing it! It was touch and go whether it would be ready in time for Christmas but we just made it. I filmed them opening it and that video will always be a very special one in our family album. Lots of squealing (mainly from me) and disbelief. I’m so pleased that a book originally written for them now has a wider audience and hopefully can spread some positivity and joy.


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