If you’ve not seen British Comedy Award-winner Paul Kerensa on the entertainment stages at Spring Harvest, Greenbelt, Word Alive, Keswick or New Wine, you’ll have heard words he’s written, on TV shows like Miranda, Top Gear, TFI Friday, Not Going Out or 2017’s Royal Variety Performance. He’s penned grown-up books from So a Comedian Walks into a Church (one of The Independent’s top comedy books of 2013) to recent bestseller Hark! The Biography of Christmas (with foreword by Chris Evans).
Now he’s written his first book for children – in fact he’s written two. Well, with Noah’s Ark, everything goes in two-by-two…
So Noah’s Car Park Ark – What came first, title or idea?
The title! I must have read a hundred or more bedtime books to my kids, including dozens of biblical retellings. Rhyming books are few and far between, but stick in the head more. The seemingly effortless rhymes in a classic like The Gruffalo or the beautiful Paper Dolls make our children want to open them more. So when the satisfying title Noah’s Car Park Ark landed, I quickly googled to check if anyone had done it already. Amazingly no one had – in thousands of years since the original! (Then again, it’s only a few decades since car parks, so that gap of opportunity’s a little narrower). For Bible stories to stick in the head, surely a rhyme is nice, and if you’re going to rhyme, why not rhyme in the title too.
There seem to be two illustrators of these books?
Yes, even the illustrators come in two-by-two! They’re twin sisters and they’re absolutely brilliant. I like to imagine four hands working simultaneously across a big drawing-board, getting the job done twice as quickly. However they’ve done it, they’ve done superb work.
Tell us about Moses & The Exodus Express.
I couldn’t fit a rhyme into that title – at least not one that young children would understand (though for a minute it was Moses Knows Who His Foes Is). But again it’s a rhyming tale, of Moses from baby to sea-parter. Add an express train, and it’s a channel tunnel in the waves that leads our Israelites to their The Promised Land destination.
What are your plans for 2018?
More stand-up, including a fun tour with The Bible Society, and a Bible-based one-man musical I’m inflicting on Spring Harvest this Easter. Not Going Out returns to TVs any week now, then we start writing series 10. Plus more Radio 2 Pause For Thoughts – which are a real pinch-yourself opportunity. Last weekend I was on Dermot O’Leary’s show with a three-minute mini-sermon, then they played Stormzy’s number one hit ‘Blinded By Your Grace’, which is essentially a worship song. That’s nearly ten minutes of primetime Christian content on the UK’s most listened-to radio station. Isn’t that bizarre but brilliant? Weirder still, I passed Olly Murs as I left the studio and he said how much he enjoyed the Pause For Thought, while he was sitting on the loo two minutes ago. Thanks for that, Olly! God moves in mysterious ways…
Find out more on my website. All my books are available from St Andrews Bookshop