Foto: Tara Kemsley
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Mention three fun facts that your fans maybe don’t know about you
1 – I hated reading as a child, so much so that I used to scribble rude things in all my books. I only found a love for it when I was in my early twenties. Now, I spend a lot of time trying to encourage reluctant readers to give books a chance by sharing the story of how I discovered a love for reading.
2 – I have over forty different editions of Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie – my favourite book of all time.
3 – I love the colour yellow. It is everywhere in my house and in my wardrobe.
How long have you been writing? And what started it?
I spent many wonderful years reading and recommending children’s books as a bookseller in London and my passion as a reader soon developed into a desire to write stories of my own. The inspiration came when I was packing to go on holiday and I imagined how fun it would be if I could crawl inside my suitcase and arrive at my destination instantly. I began thinking about what other extraordinary things you might do with other everyday objects and the basic building blocks for The Uncommoners series developed from there.
Who discovered you? (Did you contact publishing houses? How was the process?)
I contacted two literary agents with the first draft of my book, just to test the water. I wasn’t sure if my manuscript was any good or not. I was stunned, and very happy, when they both wrote back offering me representation. I chose one agent, and they did the work of contacting the publishers and putting my book out on submission.
How many books have you published (so far)? And which genre?
I have had two middle-grade fantasy books published so far, with the third to be published in July 2018. They are part of a series called The Uncommoners. They have been published in many different languages around the world.
Why this story? What made you choose this specific theme?
I remember watching some young children playing in the bookshop – using books to build bridges for their toy cars. Children have the incredible ability to see magic in everything around them and I liked the idea that even the most mundane object could be hiding a remarkable ability.
What inspires you to write?
A lot of the inspiration for my ideas comes from things I stumble across when doing research. When I was writing The Crooked Sixpence, I visited different markets across London and did a lot of research on the history of trade in the UK. One of the ancient market traditions I read about, was that when a travelling market would arrive in town, the townspeople would raise a glove on a flagpole to signify the start of trade. This was why I made gloves an important symbol in Lundinor. To flesh out the feel of the Uncommoners world – of their language and customs – I also took inspiration from old English nursery rhymes and cockney market slang.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Daemon Voices by Philip Pullman. It’s a collection of essays about writing – very interesting!
Mention 3 book titles that you wish to recommend.
We are all stardust by Stefan Klein
The Matilda Effect by Ellie Irving
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
When is your next book going to be published?
My next book, The Uncommoners: The Frozen Telescope will be published in the UK in July 2018 and around the world soon after.