The Kidlit Interview Series
Nigel's new novel, The Black North, comes out next week on the 5th of June. A dark fantasy adventure, set in a land called the Divided Isle where a military force has invaded with an army of magical creatures, it tells the tale of Oona Kavanagh, who sets off to rescue her brother after he is kidnapped by the Invaders and their Briar-Witches. She has with her a rather grumpy talking jackdaw (that transforms at times into a rather grumpy old woman) and a magical stone of tremendous power: it reveals truth, nightmares, and can bring into being anything the holder can imagine... and this stone is the one thing the Invaders and their King are desperate to possess.
Hmmm...someone who knows those scenarios well – Charlie Higson maybe? Darren Shan? Stephen King? Or perhaps someone I’d love to see with a shotgun, blowing zombies to bloody bits: Virginia Woolf.
2) Look, I got a time machine on eBay! Where do you want to go? (Said time machine may possibly malfunction and leave you there. Possibly. It was *very* cheap.)
The Paris of Joyce and Hemingway and Wilde. Red wine and writing – what could be better!
3) What’s your favourite thing about writing for kids?
They are the best audience, simple as that. Honest, critical, passionate, sharp. And I feel very lucky to be read and criticized and (hopefully!) enjoyed by such a special readership.
4) A witch has cast a spell on you (sorry about that) and you’ve woken up as a character in a children’s book – what’s your special talent or power?
Teleportation. Could see loved ones any time I wanted, no matter where they were and even for a moment. Could see the world on a whim! (And save a lot of money in the process).
5) What’s the scariest or strangest thing you’ve ever done?
I did a number of scary-strange things when I was travelling in New Zealand: jumping out of a plane and off a bridge were two that leap to mind (and leave me sweaty-palmed with the recollection!). I should say that I had a parachute on when I leapt from the plane and a bungee around my ankles when I threw myself off the bridge.
6) What’s something you wish you’d known about writing when you started out?
Patience! I wish I’d known patience. A plot can emerge slowly, the shape of story showing itself only with time, characters creeping tentatively out of their shells. It’s a trick to learn how to wait... and wait and wait. And then some very exciting things can start to happen...
What’s something you wish you’d known about publishing?
Something similar to that writing lesson – that things can seem to happen slowly, and then suddenly all at once. And that after everything – marketing, sales, Twitter, blogging, likes on your Facebook page, reviews, Amazon ratings – what matters most is the writing.
7) What would your daemon be?
I’d like to think it would be something so very flattering and exciting, wise and watchful! But, as Pullman tells us, we don’t always get the daemon we want. So who knows – probably a shivering Chihuahua!
8) My books don’t have dragons, but they do have... clockwork cats and jackdaws that transform into old ladies.