The Kidlit Interview Series
Oracle Bones is her debut novel for 9-12 years, out Spring 2015 from Simon and Schuster. "Think Romany gypsies, a wildcat called Gryff and an ancient Bone Murmur foretelling dark events…" The sequel, Soul Splinter, will follow in 2016.
THE HERE BE DRAGONS 8 KILLER QUESTIONS
Definitely Eoin Colfer. He'd make the zombies laugh then we could all hang out and chat about leprechauns. Zombies are kind of vicious, too, and Eoin Colfer is about as kind as it gets. I met him once at the Cheltenham Literary Festival and asked him to read an early draft of Oracle Bones. He gave me a piece of invaluable advice and it transformed the book. So yeah, Eoin Colfer would be up there riding shotgun. Him or Philip Ardagh – he’s bigger than the BFG (with a frightening beard to boot) so I reckon I’d stand a good chance against the zombies with him by my side.
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.)
I’d like to go to Svalbard with Lyra Silvertongue. I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights and I’d love to ride Iorek Byrnison across the ice plains. Then I’d hitch a ride in Lee Scoresby’s hot air balloon, and if the time machine didn’t mind waiting I’d love to fly alongside Serafina Pekkala and her witches. Then, if the malfunctioning time machine wanted to swing by Narnia on the way home, I’d be cool with that, too. Always fancied a milkshake with Aslan in Cair Paravel.
3) What’s your favourite thing about writing for kids?
I love letting my imagination go. I had a string of ‘sensible’ jobs before I committed to writing, blogging, and teaching, and I had to button my imagination in tight. Now it runs wild. Even I find it hard to keep up. I also love the writing process – when I’m typing away and I’m completely oblivious to what’s going on around me. I’m right there with my characters – in another world, another place, another story. That’s cool.
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?
Flying. Always flying. I was hang-gliding over Rio De Janeiro the day my book deal was announced. It was the BEST. DAY. EVER. (See photo!) If I could fly right now, I’d soar over a snow-capped mountain then dip down to touch the sparkling sea.
A few weeks ago, as book research for Soul Splinter, I abseiled 75m into a jungle cave in Brazil, snorkelled the 80m-deep lake inside the cave which was home to the world’s biggest stalagmites, then rappelled back up again. (See photo below!) That got the heart going a bit. And I love cliff jumping. Though the 30ft cliff jump I did last summer into a river in the Dordogne was pretty scary. That one wasn’t book research – that was me being egged on by my younger (braver) siblings. And the strangest thing I’ve done? Once I danced a Scottish jig in a gondola in Venice while my friend played the bagpipes. True story.
6) What’s something you wish you’d known about writing when you started out?
I wish someone had told me that it’s okay to take time to research and ‘create’ your story before writing. I used to think that I should dive into the writing then I’d see immediate results. But one of the most important things I’ve learnt is that the thinking time before writing (the researching, the planning, the mulling of ideas) is just as important as the writing. Sometimes I find that hard because I’m dyslexic and I struggle with organising my ideas into coherent patterns. My brain is usually all over the place at the start of a book and I get so exasperated with myself. But even the muddled thinking that you think is just going round in circles and meeting with dead ends – that counts. It all breathes life into the story.
7) What would your daemon be?
AMAZING QUESTION (since Pantalaimon is one of my favourite characters and a very good friend of mine is nicknamed after Pantalaimon). My daemon would be a snow leopard. They’re wise, patient and secretive; everything I’m not. So they’d help me out. In Oracle Bones my main character, Moll, has a wildcat called Gryff. He’s the closest thing she has to a daemon.
8) My books don’t have dragons, but they do have... witchdoctors, tree ghouls, skinshifters, gothslitters – and a wildcat with attitude.
Edith Cohn, author of Spirit's Key!