(I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading her books – click on the image or title to read my reviews)
Where did you get the inspiration for the series?
I used to teach a Year 4 class and one of our literacy units of work was about stories set in imaginary worlds. I started developing the idea for a story along with my class and by the end of two weeks I had written a very short story. The teaching assistant who worked with me at the time enjoyed it so much she asked me for a copy of the story.
After that, I filed it away in my brain till the following year. More ideas came to me and I changed the story a bit. A short while later, the elves started telling me more and more details and I ended up writing my first book. One book led to another and another and then one more. I have now published four books in the series altogether.
What is your writing process?
A little idea sparks in my brain and I start collecting images of places and people. Sometimes I find them on the internet but often they are photos that I’ve taken myself. I have an idea of where I want the story to go, but often the characters make decisions that lead the story in a slightly different direction to my original intention. I never plan the stories out but sometimes write short character descriptions to help me understand who they are.
Once I’ve written the first draft, I pass it on to someone to proofread and edit it for me. After years of teaching children to write and marking their work, I’m quite good at spotting mistakes in my work and improving what I’ve written but you can never really do this entirely well for your own work. You become a bit ‘blind’ to it all, reading what you believe is there as opposed to what you’ve actually written.
Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?
I always use the computer. I have a wonderful program called Scrivener which helps me to organise all my work. I not only write the book in the program but I can also keep all my research and images in there so it’s all in one place.
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
My favourite character has to be Cranus, the old tree spirit. He has great wisdom yet he is also gentle, kind and funny. Cranus is really a combination of two people in my life whom I loved very much. I’m happy because he seems to be a popular character with my readers too.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
I suppose I’d really like to be Agnil. I’d love to be able to travel through time and space into other worlds and choose to be visible or invisible at will. She’s quite a strong, mature girl for her age. She is brave but still retains a vulnerable quality.
How and why did you choose the name Agnil for your main character?
The first time I wrote the story she was called Gloria but in the second version she became Agnes. They’re both quite old-fashioned names. I wanted her to have a name that stood out from other girls of her age. When I finally wrote the first book, I decided she should have a name that could change from being a human name to an elf name. In our world she is Aggie, but her real elf name is Agnil. All the elves have names that end in ‘il’ and I made most of them up from suitable Basque words or names with a little twist.
Why did you choose Basque names?
The Basque country is an area that spans the south-western corner of France and into northern Spain. It is mountainous, forested and many places are difficult to access. The people there have a unique identity with their own unique language. The Basque language is very old, not related to any other known language, and dates back to pre-Roman times. I find the idea of having names derived from an ancient language that is so different to the others in Europe very appealing.
Thank you so much for answering my questions – I highly recommend your books and look forward to the next one in the series being published!