Showing posts with label Interview 2022. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interview 2022. Show all posts

Friday, 16 September 2022

THALAMUS PLANK - Author/Illustrator - Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books


Hello Everybody. Today we are delighted to be able to share the fantastic interview with Thalamus Plank - what a great name by the way. Thalmus is a very talented author/illustrator who has a fantastic creative style that might be new to you. He is always dreaming of an opportunity to demonstrate his creative talents. So we asked him some in-depth questions to find out more about his work and hopefully fuel his dream for bigger things to come. If you want to find out more about him or check out his other work then visit his website: or have a chat with him on Twitter:

  • ‘Help, My Granny is a Smuggler!’ is a book you are really proud of so what can you tell us about it, and will or has it been published? 

I’m proud of this book because it was ‘Highly Commended’ by the judges at the Faber and Andlyn BAME, (FAB) Prize – which made it the first piece that I’d written that was acknowledged by people in the publishing industry as being of a standard. That is both an incredible confidence boost and a relief to a writer and an acknowledgment that you’re on the right path! It hasn’t yet been published… so if the publishing world feels that it is missing a humorous story about a granny that goes smuggling in secret with ‘the fearsome four’, and that involves a spot of detective work by her brave grandson, Barrie, then they know where to come!  

  • They say that a picture paints a thousand words, what do your illustrations say about you? 

I suppose that the things you write and draw do reflect something of your character… I don’t want to sound like I don’t take life seriously, but I do always seem to see beauty and light in even the darkest moments, and always find something that can bring a smile to my face. Whilst I don’t bury my head in the sand concerning the more troublesome aspects of the world we live in; I feel that they are currently more than abundant right now so don’t really have the desire to invent any more. That said, I wouldn’t shy away from depicting moments of sadness, as long as strands of hope can be drawn from the narrative. 

  • What kind of projects do you like working on? 

I do enjoy animal portraits - as you know, I’m involved in animal rescue and house several ‘un-releasables’ as well as a handful of dogs, so I get to observe their incredible beauty close up on a daily basis – you can’t help but be inspired! I've been trying my hand at book covers and am really enjoying the challenge of that, both the summing up of the book with the art and designing the layout. I particularly enjoy black and white illustrations (for chapter books and upwards) and am currently working on some for a chapter book that I have recently penned.  

  • Have you always enjoyed drawing and writing? Is this something you wanted to focus on as a career from an early age? 

I was brought up in a creative household with a blend of cultures, my English mother is an incredible artist and my Guyanese father is a passionate lover of words and literature, - (His letters are eloquent and descriptive and reading his postcards is like delving into an excerpt from a travel guide!) and my siblings are artistic too. I learned pretty much all I know about drawing and painting from watching my mother at work. My grandmother also used to paint, and between them, they taught me so much. Whilst I was not formally trained, I could never claim to be ‘self-taught’, I had the very best teachers. My grandfather (a fellow Yorkshire man!) wrote poetry and my father was always reading and educated us in the classics, he used to write short stories and had several published in his work magazine. He has recently taken up painting too! So yes, drawing and writing were a big part of my childhood - I still have the very first story I wrote, written in a Postman Pat notebook. I must have been five or six (I hope – very embarrassing if it turned out I was much older!!) it’s about a magic man in a grocery shop buying potatoes – riveting stuff! But, no, although making art and crafts, and writing, have been a serious past-time, it was never something I really considered as a career; it’s only in recent years that I have become focused on pursuing this path with vigour!  

  • How do you capture your ideas as they come to you and when are you at your best creatively? 

I discovered a few years ago that I have Aphantasia, meaning that I have no ‘mind’s eye’. (Obviously, this was how I experienced life, I just never knew that it was a thing) Like many who have it, I always thought that picturing things in your mind was just something people said, and didn’t realise that most people can see actual images in their minds! Apparently, some people can see moving images, like watching a film – in your head!! I can only imagine how amazing that be! I, on the other hand, see nothing, so when it comes to capturing ideas, I rely a lot on taking photos (my phone storage is always at capacity!)  and I recall feelings and try to capture them in the images that I draw. Feelings are also important in writing too - when I read a book, clearly, I won’t be picturing the story in my mind, but I will very much feel what I read. To that end, I’m actually quite selective about what I read. So, yes, lots of photos (I even keep the blurry ones as they still invoke how I was feeling at the time it was taken) and jotting down comments and quick sketches– usually on kitchen roll! 

I’m a night person, so from about 10 pm - 4 am (ish) would be my hours of choice, but the reality of life is that you take any and every minute you can grab, whenever, wherever and just be grateful!  

  • If you could pick two book covers illustrated by other illustrators which would you select? What is it about these two covers that particularly appeals to you? 

Edward Bettison is a wonderful designer and his cover of ‘Stone’ by Finbar Hawkins is a joy to look at, the same goes for his cover of ‘Witch’, also by Finbar Hawkins.  Whilst I haven’t yet read this book, so can’t say whether or not it captures the story (although I’m sure it does), I’m so taken by the artwork. I love the silhouette style art with a limited colour palette – less really is more!


My second choice is the beautiful cover of ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse’, written and illustrated by the very talented Charlie Mackesy.  I love the simplicity of a few lines that manage to convey so much, both as a picture and in the feelings it evokes. So very powerful and yet so minimal, so simple and yet so deep.


Both are very different in style, but each one is beautiful! 

  • Could you draw your favourite superhero/book character/famous person in a style that relates to you and share it with us? 

I’ve had to draw you three! The first two are fanart from the world of The Moomins that were created in the amazing mind of Tove Jansson. Snufkin is who I aspire to be like. Snufkin is a free spirit, connected to nature, surrounded by music, and loves the sea – all very strong passions of mine, however, my actual day-to-day reality is more that of the dear Hemulen, who is a bit eccentric, studies fauna with his magnifying glass (I do have a microscope!) and likes to drink tea. I’m probably a mixture of them both, so the third picture is my Moomin mash-up – a ‘Snufulen’ maybe or perhaps a ‘Hemkin’! 

  • What one thing would you like people to know about you? 

Other than, ‘I’m available for representation!', I’d like them to know just how grateful I am to every single person who has inspired and encouraged me in any way in both my writing and my illustration, from those that are closest to me and encourage me on a daily basis and allow me the time and space to create (In particular, Mr. Slid, my family and SeaDogBobL), to those on social media who I have never met, and probably never will in person, (like your good self and like Zillah Bethell who continue to be so supportive!) and everyone in between – every kind comment is appreciated from the heart as is the creative work that they all share too. I’ve learned so much from looking at other peoples’ output. There’s an incredible world of creativity out there!!  

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Kate Gilby Smith - Olive Jones and the Memory Thief - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #36

Hello Everybody! It's time to introduce you to our next author interview with Kate Gilby Smith. 
The Astonishing Future of Alex Nobody is her first book to be published by Orion Children's Books whilst Olive Jones and the Memory Thief is her latest book. The author was born on the island of Guernsey which I'm sure will be a backdrop of huge inspiration. From fiction to non-fiction, we travel beyond books to find out more about the author and who they would travel back in time to meet. 

 1. Your second book is entitled Olive Jones and the Memory Thief and is due to be published in June 2022 by Orion Children's. When and where did you get the first idea for this book?
The idea for Olive Jones and the Memory Thief came from a ‘what if’ question that popped into my head one day. What if one day in the future we could record our memories? I kept thinking about this question and in particular about whose memories I would most like to watch if I could. I started to think about how I’d love to watch some of my grandparents’ memories, to get to know them better than I was able to when they were alive. At the same time I was thinking about my grandad who I saw lots of when I was growing up but had always been quite mysterious to me. I developed a bit of a theory about why he was so mysterious despite living so close – he was secretly a spy. That gave me the idea for a grandparent character – called Grandma Sylvie – who is secretly a spy, and a protagonist who learns about their grandparent’s life through the memories they leave behind when they pass away. That was the start of the idea, though I had no clue where it would take me from there!

2. How do you go about planning and plotting a book? Do you have any tips to share with other writers looking to get their stories published? 

After having the initial idea, I had to ask myself and answer loads more questions. What technology does Grandma Sylvie use to record her memories? How does it work? Why does she do it? What’s the protagonist of my story like? What’s her relationship with Grandma Sylvie like? And many more questions like that. From the beginning I had an image in my head of the main character, Olive, staring through her window at her grandma’s house across the road and wishing that she knew more about her. So I knew that’s where I wanted to start. Then I went about plotting the book in chunks of about three chapters at a time, not knowing where I was going to end up. It took me a really long time to work out what I wanted to happen in the book after Olive receives her grandma’s memories. In fact, I had to completely rewrite the second half of the book as I wasn’t happy with the plot. It was hard to do that, but I’m so glad I did.

As for tips, I would encourage writers to keep going even when the book feels like the most terrible story anyone has ever written. I would also encourage them to share their writing with a trusted friend of a family member and to listen carefully to their feedback. And make sure your first three chapters really hook your reader because that’s the bit literary agents tend to read before requesting the full manuscript.

3. You also work as a publicist at a London publisher of science, philosophy and history; are there any elements of this particular job that help you when writing for children? 

Yes definitely! As a publicist for non-fiction books I’m always around interesting, new and exciting ideas which is hugely inspiring, especially as I like writing books with sci-fi and futuristic themes. 

4. Did any of the books you read as a child reflect the Guernsey surroundings/island you were brought up on? Are you able to reflect aspects of the island into your ideas or stories?

That’s such an interesting question. I don’t remember reading any children’s books set on Guernsey but growing on the island I often felt a sense of freedom and adventure and wildness when exploring the beaches and forts with friends and without any pesky grown-ups that was a bit like some Eva Ibbotson books I read when I was a child. I would love to write a book set on Guernsey one day in the future. It’s such a beautiful place with a rich folklore and history, from fairies and ghosts to pirates and shipwrecks. 

5. Do you have a favourite illustrator?

The first book I was obsessed with was My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards and illustrated by Shirley Hughes. As a very naughty younger sister myself I really related! And it made me think that becoming an author was the very best thing you could do. So my favourite illustrator is Shirley Hughes. 

6. You love eating ice cream; what are your favourite flavours and which characters in your books would also love these flavours?

Chocolate with chocolate chips and chocolate sauce and a chocolate flake. With chocolate sprinkles. I think that this would also be Gerty’s favourite flavour (from The Astonishing Future of Alex Nobody) as she has a real sweet tooth and would never consider so much chocolate ‘too much’. 

7. In the first book, people were travelling back in time to meet famous people. Who would you travel back in time to meet and why? 

I change my mind about this question all the time but at the moment I would really love to go back in time to meet Fatima al’Fihri because she is credited with founding the very first university in the world back in 859 and yet there’s loads we don’t know about her life.

8. What is the strangest question a reader/editor has ever asked you? Can you remember what your reply was? 

I was asked by a kid whether I’d write a story about my own skeleton. I said I would definitely consider it!

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

OANIS RAWBONE - Whippoorwill Lane - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #35

Here we have something a little different for you today. It's an epic interview with Oanis Rawbone, author and publisher of Whippoorwill Lane. The book is a fantastic collaboration with the amazing illustrator Karl James Mountford. Some of you will already be familiar with his work especially if you follow Mr. Ripley's Book Cover competition. In this post, we want to give you the full flavour of the book as it's an atmospheric tale of a creepy nature. It really is an absolute stunner that has an unusual lyrical narrative. 

If want a scary treat then you might want to put it on your shelves for the day you fancy a little scare - maybe Halloween?  We hope you enjoy this post and if you want to find out more you can BUY a copy HERE or visit the author's website for more gentle persuasion: 
  1. Whippoorwill Lane is your first venture into children's books, what was your intention when you started to write this book?
Originally Whippoorwill Lane began life as an animated short film script but it became obvious to me that it would really suit being a book series.Writing a book series has always been on my 'to do' list, lurking somewhere in the far recesses. I wanted to write a series that was funny and very unpredictable, with a macabre streak running through it, something that could be enjoyed by both parents and children. Something specifically for those dark and stormy nights, a bit creepy to read on your own and fun to read aloud at parties with your friends and family. A book series perfect for the Halloween season.
Initially, I thought about what interested me as a child, I always gravitated towards things that were a little edgier and older than my reading age.I wanted excitement, with a pinch of danger. I've concluded (within reason) that the best approach to writing fun stories for children is to not think about your audience at all, at least not in the idea stage. That has freed things up massively and keeps things interesting, it’s really helped me explore ideas outside of the well worn roads. I'm quite tough on myself, if it doesn't have the right mix of ingredients and hold my attention, it gets binned immediately!2.  How did you come up with the ideas for the book and do you have a particular way of remembering ideas to use later?I was very fortunate when I stumbled onto Whippoorwill Lane, I knew on the spot that I wanted to write about it, it's a very bizarre place. I really want to document it all. I'm afraid I can't reveal it's location as I could not guarantee your safety!Other inspiration comes in many forms, like most writers I'm constantly jotting down interesting anecdotes and true life stories, watching and listening, soaking things up around me and filing things away. Sometimes it's a bolt from the blue and a story pretty much writes itself, other times it's a slower process of discovery.
3. How are you putting the 'BOO!' back into books?I lean towards the darker, more twisted side in all of my writing, much like the classic fairy tales of old (on closer examination are actually quite dark). The Brothers Grimm, Edward Gorey, Roald Dahl, Tim Burton, Edgar Allan Poe,I'm really inspired by creators that are masters at blending humour with the macabre in exciting ways, who play with our expectations, and expose how ridiculous we can be, our human foibles.I think being young and feeling a chill through your bones when you're sat alone, reading a story, that's exciting, so I like to add an element of fear/ threat into my stories.It's all done very tongue in cheek but I think many readers crave that, it's different from the usual 'happily ever after' route, it's unpredictable, which I love.Whippoorwill Lane on the surface appears very normal but it quickly becomes fiendishly off the wall.
4. The illustrations have been produced by the very talented Karl James Mountford. How did that collaboration develop and how important was it to get the right illustrator for your brilliant words?Working with the right illustrator is everything. Karl is my creative soul mate, he is the ying to my yang. Creating Whippoorwill Lane is very much a partnership. Karl and I met at University. I was struck by one of his paintings that was on display in the Uni reception area, it really stood out to me. I had researched many different art styles for the book but none of them were a good fit, I knew immediately when I saw his work that Karl was the man for the job. 

Karl has such a unique style and command of his craft, his work is instantly recognisable and he has produced countless stunning pieces of work.I approached Karl to work on the illustrations for the book, he really loved the story and totally got the humour and we became firm friends.We bounced around idea's for Whippoorwill Lane's 'look' for a long time, we were not in a hurry. We experimented with lots of different styles, it had to be right. When Karl showed me the first completed illustration for Whippoorwill Lane it was an electric moment, it was absolutely perfect, it still gives me goosebumps to think of it! Karl captured the spirit of the book so perfectly. Working with him is always magical, every time that I look at Whippoorwill Lane’s illustrations I 
see something new, Karl’s work is fantastic.On a side note, Karl will be releasing his debut novel this September called 'Circles In the Sky' which looks absolutely stunning, so keep an eye out for that. I'm so thankful that we crossed paths, he is an outstanding creator, a good friend and a more down-to-earth chap you will never meet.5. What was your plan to get this book published and in the hands of readers?The road to bring Whippoorwill Lane to the world has not been a straightforward one. The book is a bit of an anomaly, most children's picture books are around 32 pages on average, Whippoorwill Lane is 133 pages!Similar to the length of an illustrated graphic novel. Through my agent we initially approached a few publishers, they loved the stories and the illustrations but were worried about taking a risk on an unknown author with an unusual page count.Fortunately, a lot has changed in the publishing industry in the last few years and so much more is possible now. After a lot of research, I decided to set up my own imprint (Buffalo Book Press) and release the book myself.It's been a brilliant learning experience, having complete autonomy and control over the whole process is wonderful. We are completely free range!I don't think many people realise how many distribution channels are available now and this, along with social media, means there is very little that you can't achieve with the proper planning.If you believe in your project and have done your homework (that's very important, don't delude yourself, be honest with yourself about your project because putting a book out into the world is forever, so make sure that it's dynamite!), then go for it. Established industries are often afraid to take risks, which is understandable, why risk anything when the tried and tested is working for you? Innovation often comes from risk though, so, do your homework, be honest with yourself, then go for it.6. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as there is very little information on the internet about you?By day I am a video editor, VFX artist at a film post-production house and by night I am a scribbler of short stories, scripts and children's books.  I'm also currently directing my first documentary film, which is very exciting.I live in South Wales with my wife, our three children and our demanding dog, Velma.7. What future plans do you have for Whippoorwill Lane?I'm so excited about the future of Whippoorwill Lane and really looking forward to writing the next instalments of the series.I recently visited the Lane and have managed to fill several notebooks full, so that will keep me busy for a while! (Whispers: I have just made a start on book two!) After that who knows! An audiobook version, a stop motion animation perhaps, watch this space!Also, we love the community that is growing on our website, there are a lot of fun things to do on there and we'll be adding more content soon. You can find us at, subscribe for all the latest updates and we'd love to hear any suggestions for additions to the site.8. What have you learned from writing your first children's book and how will this help you in your future writing?Working on Whippoorwill Lane has been a massive learning experience on all fronts. When you are writing your first book, naturally at times, you can have some low moments of self-doubt, moments when you feel like giving up. However sometimes there are projects that just will not leave you alone, you go to bed and wake up thinking about them and when that happens you don't really have a choice, self doubt or not! Creating Whippoorwill Lane was like that, one way or another it was going to happen. Through this experience I have learned patience, perseverance, to believe in what I am doing and most importantly, to believe in myself.Making book one involved a lot of unknowns, discovering what worked and what didn't, now that those elements have been established we can build on book one and find out where things will go next. We can't wait.The response to Whippoorwill Lane has made the whole experience so worthwhile, we are getting wonderful reviews and letters, our readers seem to really connect with it and say that they go back to it for multiple readings, ultimately that is the job of any good story isn't it. I am so proud of the book and would like to sincerely thank all of our readers, your enthusiasm is like creative rocket fuel, I can't wait for us to take our next trip down Whippoorwill Lane.

Monday, 1 August 2022

Tom Huddleston - Flood World Trilogy - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #34


Are you ready for another brilliant interview? Well, we hope the answer is yes to that question! Today we're delighted to welcome the multi-talented writer and musician Tom Huddleston. He's the author of the fantastic dystopian FloodWorld trilogy published by Nosy Crow books. This series is one of our favourites as it is one of the best that we have read for some time. It was an absolute delight to be able to ask Tom some questions about his book and writing career so far. Anyway without further ado, thanks for taking the time to read the post; we hope you have a great week. 

  • You have written an interesting mix of books for children, which story was the most fun to write and why?
The FloodWorld books were by far the most fun and satisfying to write, because it was my story, my ideas, my characters, my world. Writing Star Wars books was amazing, obviously, and I also loved writing books set in the Warhammer universe. But nothing can beat creating my own future. 
  • You have finished writing the FloodWorld Trilogy (published by Nosy Crow) was there a particular message you wanted to convey through these books and did this go according to plan?
I wanted to encourage readers to think about climate change and what the real cost could be - as the title implies, the books are set in a flooded future, in a city half-sunk beneath the waves. They're also about inequality and exploitation, how some people will use a disaster to grab more wealth or power for themselves. Those are pretty heavy topics, but what I didn't want was for the books to be depressing, or a slog to read - I wanted them to be exciting adventure stories, full of action and friendship and hope. And yes, it went according to my own plan - some might argue that I ought to be treating these issues more seriously, but personally I think a hard lesson is easier to learn if it's presented in an entertaining fashion.  
  • What are you writing at the moment?
I'm working on a couple of different things - my first non-fiction book, which I can't really talk about, and my first novel for adults, which is quite a daunting task! But I've also just submitted the first draft of a new book for teenage readers, another real-world dystopian adventure story, so we'll see what happens there. And of course I'm still working on the Cosmic Creatures series of fun sci-fi stories for younger readers, they're a real pleasure to write.
  • Has your childhood influenced your writing in any way? Which books did you particularly love reading?
My childhood remains a huge influence on my writing - I don't think you can write for or about kids without drawing on your own childhood experiences. In many ways I think I'm still a kid - I mean, I spend my days dreaming up stories rather than getting a proper job. As for books, I was a big fantasy fan, I read The Lord of the Rings repeatedly, alongside the Earthsea books and the work of Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, people like that. But I read pretty much anything that was put in front of me, to be honest.
  • I know you are a massive Sci-fi fan so what is your favourite Sci-fi film/series? 
I don't think you can beat Star Wars as a series, particularly The Empire Strikes Back, it's a perfect film. I don't like every single one of the movies, but it's such a rich and detailed universe that's always fun to revisit. But my absolute favourite sci-fi movie, indeed probably my favourite film of all time, is Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It's so rare to find a film that's intensely thrilling without resorting to violence or scares, it's all about optimism and wonder. Honestly, watching it comes close to being a spiritual experience for me - maybe I just want them to come and take me away!
  • Do you have any hobbies or collections?
I have a pretty big record collection that I've been working on since I was a kid, I got my first record player when I was six and I've spent most of my spare money on vinyl ever since. But in recent years I can only afford new records if I sell a few old ones - writing isn't exactly a lucrative profession! As for hobbies, I play in a band called The No Sorrows - you can find our album on Spotify! - and watch a lot of movies. But to be honest, my main hobby is also my job - writing books. I'm very lucky to be able to say that.

You can buy the books HERE. 

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Gemma Fowler - City of Rust - (Q&A Interview) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #33


Here we have a winning combination; a great book cover, and a fantastic story. This was one of the most original stories of 2021 (published by Chicken House books) and we loved it. It was really great to be able to ask some questions about the book as well as find out more about the author behind it. If you are ready for Astronaut wee and Cornish pasties predicting the future then you must read this enjoyable interview with Gemma Fowler. In the meantime, enjoy and we'll see you back for the next interview very soon. You can buy HERE. 

  1. City of Rust is a very intriguing title. How would you best describe the book to potential new readers? 

City of Rust is a nail-biting sci-fi mystery adventure, set in a city built entirely out of junk called Boxville. There’s drone racing, bio robotic animals, Sphereships, mechanical bounty hunters, and terrifying junker clans ruling the skies. Phew! 

  1. What would you like readers to understand from this book; is there an important message behind the story you would like readers to pick up on?

Apart from having a load of fun reading it, I’d love readers to understand that the book is inspired by the rubbish problem we have on Earth. I really struggle with the fact we have (nearly) driverless cars now, but still struggle to recycle our waste. It’s nuts!

  1. I love the book cover for City of Rust. What do you think and how does it illustrate the story inside? 

Oh I love the cover! It’s by Karl James Mountford, who’s a bit of a legend anyway, but I think he really knocked it out of the park with this one! 

A lot of people think the book has a steampunk vibe after looking at the cover (I think it’s the rusty colours). It does have a few steampunky traits, but it’s really not that kind of world at all. Blade Runner meets Wall E meets Star Wars! 

  1. Are there any movies you think might have influenced the book and would we pick up on any of these references through the story?


  1. When did you get the first idea for this book and has the journey taken you to any unexpected places? 

I read an article about the space debris problem (there are 180 million pieces of space waste in orbit around the Earth right now and counting), did a big groan about the state of humanity, and then an image of a space junkyard popped into my head that was too cool to ignore! 

  1. Have you had any personal conversations with the characters in the book?

I wouldn’t say I have conversations with them, they sort of talk at me and I write it down. It doesn’t feel like it comes from me at all. Which sounds crazy but it’s just the way it works! 

Now the book is written it’s like having a group of friends that you miss hanging out with, I find myself thinking ‘Atti would love this’ or ‘If Railey were here she’d have fixed that already’, things like that.

  1. Can you tell us about any writing projects you are working on at the moment? 

City of Rust has been selected for the Summer Reading Challenge this year, which has a Gadgeteers theme, so I’m working on updating my website with some bits and bobs to go with that over the summer.

I’m currently working on a new book that features a Cornish pasty that can predict the future. That’s all I will say for now! Ha.

  1. What question were you hoping to be asked and why? 

Ok. I’m a weird fact machine (I bore people with my facts on a daily basis), so here are some Gross but True facts I learned whilst researching City of Rust- 

  • There are hundreds of weebergs, made of frozen astronaut wee flying above our heads in orbit right now. Gross!

  •  Gecko’s will drop, and then eat, their own tails if there isn’t enough food around (don’t worry, Atti doesn’t do this in the book). Ew!

  • The reason the residents of Boxville live on sugary snacks and drinks (Floss and Pop), is that sugar, in its purest form, doesn’t grow bacteria, and can still be eaten years and sometimes decades, after its best before date. Blugh.

Friday, 22 July 2022

Allan Boroughs - The After School Detective Club Series (Q&A Interview) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #32

Today we have another cracking interview with our good friend Allan Boroughs. One of his recent projects is co-writing a new detective series with fellow author Mark Dawson. The first two books have been published this year with Welbeck Flame whilst another book is due to be published in Jan 2023 entitled The Mystery in the Marshes. All the books are illustrated by the talented illustrator Ben Mantle. So, it's time to be transported back to your eight-year-old self where you'll have the power of seeing the world in a fresh and unique way whilst playing the drums. Have a great day and weekend! You can buy it HERE. 

  1. You have just written a new series of books with Mark Dawson, how did that come about and what can we expect in the series? 

I knew of Mark from his adult thrillers and his work in the independent publishing space.  A friend of mine called me one day and said he’d seen a post from Mark saying he was looking for a children’s writer to collaborate on a new series.  I got in touch and we got talking, I followed him home a few times, leapt out of dark alleyways, super-glued myself to his car etc and eventually he agreed to work with me.  It was a natural fit really. 

The After-School Detective Club involves a group of friends (Max, Charlie, Joe and Lucy and their faithful dog, Sherlock) as they solve crimes and mysteries in and around their home town of Southwold. 

Mark and I both agreed early on that we wanted the series to evoke the stories we loved as kids such as the Famous Five and Just William stories.  However, the world has moved on quite a bit since Enid Blyton’s days so we also wanted stories that were based in the modern world where the gang have to deal with modern criminals as well as tackling real-world problems like difficult parents, bullies and schoolwork.   

Mostly, the stories are about the value of true friendship and how everyone has something to offer, however much of an outsider they feel.    

  1. What makes the After-School Detective Club so special for the characters and how did they all get involved? 

We thought a lot about the characters at the outset and deliberately made them as different as possible in terms of personality, interests and backgrounds.  They are all thrown together by chance, one evening in Southwold and, at first, they don’t get on particularly well.  However they become firm friends when they are placed in a dangerous situation and have to rely on each other to save themselves.  

Creating very different personalities gave us a lot of opportunity for humour, disagreements and for each member of the gang to bring unique skills to each adventure.  Like all the best gangs, they also have their own hideout – no spoilers but they think it’s ‘the best place in the world’.

  1. What is the process like when you co-write a series and do you both agree on everything that happens in the plot and book?

As with all the best collaborations there is some tension in the process – some things we agreed on straight away, others we went backwards and forwards on until we found something we both liked.  We spent the most time thinking about the location, the characters and how they would work together before we really thought about the story.  Once we’d got the chemistry right between the main characters, the stories really took care of themselves.

Having someone else to work with on a story is great.  When you think about it, most modern films and TV shows are written by teams of people.  By comparison, the idea of a lone author, sitting at home and writing entirely by themselves is a little strange.

  1. The second book entitled The Secret of Ragnar's Gold will be published at the end of June (2022); will this book work well as a standalone read or do you think there is a need to read it in a sequence for it to be fully understood and enjoyed? 

The stories are all standalone adventures so you can read them in any order you like.  At the same time, there are some characters that turn up in different stories and the relationships between the gang develop over time so I think readers will get more out of them if they read them in order.  

  1. Ben Mantle has illustrated both book covers in the series, do you think a good cover can help readers to select and identify a book they would like to read purely on its aesthetics?

Ben is my hero.  He not only did the covers but all the interior illustrations as well and his artwork really brought the books to life.  The first time I saw his sketches I laughed myself silly – he captured the characters perfectly and drew them with such humour that it was like seeing the story for the first time.  

A good cover is an essential part of the package in any book and this is particularly true for children’s books.  A great cover can really help a young reader to start to visualise the story before they have read the first page.  When it is so critically important to encourage children to read at an early page – a great illustrator and a classic cover are indispensable.

  1. What project are you working on at the moment?

The After-School Detective Club is progressing rapidly and I am currently working on Book 5 in the series.  No spoilers but my story research included a trip to Ireland as well as googling the question “can you put a dog through an airport scanner”.  

Apart from that I am also finding a bit of spare time to finish Book 3 in my own kids’ sci-fi detective series, Starless and Black, and I’m learning how to play the drums.  The books are going well – the drums, not so much.

  1. Which books do you read for pleasure? 

I love reading and devour as many books as my spare time will allow although my reading choices can be a little eclectic.  Favourite reads include the Laidlaw detective series by William Mackilvanney; classic sci-fi/speculative fiction by William Gibson, Ursula Le Guin and Margaret Atwood, spy novels by Le Carre and anything and everything by Neil Gaiman.  

My current read is ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ (honestly) which I am re-reading for probably about the twentieth time.  It is funny, sad, endearing and a perfect example of how a well-crafted children’s book can tell us fundamental truths about the way the world works.

  1. What question would your younger self ask your older self and what would be your answer to this?

Eight-year-old me would probably want to know how much I earn – which as any children’s writer will tell you is one of the questions they get asked most often on school visits.

Much-older me would probably say something like – don’t even think about how much money you’re going to make from writing – if you want to make money, start a business or go and work in a bank or something.  But if you want to be a writer, then do it because if there is just the tiniest chance that someone will read something you’ve written and it makes them laugh or cry or think about the world in a different way then, that is worth more than any amount of money.

Oh, and by the way, eight-year-old me – don’t ever stop thinking like an eight-year-old because it’s the one time when you have the most amazing original thoughts about the world that are entirely yours.  As you get older, other people’s ideas will crowd in on your own until you’ve forgotten which ideas are yours and which are just something you read somewhere.  

I think eight-year-old people are the ones most likely to see the world in a fresh and original way – we should put them in charge.

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Justyn Edwards - The Great Fox Illusion - Author Interview (Q&A) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #31


The greatest illusion of all is the art of telling a good story; the trick is there is no trick. It's time to dream and let your imagination take hold in this brilliant fantasy adventure with the author, Justyn Edwards. The Great Fox Illusion was published by Walker Books (April 2022). Check this book out as I believe it just might be the READ you are looking for this summer. We hope you enjoy it and see you again soon! 

  1. The Great Fox Illusion is your debut book and was published in April 2022. What illusion do you put the readers under and do you think they will enjoy the fantasy experience? 

Stories have a very similar flow, rhythm and structure to a good magic performance. A trick often starts with an everyday object and then surprises you with a vanish or a transformation. Finally, it ends with a crescendo or by returning everything to normal. A good story follows a very similar pattern. Thinking about that made me want to write a story about tricks that was itself a kind of trick. I really hope that others will enjoy the fun in that process. 

  1. What do the characters make possible in the plot that would have otherwise been impossible?

I loved writing about Flick and Charlie. When they first meet,Flick isn’t too keen on Charlie – they’re both very different. But the way they combine and learn to work together in this book is something I really enjoyed bringing to life. The personalities those characters have, how contrasting they are, how flawed they are, and yet how they help each other makes the book possible.

  1. How did you go about plotting this book and did you have any idea it would become a series? 

Right from the start, I planned this book as the first in a series, and I had the rough shape of what follows from the off. The plot of this book is only an opening skirmish.

  1. What do you think you learned when writing this book and will it help you with your next book?

I've learnt a lot. Working with my agent to send this book off to publishers and now working with my editor has been an invaluable experience. They’ve been brilliant at probing the story, getting me to check and cover the details and think through all the angles. Hopefully, I've put these lessons into practice while writing the second book in the series (just finishing this off now), and then it’s time to have another go with the third book, which I need to start writing any day now.

  1. You state you are not very good at nuclear physics or DIY (the same applies to me). What would you suggest that you are good at? 

Hmmmmm. Maybe not much! I think my one skill in life is to keep trying. Hopefully, the second book will be better than the first…

  1. Does your degree in archaeology help in any way with the next book in the series? Can you share any glimpses of information about it? 

Ha! There’s no archaeology in the second book. What can I tell you about it without giving too much away? The Great Fox Illusion ends with Flick and Charlie thrown into the world of magicians and illusionists, and they’ve made some enemies along the way. Let’s just say, in the second book that the sheer magnitude of what they’re up against becomes apparent – they’ve got the attention of some scary and ruthless people. They have stepped through a door into a new and dangerous world where they discover the true power of the Bell System.

  1. Can you share a magical moment that you have had in real life that might inspire us to write or read more books?

I think our imagination is such an important thing. I can’t think of any particular moment that crystalises that, but the process of creative writing and exercising our minds when reading is vital for us all. It makes us more rounded, more empathetic, and more outward-looking people.

  1. What one question do you wish you had been asked as part of this Q&A and why? How would one of your characters have responded to this question?

An important question about this book is who designed the stunning cover. Charlie would give you a very long answer to this (as all of his answers tend to go on a bit), but I’ll keep it short. Flavia Sorrentino. She did it, and it looks amazing. I’ve also seen some roughs for her cover for the next book and… Well, you’ll have to wait!