Hello everybody! Today, I’m very excited to be sharing my interview with Alex Bell, the writer of the wonderful Explorers books and the newly released A Most Peculiar Factory with Barrington Stoke, as well as some YA. Onto the post!
Hi Alex, thank you so much for being here!
1. First off, can you please describe A Most Peculiar Toy Factory in 5 words?
Teddies. Goblins. Creepy. Toymaker. Secrets.
2. Since the book takes place in a toy factory, what were your favourite childhood toys?Do you think you`d like to have a toy from Hoggle`s Happy Toys?
I had a soft toy of Abu, the monkey from Aladdin, that was my absolute childhood favourite. He came with me everywhere! I also had an impressive collection of Polly Pockets. And, yes, I’d love a toy from Hoggle’s Happy Toys, just so long as it wasn’t one of the evil ones.
3. I also really liked the otherworldly elements to the story, particularly someone I don`t want to name specifically as it may be a tiny bit of a spoiler, and I love this in the Explorers series too. What are your favourite magical elements or creatures to find in a book, and do you have any specific examples of these?
I enjoy it when there’s a little bit of darkness or creepiness to magic, as in many of the Roald Dahl books. And I’m just a sucker for any kind of magical creature in a book, but I especially like completely new ones that the author has created themselves, which is something I love playing with in Explorers.
4. The farm your main character Tess`s family runs sounds BRILLIANT- for anyone who hasn`t read the book yet, they produce sweets. If you had your own unconventional farm, what thing would you most want to create unlimited supplies of? (and this can be anything, not limited just to food!)
Ooh, what a great question! I think it would have to be some kind of Christmas farm, perhaps creating magical Christmas trees. Otherwise, it would have to be a unicorn farm.
5. My absolute favourite thing about the novella was definitely the ending though, WOW. What endings in books/films/TV shows have surprised you the most?
I love a twist and I almost never see them coming. I was completely blown away by the ending of Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, which I think is one of the most amazing novels I’ve ever read.
6. Also on the theme of endings, what tips would you give to writers trying to create a cliffhanger-style one? Between this and the ending of Explorers on Witch Mountain, it`s safe to say you`re amazing at them!
Thank you! I think the aim with cliffhangers is to leave your audience wondering about what happens after the book ends, so you need an unanswered question of some kind, or hint that things are not quite as resolved as the reader thinks. But at the same time I think it’s important that most of the major issues have been resolved, otherwise it can feel like a bit of a cheat.
7. What is your writing routine like? Do you have any unusual habits or quirks?
I generally aim for 2,000 words a day but that really just involves sitting down wherever there’s space and working away at it until it’s finished. I don’t have a dedicated writing room, but I always work better with one of my Siamese cats on my lap for company.
8. Can you tell us anything about your next release or what you`re working on at the moment?
I’ve recently done the final checks on the third Explorers book, Explorers on Black Ice Bridge, which comes out in November. I had so much fun writing it, and can’t wait for their next adventure to hit the shelves, especially as this one involves sea-gremlins and gentlemen flamingos.
Hogwarts house? Ravenclaw
Explorers` Club you most want to be part of? Polar Bears
Favourite biscuit? Jammy dodger
Thing you`re most excited about for autumn/winter? Eggnog lattes, always.
Top 3 reads of 2019 so far? North Child by Edith Pattou. The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. The Binding by Bridget Collins.
Have you read any of Alex’s books, or are you planning to? I’d love to hear in the comments!