Hello everybody! Today, I’m thrilled to be part of the Return to Roar blog tour, with my interview with the author Jenny McLachlan. Onto the post!
1. Hi Jenny, thank you so much for being here, it’s so lovely to get to interview you again! First off, can you describe the series in 5 words for us?
A dragon, ninja-wizard, mer-witch-filled adventure … I decided mer-witch-filled is one word!
2. Before you started writing the Roar books, you wrote for a teen/YA audience. Would you say there any difference in your writing process between the two, and did you find anything particularly challenging about it?
The biggest challenge was making Arthur’s first person voice work in a fantasy story. Otherwise there were a lot of similarities between the books. The humour and the focus on family and friendships can be found in all of my books, but there are definitely more dragons in the Land of Roar!
3. I think my favourite thing about the first book has to be Roar itself, the worldbuilding was amazing! What are your top three fantasy worlds in fiction, and why?
Moomin Valley because I can shut my eyes and imagine I’m there. And, possibly more importantly, I want to be there. The ratio of danger to cosiness is perfect too. Yes, there are floods and comets, but Moomin Mama is always on hand with a cake to make things feel safe. I also love Neverland, but for different reasons. It feels surprisingly perilous for a children’s fantasy world. The pirates are very real and not cartoonish at all and there is an air of menace everywhere, even in the Lost Boys’ camp. When I was little I enjoyed reading books that frightened me, and Neverland frightened me just the right amount! My final top fantasy world comes from a film not a book: Labyrinth. I love the idea of journeying through a maze and meeting characters along the way. And what’s in the middle? David Bowie and and lots of goblins! It’s so bizarre that it’s perfect. I watched it on repeat when I was younger.
4. On the same theme, what are your favourite parts of Roar? If you got the chance to visit for a day, how would you most like to spend it?
Without a doubt I would go to Mitch’s island. It’s very like the islands in the Stockholm archipelago – which I love – but it has the added bonus of a permanently heated lagoon, rainbow stars and a hole in the floor of Mitch’s hut for instant lagoon access. I’d love to go on holiday there!
5. Since Roar is the world your characters Arthur and Rose played in as they were growing up, did you have any imaginary worlds you visited as a child and/or imaginary friends? What were they like?
I played endlessly when I was growing up, and, I suspect, I carried on playing when most of my friends had grown out of it. The games flowed into each other and I didn’t have a specific world like the Land of Roar, but I certainly played games that inspired Roar. In the attic of my nan’s house there was a folding camp bed that my cousins and I would dare each other to crawl through, and we also played a game called ‘Witches and Gluepots’. My cousin was always the witch and she shared some similarities with Mitch!
6. Another thing I really loved was how good the character development was, particularly in Rose’s case. Was this something that was important to you as you were writing? What tips would you give other writers looking to write really three-dimensional characters, who feel like real people?
I can’t start writing until I feel like the characters are fully realised in my head. I spend hours (days, weeks, months!) before I begin writing rehearsing scenes in my head and thinking about the characters. I often do this when I’m running or walking the dog. I only begin writing when the characters are speaking for themselves so I never have to think, What would Rose say in this situation? To me, she feels so real that I know what she would say.
7. As I’ve had you here before, I don’t want to repeat the question I tend to ask at this point in an interview. So, instead, if you could have written any book by another author, which one would you want it to be?
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – her ability to conjure up another period in history is astonishing. Her words make time travel possible.
8. Finally, can you tell us anything about what you’re working on at the moment/will be releasing next? I’m so looking forward to going back to Roar a few more times!
I’m just editing the third book in the Land of Roar series. It’s very exciting. The children go further into Roar than they have ever been before. I’m also writing another book, but I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say about it. Perhaps I can say that it features three of my favourite things: treasure, pirates and maps!
Animal you’d most like to be for a day? A monkey
Favourite ice cream flavour? Coffee
Cats or dogs? Dogs
Top 3 reads of 2020 so far?
Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins, Mud Larking by Lara Maiklem and Circe by Madeline Miller.
Some of your most anticipated releases for the rest of 2020/in 2021?
I’m really looking forward to reading The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel and The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff although these have already been released. I’m afraid I don’t know any books that are going to be released soon… Yes I do! I can’t wait for Anna Jones’ next cookery book: One. I stay up to date with cookery books!
Thank you so much for reading! Are you planning to pick this series up? I’d love to hear in the comments!