Hello everybody! Today, I’m super excited to welcome Pàdraig Kenny for an interview, to celebrate the recent release of his incredible new book the Monsters of Rookhaven. Onto the post!
Hi Padraig, thank you so much for being here! To start us off, can you please describe the Monsters of Rookhaven in 5 words?
Gothic fantasy adventure for everyone.
The book is the story of ‘the Family’- a group of monsters who all live together in a manor, hidden away from humans until two orphans stumble across them. It’s such a clever concept, and the worldbuilding is really gradual and well done. How did you go about planning the book? How long did it take to write?
I usually don’t plan my books, I’m a very seat of the pants writer, but this was the first one I’d written an outline for. Basically I wrote the first two chapters and a one-page outline. I’d never done that before, and I was worried that it might take from the joy of discovery as I wrote it, but really it helped enormously. I’m kind of kicking myself now that I’d never tried that method with my previous books.
One of my favourite things in the book was the different abilities that each member of the family has. If you were one of them, what would you want your ability to be? Would you choose any of the Family’s abilities, or would it be something completely different?
I like Odd’s ability to travel anywhere he wants. I suppose now more than ever though Odd’s ability seems such a luxury in the times we live in. There is one character I envy for their ability to always be content, but I don’t want to say anything too much about them for fear of revealing spoilers.
I also adored their house, which is really quite magical itself in a way, I particularly loved the Path of Flowers. Do you have any favourite sentient/otherwise magical houses or buildings in fiction? And would you like to live in the Family’s house?
It’s not a house per se or magical, but I love the TARDIS in Doctor Who. I’ve been a huge fan ever since I was a child, and the TARDIS has the advantage of being infinite and having a personality of its own. I couldn’t live in the Family’s house. It’s just too dark.
The book is so well written, and I could honestly hardly bear to put it down because it moved at such a brilliant pace! What tips would you give to other writers trying to achieve this effect?
Thanks, that’s very kind of you. I suppose the best tip I can give is from my script writing days, and it applies to fiction too. Always start your scenes as late as possible and then get out early before they start to flag. That tends to keep the narrative flowing. Always remember tension is your best friend when it comes to keeping the reader interested. There’s the tension of the overall story and how that will be resolved but remember the tension of each character arc too. Keep the reader on their toes. They need to feel that something is happening even in the background. This leaves them with a sense that the story is moving. It’s like keeping lots of plates spinning in the air.
Also on the theme of writing, what is your writing routine like? Do you have any unusual habits or quirks? And how has lockdown affected the way you write?
I like to keep office hours. As for quirks, I start each day dialling the current word count into my phone . I don’t know why I just don’t input it into a document, but it’s a good motivator.
Lockdown didn’t have any impact on this book, but I thought it affected the sequel because it felt like it was taking me longer than usual to write. It was certainly harder to keep my usual output going. But to be honest every writer I know was finding it impossible to concentrate properly during lockdown.
As our last writing related one, which book by another author do you wish you’d written and why?
I wish I’d written Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susannah Clarke. It was the first book in years I’d read in which I felt completely lost in. The writing is beautiful.
Before we go on to our quickfire round, is there anything you can tell us about the sequel, or anything else you’re working on at the moment?
The sequel has been written and I’m just about to start editing. All I can say is it starts somewhere the reader won’t expect. There are also some new characters, and there’s a whole new perspective on a major character which I’m very excited about.
3 random facts about you?
I always wanted to write a book, then I gave up writing books because I thought it would be easier to write scripts. It wasn’t.
I’m trypophobic, so looking at things like honeycomb makes me nauseous.
The only thing I’ve ever won was a bonny baby contest. I still have the rubber ducky I won. I can’t tell you how old it is.
Favourite ice cream flavour?
Favourite member of the Family?
Don’t make me choose, that’s like being asked who’s my favourite in my actual family. Although if pushed I would say it’s between Piglet and Mirabelle. Piglet might just get the nod.
Top 3 books you’ve read this year?
Piranesi by Susannah Clarke. Haven’t actually read it yet, but I just know it’s going to be brilliant.
Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan.
The Skylark’s War by Hilary McKay.
Thank you so much for reading! Are you planning to pick up the Monsters of Rookhaven? Have you read either of Pàdraig’s other books? I’d love to hear in the comments! Amy x