Tell me what inspired you to write the Alfie bloom series?
I have always adored castles and visit as many as I can. In 2006 some friends took me to Castle Coch in Wales. It looked like a fairytale castle and I wondered what it would be like to inherit a place like that. I remember staring at the carvings of The Fates above one of the fireplaces and imagined them coming to life and telling me my destiny. On the long drive home that visit went around and around in my head until it turned into the story of Alfie Bloom.

I was also inspired by the summer holidays I spent on my Granny’s farm in Ireland with my brothers and cousins. We loved finding and exploring secret places. Those adventures influenced parts of the books. Alfie’s granny is modelled very much on my Granny Dempsey who had the best stories about bizarre magical happenings that she swore were absolutely true.










How hard was it to get your first book published?
To me it seemed very hard. It took two and a half years from starting to apply to agents until signing a contract with Scholastic. However, after speaking to other authors it seems that I was actually pretty lucky! This was probably due to the amount of time I spent making sure that the book was as polished as I could possibly make it.

How many publishers turned you down?
Four, but all were very interested and gave me good feedback. I was turned down by nineteen agents before finding one to represent me.


Do you try and read the online reviews you get on say waterstones website?
I used to read most reviews as it feels amazing to read that people are loving the worlds and characters that you create. However, you can feel very disheartened when people leave low review scores. The worst is when adults leave reviews complaining that your kids books are more suitable for kids. I don’t read so many reviews now as those ones make me shout at the screen. However, I do read most blogger reviews. There are some brilliant children’s book bloggers out there and they help me find my next read.

Would you ever consider writing for teens or adults?
Yes, definitely. Although the teen books I have started writing tend to slip back into middle grade territory, so this must be where I fit the best! I do have quite a dark novel for adults that has been itching to get out for years. Hopefully I’ll have time to write it soon.

What did you do before becoming a writer?
I’m not lucky enough to be a full time writer, hardly any writers are as being an author is not a well paying job unless your books are extremely popular. My day job is lecturing in video game design at Teesside University. Before this I worked in the computer games industry as an artist on games for Playstation, XBox and PC.

Which author inspires you?
Terry Pratchett. He created an entire vast, rich world that holds a mirror up to our own. His witches are so brilliantly written, from Esk and Tiffany to the great Granny Weatherwax. I love visiting Ankh Morpork and the Ramtop mountains and hope to one day be half as good at world-building as he was.

Which genres do you read yourself?
By far my favourite is magical realism, for all age groups. I love to believe that strange and magical things are just around the corner in the real world.

What will always distract you?
Food, the cat, and social media before I started a family. Now my main, and very welcome, distraction is my daughter, Ashoka.

What is your biggest motivator?
The dream that I will be able to give up my day job to write full time one day. This would also give me more flexible time to spend playing and reading with Ashoka.

How much say do you have in your book covers?
Very little. Book covers are very much a marketing decision and can even be influenced by comments from supermarkets on what they think would work best on their shelves. I can send through a few thoughts, and did have some tweaks made to my covers, but you have to be able to let go and trust that your publisher knows best.

As a child were you a great reader?
I adored reading. I didn’t know what to do with myself when I ran out of reading material. I’d even read the back of cereal boxes when I ran out of books. I adored Enid Blyton, E Nesbit, C.S.Lewis, Roald Dahl, and pretty much anything with magic, mystery and adventure!

Which book shop is your favourite?
It’s impossible to have a favourite! So many are wonderful in so many ways, and a lot of this is down to the people working there. Some of my favourites are; The Book Corner in Saltburn, Forum Kids Books in Hexham, Barter Books second hand bookshop in Alnwick, Hatchards in London (always great for signed copies) Waterstones is great in their size and selection.

What can you not resist buying?
Special candles, for my writing ritual below!

Do you have any rituals on your writing days?
I like to light a nice woody scented candle when I am writing, the smell and the flame help me to focus. I often put on some music that evokes the emotion of the scene I’m writing, or the decade a story is set in.

How many books in your own to be read pile?
Too many. Now that I have a baby it may be a long time before that pile is tackled!

I’m currently reading Lumberjanes. A fab graphic novel series which has been sitting on my TBR pile for far too long!

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