Interview with Abi Elphinstone

Abi 1Abi Elphinstone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her tree house, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher in Africa, Berkshire and London.
The Dreamsnatcher is her debut novel and when she’s not writing about Moll and Gryff, she also runs her the children’s books blog www.moontrug.com.

Why did you want to write The Dreamsnatcher?
I tried writing three other books before The Dreamsnatcher but my heart was never properly in them – which is probably why I racked up 96 rejections from agents along the way! It was only when I thought back to my childhood in the wilds of Scotland – of the adventures I had with my siblings and the magic I discovered when reading books like The Chronicles of Narnia and Northern Lights, that I worked out what story I wanted to tell: one of children who live in wagons in the forest, of tree forts, river chases, catapults, magic and, of course, a fiercely loyal wildcat.

Best thing about being a writer?
The research process is soooooo much fun. In the run up to writing The Dreamsnatcher, I danced wooden puppets with a Romany gypsy, spied on wildcats in the snow and snooped out scary tribal masks in Zanzibar. And the moment when a book starts growing from dozens of notepads littered with scribbles to an actual story is also amazing. Ooooh, and typing as fast as you can to keep up with the ideas racing through your head – that’s awesome. But I reckon meeting the children who have read and loved your book is going to be pretty incredible, too.

Romany gypsy,  Pete Ingram

Romany gypsy, Pete Ingram

And the worst?
Doubting yourself and your talent.

Have you got your own place to write or can you write anywhere?
I have a writing hut in the garden. It’s covered in ivy and has a wooden sign hanging from the door saying: ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.’ Usually I write in there but if I’m not at home I write anywhere I can. I even wrote a chapter of the sequel on the back of a motorbike in Burma…

Changing the subject, apart from writing what do you love doing?
I love going on adventures, from big ones like abseiling 80metres into a cave in the middle of the Brazilian jungle, to smaller ones close to home like hiking up the Angus glens to find eagles and hidden waterfalls. I also love reading, watching David Attenborough nature programmes, imagining I’m a snow leopard and eating cookies with squidgy middles.

Abseiling into Brazilian Jungle

Abseiling into Brazilian Jungle

You’re at the airport with a free pass to get on any plane – where would you go?
To Svalbard or Alaska… I have a feeling my next series is going to be set in the Arctic. But if I’m being reeeeeeally honest, the place I most want to visit is Narnia. I’d love to chill out with Aslan in Cair Paravel for a weekend. Or eat shed loads of Turkish delight with Edmund.

When you found out you sold your book, how did you celebrate?
I sat down on my bed and cried for ages. Then on the day the deal was announced in The Bookseller, I hang-glided over Rio De Janeiro – one GREAT BIG jump for joy!

I’m giving you a free platform to talk about anything – GO:
That was dangerous, Luna… Right, I’m going to give a shout out to the best hairdos in children’s books:

  • Dumbledore from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books (well conditioned silver hair)
  • Gimli from JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (love a good plait)
  • Ada Goth from Chris Riddell’s Goth Girl (wild and Gothic – LOVE)
  • Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers (you could make lassos with golden locks like these and use them to swing through trees. That would be epic)
  • Astrid from Cressida Cowell’s How To Train Your Dragon (great fringe)
  • Anne from LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (red hair rocks)
  • Bixa from SF Said’s Phoenix (neon needles – what’s not to like?)
  • Puddleglum from CS Lewis’ The Silver Chair (the long, flat reeds are gloriously miserable)

Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
Um, I can beat most girls in an arm wrestling competition. Except Liz Kessler; she was annoyingly strong.

What happens next? (To Moll, Gryff, you, etc..)
Moll, Gryff, Siddy and Alfie are outlawed from the forest and forced into hiding in a cave down by the sea. I don’t want to give too much away but think smugglers, mer creatures, gypsy spells and lots of catapults…

Researching the sequel...

Researching the sequel…

Quickfire Round

What word describes you best?
Moontruggy.

Tea or coffee?
Banana milkshake.

When no one is watching do you dance?
Yup – sometimes I even practise The Worm.

Do you ever re-arrange book displays in bookshops?
No, but that may change once my book comes out…

What magic power would you like?
To fly.

Can I have my own Gryff? (Worth asking  :P)
You’ll have to ask Moll.

What book have you read the most?
The Worst Witch series.

The perfect cure to a bad day?
Watching How To Train Your Dragon 2.

Favourite dish? (that you can cook)
Beans on toast topped with cheddar cheese.

And finally, what’s the question you wish people would ask but never do?
What’s the best dream you’ve ever had? Riding a snow leopard Lyra-Iorek style over the Arctic ice plains.

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Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare – the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life. Because Moll is more important than she knows…The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure.

 

The Dreamsnatcher is published on the 26 Feb 2015
by Simon & Schuster

You can read my review by clicking the link HERE

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4 thoughts on “Interview with Abi Elphinstone

  1. Wonderful interview, Luna. I loved Abi’s brilliantly brilliant book (I read an advance copy). It is going to be HUGE!

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