Gabrielle Kent has worked in and around the videogames industry for fifteen years and currently lectures in games art and design at Teesside University.
As well as teaching, she directs and presents Animex, the UK’s largest annual games and animation festival, bringing young people together from all over Europe.
Gabrielle has written and contributed to a number of articles, papers and broadcasts on gaming and is a regular judge on the Games BAFTA awards. In 2006 she was voted one of the Top 100 most Influential Women in the games industry by US based Next Gen magazine.
Interview with Gabrielle Kent
Why did you want to write the Alfie Bloom Series?
I adore magical realism novels. When I was a child I was convinced that fantastical creatures and magic are all around us – if we know where to look for them. Reading was a way for me to find that magic. I never lost that feeling and writing the Alfie Bloom series feels like a way of paying back and following in the footsteps of the authors who introduced magic into my childhood.
Did you do research for the books?
(Please tell me it involved finding castles with dragons).
I ALWAYS visit castles wherever I go, but sadly I haven’t found a dragon yet. I live in the beautiful North East of England and there are some wonderful castles up here with great histories. Hexbridge Castle has elements of each of them, from the magical tree in the courtyard to the inglenook fireplaces, painted ceilings and unusual plumbing. I’m currently on a relaxing break up in Northumberland and plan to visit Alnwick and Chillingham castles. I’ll also be taking a trip out to the Farne Islands as one of them features heavily in my third Alfie Bloom novel.
If you were a resident of Hexbridge Castle, who would you be?
Well, she’s not exactly a resident of the castle, but Alfie’s best friend Amy Siu is so laid back and effortlessly cool. I would have loved to be like her when I was a kid. Unfortunately I was always running headfirst into situations and doing embarrassing things, so I guess I’m more Maddie than Amy – although the life of Galileo the cat is one I could easily get used to!
Also, when you get your own castle, what are the 3 essential magical items/beings that are a must?
Ooh, good question!
- A magical library that conjures up every book I could possibly want.
- A portal that takes me to a different magical world each time I step through it – like the changing worlds at the top of the Faraway Tree.
- An Artan! Alfie’s flying, talking, punning bearskin rug is perhaps my favourite character. I would LOVE to have him as both a friend and a mode of transport.
What did you do the first time you saw one of your books in a bookshop?
It was a bit of a trek to find it. On launch day I skipped into Waterstones and WHSmiths in my hometown of Middlesbrough only to find they were the only branches in the region that weren’t stocking the book. So, I hopped in the car and drove to ASDA only to find the label was on the shelves but a stock system error meant that the books themselves had not yet come in. Jenna from The Corner Bookshop in Saltburn saw my search for Alfie on twitter and let me know that her shelves were brimming with copies. I shot over to Saltburn and felt as though my heart was going to burst when I saw the book, MY BOOK, sitting proudly alongside so many authors I know and love. It was an incredible feeling. I took lots of photos so that I wouldn’t think it had all been a glorious dream. Then, seeing as I was in Saltburn, we popped down to the sea front for celebratory fish and chips. Yum!
Can you tell us something about yourself that not many people know:
I changed my first name to Gabrielle when I was twenty-two. I’m not telling you what my first name used to be, but it was alliterative. My parents admitted they thought they had made a mistake when they gave me the name. It was a perfect time to make the change as I was just leaving university and starting work. Everyone in my new job knew me only as Gabrielle. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that everyone would immediately shorten my lovely new name to Gabby. Some online bookstores even abbreviate my author listing to Gabby Kent – that REALLY makes me cringe!
Best and worst thing about being a writer?
- Worst – Motivating yourself. Writing is hard, so very, very hard! Some days it can be a real struggle to get words down but you have to keep pushing yourself, even if you just want to curl up on the sofa and read something by someone else.
- Best – That feeling of absolute joy when you get your first fan letter, and when children come up to you and tell you about their favourite moments in the book. That’s when you realise that your stories are just as much theirs as they are your own.
Apart from writing what do you love doing?
With a full time job as well as my writing I find it difficult to do anything else. However, my degree was in illustration and I do like to draw when I have the chance. I also go through phases of making jewellery, clay creatures, origami sculptures, anything that takes my fancy. Being a lecturer in computer games design I also like to play lots of games – for research of course!
What’s the perfect cure to a bad day?
A walk through the woods, or by the sea, before snuggling down under a blanket with a purring cat to re-read a very worn copy of an all time favourite book.
And finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
“Gabrielle, we’ve discovered you’re the heir to a castle full of wonders and secrets. When would you like to move in?”
Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief is OUT NOW
When Alfie Bloom inherited a castle and a centuries-old magic, his dull and lonely life was changed forever. But Alfie’s new life has come with dangers he never could have expected. When Ashford the butler is kidnapped in the middle of the night, the castle comes under threat from a terrifying enemy. Trapped inside with only his twin cousins and best friend Amy, it’s up to Alfie to defend his inheritance and prevent a terrible fate from befalling the whole of England!
Title: Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief (Alfie Bloom #2)
Author: Gabrielle Kent
Release Date: 2nd June 2016
Genre: MG Fantasy
Age Range: 8-12 year olds
Goodreads ………………. Amazon