Alex loves magic – its glamour, tricks and illusions.
He’s good at it, too: he’s reached the semi-finals of a prestigious competition for young magicians. But when he stumbles into eccentric Mr Olmos’s back garden while running from his former best friend, Alex sees something he can’t explain: three tiny flames floating in the air. Fire magic. Real magic. Soon, Alex and Mr Olmos are swept up in a great adventure of secrets, genies and an ancient, bitter rivalry…
Q&A with Guy Jones
What can readers expect from your second novel for children, THE FIRE MAKER?
The Fire Maker is the story of Alex, a twelve-year-old budding stage magician who discovers three fire spirits living in his neighbour’s garden shed. Things aren’t always easy for Alex; he’s picked on at school, his mum has left, and his dad spends most of the time at work. On the back cover my publisher, Chicken House, have summarised the story as Friendship – Magic – Adventure, and I think those three words capture perfectly what comes Alex’s way over the course of the book. It’s got everything from tender moments between friends all the way to climactic battles with fireballs. It’s also the story of Mr Olmos, who was a small character in my first book, The Ice Garden. We learn a lot more about him here…
Were there any challenges writing the second novel?
I think I made fewer obvious mistakes the second time around, whilst discovering a whole raft of new and exciting things to trip me up. The greatest challenge was the speed with which I had to pick an idea in the first place. The Ice Garden had been kicking around my brain for years before I put pen to paper. I started The Fire Maker about three hours after the idea first came to me.
Where/how do you write?
I’ve set up a lovely writing room in my house that is almost never used for actual writing. Instead I find I’m most productive on trains, in coffee shops and perched at the kitchen counter. I’m writing this answer on the Thameslink between St Albans and London St Pancras. The woman next to me is listening to music too loudly.
How I write has evolved over time. When I worked in theatre I used to try and plan everything out because that seemed to be the sensible thing to do. Now however I just write and see where the stories and characters take me. My first draft almost takes the place of a plan, and I have to be ruthless in cutting it to pieces later. My only hard and fast rule is that I never read back over what I’ve done the previous day. I just pick up from wherever I left off and get going. Otherwise I’d never get past chapter one.
What inspires your writing? What inspired you to write about magic?
I love magical realism. I love the imaginative leap. I love stories about normal people doing normal things who then find that something creepy or strange or uncanny has started to bleed in around the edges. I read all sorts of books, but those are the ones that give me the most pleasure and so those are the ones I tend to write. I’m also interested in how I can use unreal situations to explore real-world themes.
What would be your top tip be for aspiring authors?
There is nothing original in this advice but, firstly, read. Read in order to learn what you like and don’t like in other people’s writing. Read to ingest good writing through osmosis. And read because you love books, (otherwise why would you want to be an author?) And secondly write. No one ever became a writer by sitting around thinking about it.
And finally…. what is your favourite snack/drink to fuel your writing?!
THE FIRE MAKER by Guy Jones is out now in paperback
(£6.99, Chicken House)
Guy was born in Botswana, grew up in Bedfordshire and now lives in St Albans with his wife and step-daughter. He spent a decade writing for the theatre, including the West End musical Never Forget, before finally knuckling down to write a book.
Follow Guy on Twitter @guyjones80