Australian co-authors Mikki Lish and Kelly Ngai create worlds together, even though they don’t live on the same continent. Mikki has worked with many musicians and actors and now lives in America with her husband. Kelly lives in Australia with her two sons and loves waking up to the wild story ideas that Mikki has sent during the night.
@LishMiki and @Kelly_Ngai
Q&A with Mikki Lish and Kelly Ngai
Why did you want to write The House on Hoarder Hill?
Back in 2012, Mikki was struck by an idea that had two insistent parts to it: the name ‘Hedy Hoarder’ and the concept of two children who discover a derelict house full of hoarded enchanted objects. We first wrote a children’s feature script together (it’s sitting unproduced in a bottom drawer – every writer needs one of those, right?), but after it was done, Hedy Hoarder came back loud and clear, begging to have her story told.
We began writing it as a TV series but over time we felt we wanted to explore Hedy and Spencer’s world in narrative form, and delve more deeply into all the characters. Our hope was that this story would prompt readers to imagine the objects lying around their own homes might have magical qualities. And also, we’ve got an explanation for what happens to those single socks that go missing…
How do you create a mystery?
Our experience with this mystery was that we had to figure it out in reverse. We knew what Hedy and Spencer would uncover by the end – how it would pay off – so then we had to backtrack and set up the tapestry of clues, obstacles and the unexpected to make their solving the mystery a great adventure. We strived for a push-pull rhythm; have them uncover a clue, but then throw another obstacle in their path, because it couldn’t be too easy! Hopefully, some of our readers will go back and read it again, and enjoy picking up on Easter egg clues they missed the first time around.
Best and worst part of writing?
Mikki: Best for me would be coming up with a unique / fun / idea or moment. But most of all, collaborating with Kelly. We are kind of a ying and yang, balancing one another out in alot of ways when it comes to story-telling.
Worst – When one of the ideas I / we have come up with is fabulous but a stand-alone idea which we then have to figure out how and why it fits in the story! Also when I have accidentally contacted Kelly BEFORE she has had her soy flat white * see below ….
Kelly: The best part is when I get into the flow and the words come pouring out easily. On rare occasions, I feel like I’m writing as an adult and reading as a child in exactly the same moment. But a close second: making Mikki laugh.
Worst part is when our BRILLIANT editor, Rachel Leyshon, recommends a big cut or change and, after a moment of sulking and/or despair, we realise she is very much right and so we’ve got some hard re-writing work ahead.
What brightens your day?
Mikki: Corny, but my Golden Retriever, Nelsons ‘smile’ in the morning.
Kelly: Hugs with any or all of my two sons or partner, Brent.
Tea or coffee?
Mikki: I don’t drink coffee! ..and rarely do I drink tea!
Kelly: Strong Assam tea at 5am so I can stumble to my desk and start writing. Then hand me a soy flat white at around 9.30am and I will be so much nicer to talk to, I promise.
Finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
“Would you like more time to write the second book?”
If only! But seriously, we’re delighted (panicked and terrified, but delighted!) to be in the throes of writing the second Hoarder Hill book now.
When Hedy and Spencer start receiving messages on dusty picture frames, Christmas at their grandfather’s spooky house turns into a mission to solve the mystery of their grandmother’s disappearance. What is their magician grandfather not telling them? With the help of a (talking) mounted stag head, a bear rug (also talking), and other (currently) disembodied spirits, and against the resistance of gargoyles and ravens, Hedy and Spencer set out to find the truth.