We are delighted to welcome Karen McCombie to Big Book Little Book as she talks about her latest novel, The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall. Ellis is losing track of time…
After leaving her friends to move to a crumbling Scottish mansion, Ellis is overcome by anxiety and loneliness. Then she hears whispers in the walls…and finds herself whisked back in time to 1912.
At first, she feels like she’s finally home. But the past may not be as perfect as it seems – and is there more to hope for in the present than she first thought? Wilderwood Hall is just one of many of your books, but can you tell us what your favourite book has been to write?
Erk! That’s a bit like asking me to choose my favourite child*! But okay, since you’re holding a gun to my head (sort of), I’ll say last year’s evacuee novel ‘Catching Falling Stars’, because it was my first historical book and fascinating to research. Though I did love writing ‘Life According to Alice B. Lovely’… the weird and wonderful Alice B. still feels spookily real to me. Oh, and my younger ‘You, Me and Thing’ series was SO much fun to write, and I adored the illustrations Alex T. Smith did for it. And– [large hook appears and pulls Karen away from the keyboard…] Here at Big Book Little Book, we would love to know how you first got into writing?
I worked as a teen magazine journalist, occasionally writing short stories for the mags. Reviewing books wasn’t part of my job, but I loved flicking through the novels that publishers sent in. The great ones inspired me to have a go myself. The not-so-great ones inspired me too, just in a different way! Over your time writing you have written both series and standalone books, what is your favourite kind to write and why?
I’m lucky enough to write not only standalones and series, but books for different ages and genres too. I even write for a dyslexia-friendly/struggling reader-friendly publisher, and that’s pretty interesting because you have to think about complex phrasing etc that can trip up less confident readers. And the truth is, I enjoy all these different styles of books. Going back and forth between a long-form novel and then a short early reader, for example, is really great; the change of pace keeps you fresh. Do you have any odd writing habits? (i.e. having to listen to music?)
Oh, I’d LOVE to listen to music! I’m so envious of authors who talk about the playlists they devised as a background mood for their work in progress… But it’s fatal for me; I just end up tuning into the words instead of my work. Even instrumental music doesn’t help; I start daydreaming and staring out of the window. Where is your favourite place to write?
I am such a fidget, especially in the mornings; like a dog, I need to go out for a walk. So most mornings, I pack my laptop and head out to work in a café or library, which makes me more settled and focussed for writing in my wee back bedroom office in the afternoons. But my favourite place to write is the local garden centre café. It’s so light and bright, and perfumed by plants…it’s just fab. And most importantly, it has cake. What is your favourite thing about being an author?
Ooh, there’s a lot of good stuff: dreaming up a new idea; having an editor love it; finding a way to solve something you’re stuck on; the thrill of finishing your novel; going out to schools for events… But my favourite? Well, nothing beats seeing your ACTUAL book in an ACTUAL shop. That’s always a total buzz. If you had to describe Wilderwood Hall in a tweet (140 characters), what would you say?
I just practised on Twitter! So, here it is…
Ellis struggles with loneliness when she and Mum move to a dilapidated mansion in Scotland. That’s till she hears the whispers in the walls… Who is your favourite character in Wilderwood Hall?
Ellis; when she struggles with waves of anxiety I want to wrap my arms around her and tell her it’ll be okay. I’d like to tell my 13-year-old self the same, sometimes. (I tell my daughter sometimes too.) If you could live in any fictional world, which one would you choose?
Could I just visit? I’d love to spend time with author Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family in her autobiographical world of ‘Little House of the Prairie’. To see the prairies and buffalo and unspoilt world of 19th century America… it would be truly amazing. But then I’d like to come back to my sofa and eat crisps and watch ‘Friends’ with my daughter. What is your next book going to be about? If you’re allowed to let us know!
I’m writing more historical and more funny books (not at the same time, or in the same books!). I’m not sure yet which is going to be published when, so if I say which novel is coming next, I’ll probably get it wrong and look stupid. But hey, looking stupid doesn’t usually stop me doing anything!
* Milly. Phew that was hard**.
** Alright, alright, she’s my ONLY child, so it wasn’t that difficult, I suppose! Interview questions by Faye Karen McCombie is from Aberdeen but now lives in North London with her husband, daughter and one big ginger cat.
Before Karen became a full-time writer she worked for several teen magazines such as Just Seventeen, Bliss and Sugar in a variety roles – everything from Fashion Editor to Features Editor – all very exciting and glam!
Karen has sold over one million books in the UK alone and has been translated into 15 languages.
Find out more at www.karenmccombie.co.uk and take the opportunity to join Karen’s Club!
The lovely people at Scholastic have provided us with one copy of Karen McCombie‘s The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall for one lucy Big Book Little Book reader. IF you could travel in time, when would you travel to and why?
To enter the giveaway, simply let us know, in the comments below, when you would like to travel to and why.
One commentor will be randomly selected to receive one book.
UK and IRL only
Comments made after the 24th of June will no longer be counted as entries.