Abi Elphinstone Interview - Author of The Unmapped Chronicles Series
Abi Elphinstone is my favourite author of all time, so Evie and I were thrilled when she kindly agreed to be interviewed by The Book Review Society! Stay tuned for the release of Crackledawn Dragon in June, the finale of the Unmapped Chronicles. We cannot wait!
1. Have you always loved writing?
Yes. I always felt, even as a young girl, that there was something magical about putting pen to
paper. I wrote stories, plays, newspaper articles, diary entries. I also doodled a lot as a child: horses, cartoon faces, secret kingdoms. I’m terrible at drawing but again, I felt a sort of magic take hold when I picked up a pen or pencil. I used to love that you could create something out of nothing simply by imagining.
2. What was your first ever book you had published?
It took me 7 years, 3 failed books and 96 rejection letters from agents to get my first book deal. So, it was 2015 that I had my first book published: The Dreamsnatcher. I was so completely thrilled I went paragliding off a mountain to celebrate!
3. Who or what inspired you to write?
I’m a writer because the wild made me one. I grew up at the foot of a glen in Scotland and the rolling moors, crashing waterfalls and sprawling forests set my mind reeling with story ideas. I also think my mum played a part in it all – she told me never to give up when pursuing a passion and that advice proved invaluable years later when I faced numerous rejection letters from agents.
4. What do you do if you have writers block?
I run. I live on the east coast of Scotland and whenever I’m struggling for ideas I set off running down the beach.
I only turn back again, to go home, when I’m armed with enough ideas to spark a story or solve a block in my current story.
5. What was your favourite book when you were 10?
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. The heroine, Lyra Silvertongue, taught me girls can be just as brave as boys, grown-ups and even armoured polar bears.
6. Who or what inspired the Unmapped Chronicle series?
It started with a daydream, a what if, in my writing shed. I thought back to all the incredible skies I’d seen on my adventures over the years – pink sunrises, orange sunsets, rain that summoned rainbows and made waterfalls roar, and snow that built jewellery out of spider webs – and I started wondering: what if all the grown-ups have got it wrong about our skies? What if it isn’t science and geography behind the weather but magic? What if there are four secret kingdoms – Rumblestar, Crackledawn, Jungledrop and Silvercrag – filled with fantastical creatures who conjure weather for our world? Perhaps drizzle hags brew rain and snow trolls beaver away with moon syrup and cloud wisp to make snow?
And so the idea for the Unmapped Kingdoms came about. Each book in The Unmapped Chronicles follows a child from our world finding a way through to a different Unmapped Kingdom where an evil harpy called Morg is wreaking havoc and, in turn, sending our world’s weather into chaos. It’s up to these kids from our world to set things right.
7. Who inspired the character Casper Tock from Rumblestar?
Casper Tock hates risks and is allergic to adventures (at the start of the story, anyway) and he is based on my younger brother. When my brother was little, he was very shy and he used to get very nervous about new experiences – but over the years he’s become brave and confident so I think I had him in mind when creating Casper. Slumbergrot, the cloud giant, is based on my dad. Every time my dad works himself up to say something important, he falls asleep – just like Slumbergrot…
8. What character are you most like from your books?
I’m a little like Eska from Sky Song in that I love wild landscapes and wild animals. But then again I’m quite like Utterly Thankless from Rumblestar, too: headstrong, stubborn and often getting up to mischief.
9. Can you sum up your new book 'The Crackledawn Dragon’ in 3 words?
Adventurous, magical, funny.