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Q&A with Moonlocket author Peter Bunzl

19th July 2017

Test

Hi Alex,

Thanks for the questions about Moonlocket.

I shall try to answer them all for you!

Questions from Alex Hall (age 11)

1. How long did it take to come up with the story line for Moonlocket. How do you plan it out?  

Moonlocket took a year and six drafts to write, and the truth is the idea changed quite a bit as I worked on it. But when I started, I did make a plan.

In the beginning, when I am brainstorming, I will tend to write myself short notes about possible ideas. When I have a few of those, I gather them together and turn them into a ten page treatment - which is like a very brief version of the whole story, with just the main points in. I use that as a guide to start writing, but often, by about halfway through the first draft, the details have changed a lot from the things I first wrote down.

2. Do you draw pictures to help you describe people and places in your stories?

When I used to write for animation, I would always draw pictures of my characters to work out what they looked like and how they moved, their gestures and attitudes etc. I don't tend to do that anymore. Nowadays I much prefer to collect interesting photographs that reflect elements of my characters. 

When I was half-way through writing Cogheart, I found a picture of a girl and a fox on the internet, which was uncannily close to how I imagined Lily and Malkin looking. I kept that picture in mind while I was writing the book. Those kind of found real Victorian images are always very inspiring.

I am not sure about the origins of this picture or who took it. So if anyone has any information, I would love to know!

3. What do you think makes a good story line?

I like a storyline with a twist. Often it takes a bit of work to get the twist right, because you have to hide it in the narrative and plant clues, but not so many clues that you give away the twist. Then you have to work out at what point in the story to reveal it, and why, and how that effects everything else you are trying to write.

4. What is the best book ever written and why?

I am not sure I could choose the best book ever written. There are far too many that I have loved to make such a decision. The great thing is they were all very different. That’s the fantastic thing about reading. You can pick up any book and, by opening it and looking at the words, enter a world completely different to our own that an author has created for you. With all those worlds and dreams to experience, it would be very hard to choose only one. 

5. Have you ever been on an airship?

I haven't ever been on an airship, no. The last big airships were built some time in the 1930s. There was a massive German zeppelin called the Hindenburg which caught fire in a terrible crash in 1937, and after that every country stopped building airships. I saw recently that some American aerospace companies have been trying to bring back newly designed modern airships, so if that happens I would love to go on one. Failing that, I would also love to go on a trip in a hot air balloon – I think that would be awesome. Although, like Robert, I tend to get a bit afraid of heights in those situations.

6. What made you think of a steampunk themed story?

Originally, I wanted to write a story about automatons. Those are real clockwork robots that existed at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th Century. They were were incredible pieces of engineering. If you look them up on youtube you can see some amazing examples, a bit like the writing automaton in the film Hugo.

I wanted the automatons in my story to have moved on from reality to become clockwork mechanical robots that were almost human. I thought the end of the Victorian era, could be credible setting for this fantastical idea. Then, when I read some steampunk, I realized there could be airship battles and swashbuckling sky-piracy, as well as automaton in my story; and I was sold on that as a genre.

7. Have you ever been to a steampunk weekend anywhere? I live in Whitby where there are brilliant Goth and Steampunk weekends and lots to look at. Have you ever attended one there? What would your costume be like?

I have attended a Steampunk Festival. It was called Steampunks in Space and it takes place in the Leicester space museum. We did a question and answer session there about Cogheart and signed some books for people. It was fantastic fun to see everyone's costumes, and lots of kids were dressed up too, which was great. I dressed up a bit – I kind of went as Robert. It was lots of fun, so I would definitely go back and to another steampunk event.

Author Peter Bunzl at the Steampunks in Space festival in Leicester
At stempunks in space with a one of the cosplayers - Geoff Amo

8. The cover says you are an animator as well. Have you ever thought about making a film of Moonlocket?

Yes, I was an animator. If you visit my website: www.peterbunzl.com you can see some animations of the book covers for Cogheart and Moonlocket. And if you click on the film page you can see a few of the other animations and films I have made. 

I would love for there to be a film or TV series of Cogheart and Moonlocket. We have had some chats with people in the past about it, so we shall see if anything comes of any of those. Those kind of things can take a long time to happen.

9. Do you already know what Lily and Robert’s next adventure will be?

I do know what Lily and Roberts next adventure will be. I started writing the third book in the series a couple of months ago, and it's going pretty well, I'm very excited about the possibilities in the story. I am afraid I can't say anything about what happens yet though because it's top-secret. But this third book will be coming out sometime in 2018 - so look out for it.

10. Do you enjoy being an author or is there a job you would prefer over writing?

I love being an author because I love creating characters and worlds in my head and mixing them together into stories to see what might happen. If I had a job other than writing I would probably be an animator. It was the job I had before I became a writer and I loved bringing my characters to life that way too, although it is probably the only creative practice that's even slower than writing a book

Book pages Placeholder Book

Moonlocket

When infamous escapologist Jack Door breaks out from Pentonville Prison, he sets out for the town of Brackenbridge, determined to find his missing treasure - the Moonlocket. But when Lily and Robert unwittingly find themselves caught up in Jack Door's search, they discover that Robert's history holds the secret to the Moonlocket's whereabouts... Determined to solve the mystery, Lily, Robert and Malkin the mechanical fox, set out for London on an adventure full of danger, daring, family secrets and long-buried treasure...

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