Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Reader Q&A with Thomas Taylor


Thomas Taylor's incredible Eerie-on-Sea Mystery series started with Malamander back in 2019. It's become a hugely popular series with our young reviewers and they are really looking forward to the fourth book, Festergrimm coming out on 1st September.

We knew that one of our young reviewers, Samuel, aged 10, was a huge fan, so we asked him if he'd like to receive an early copy and ask Thomas some of his burning questions. Read on for their Q&A.

1) Is Eerie-on-Sea a real place that I can visit?

Hmm, sort of. There are five real seaside towns that inspired Eerie-on-Sea: Hastings Old Town is one, and Cromer is another, while the other three can be found name-checked as streets on the map of Eerie-on-Sea in the books. Do you live near any of these? Eastbourne Pier inspired the pier at Eerie, while the Eerie Book Dispensary is inspired by fabulous bookshops such as Shakespeare and Company in Paris (though without the Mermonkey, sadly). There is a house on the seafront in Bexhill-on-Sea which is covered in beachcombing finds, and this inspired Mrs Fossil’s Flotsamporium. If you go to any of these places, you can feel yourself at Eerie-on-Sea, especially in George Street or Rock-a-Nore in Hastings, or the seafront either side of the hotel overlooking the pier in Cromer. Have fun exploring!

2) You are my favourite author - who is your favourite children's author?  And what are your favourite childrens stories? 

Gosh, thank you! As for my own favourite, that's really hard to answer. I have always loved books by Alan Garner and Susan Cooper and Diane Wynne Jones, and Tolkein's Hobbit and Lord of the rings, of course. Also the Three Investigator Books. More recent authors I know I will always want to read are Philip Reeve, Katharine Rundell and Vashti Hardy. So many other names I could give though! 

3) How do you feel about publishing the last book in the series next year? I can't wait to read it but am sad that it will mean no more Eerie-on-Sea books. 

I am a little sad about it, too, but also excited to write something else. My new project will have the same feel and tone as the Eerie-on-Sea books, but with new characters and places, so I can't wait to get stuck into it. I do sometimes think I have at least one more Eerie-on-Sea book in me though, so I won't say we will never get to go there again.  

4) Have you got any more stories you would like to tell?  What do you want to write about next? 

Ah, this follows nicely from the last question. I would like to keep telling mystery adventure stories about legends, puzzles, friends and nice things to eat. I have an idea that I'm working on which is completely separate from Herbie and Violet's adventures, but which kind of fits alongside them, if you see what I mean. I suppose I mean it's a story that expands the world of Eerie-on-Sea and the strange magic we found there, without being about those things at all. Wish me luck! And I hope you will enjoy the new stories.

5) How do you get your ideas for your stories? 

Well, it's a question of noticing the world around me and snatching things that catch my eye, and mixing those things in with the ideas that are already swirling around in my mind. It's a bit like brewing stories in a witch's cauldron: what comes out will only be as good as what goes in. If the witch can sprinkle a bit of magic in there too, then so much the better.  

6) I live by the sea and love exploring rock pools. My best beach finds are fossils and a mobile phone! What are your most exciting beach finds?

Hello, fellow seasider! I am lucky to live in a place where dinosaur remains, and footprints, can be found on the beach, if the conditions are right. I actually have two pieces of fossilised dinosaur poo! Unlikely though it might sound, they are probably the most valuable things I've found beachcombing, which just goes to show that if you wait long enough, even poo can become treasure! It did take 135 million years though. 

7) Where is your favourite place to read?

I have a hammock between a holly and a willow tree at the bottom of my garden. I love reading there in the summer, and it's cool under the willow too. 

8) If you could be the mermonkey for one day who would you like to dispense a book to and what would it be? 

If I were the mermonkey for a day, I would indeed love to dispense a book to... you! If you put a penny in my hat -- or even just brushed the rim of it with your fingertips -- I would light up my eyes and show my horrible teeth and scream at you chimpishly as I typed out the code for your book. Then, since I expect you know how to read the mermonkey's code, you would head off into the bookshop with your friends and find your book. Not, perhaps, the book you were expecting, or even the book you wanted. but quite possibly the book you need. And the book you have been dispensed today is...

...FESTERGRIMM by Thomas Taylor! 😁

Thank you for asking such great questions. My very best and eeriest wishes to all at Toppsta!

Thomas Taylor

Reader Q&A with Thomas Taylor
Book pages Placeholder Book


When Herbie and Violet's arch-enemy Sebastian Eels turns up in Eerie-on-Sea, seemingly back from the dead, it can only spell bad news. The town may welcome his entrepreneurial scheme to resurrect Festergrimm's Waxworks, a dusty and defunct old gallery of spooky characters from Eerie legend, but Herbie and Violet are suspicious of his motives. And when they learn the legend of Ludo Festergrimm the clockmaker, creator of a vast mechanical robot that wrought havoc in the wrong hands, they KNOW they're on the right track. But how can they get the residents of Eerie-on-Sea to believe them?

You can read a sample chapter here.


Eerie-on-Sea Mystery Series

Reader Q&A with Thomas Taylor

31st August 2022

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