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Reader Q&A with Katherine Rundell

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Katherine Rundell is a firm favourite here at Toppsta and our readers have been enthralled by her latest book Rooftoppers.

I love it! It is exciting, adventurous and just an amazing book Shereads, aged 10

I find it very hard to decide on my favourite books but Rooftoppers sticks out a mile. KaiaBeth, aged 10

I absolutely LOVED it and read it in one day! BookBoyBlogger, aged 10

Rooftoppers has an amazing storyline that makes you want to read it all in one go. Shivani, aged 9

It made me feel anything could happen and I wish there was a sequel. I really loved it. Librarylover, aged 11

Rooftoppers has won both the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award. It follows the gripping adventures of Sophie, a young girl determined to find out the secrets of her past and track down her mother before she gets sent to an orphanage for good. As Sophie tries to out-run the authorities, she falls in with Matteo and the rooftoppers - urchins who walk tightropes and live in the sky. In a race across the rooftops of Paris, will they be able to find her mother before it's too late?

One lucky Year 5-6 class in the Rhondda valleys of South Wales won the chance to ask Katherine some questions about her writing, the book and her advice to all the 10 year olds out there.

Thank you to Dosbarth Aur and to Katherine for this great Q&A!

Toppsta
2021-05-20
Reader Q&A with Katherine Rundell
Class Photo
Dosbarth Aur, Llwynypia Primary School.

1. What inspired you to write these books? Are they based on experience?

The inspiration for Rooftoppers came from an unusual hobby I have; I love to go climbing across rooftops, up skyscrapers, and to see the world from up above. One night I was on a rooftop of the old Oxford college where I teach English literature, and I started to think: what if somebody lived up here? What would that be like?

2. How long did it take you to publish your first ever book?

I was 21 years old when I started writing my first book; the first draft took about a month but then all the re-writes took more than a year! I like to write a quick first draft and then edit and edit and edit until it shines. I always say: you can make bad writing into good writing, but no writing remains no writing: so if you get stuck, let yourself write badly, and then come back later and hammer it into shape.

3. Are you planning to write any other books? Will they be adventures as well?

Yes! I hope to keep writing until the day I die. My next book will be an adventure story, full of terrible risks and brave children.

4. How old were you when you started writing stories?

I was about six or seven when I first started to write little stories as presents for my mum and dad - just a few paragraphs long. If ever you are wondering what to give you parents for a Christmas present, I know they would love a story, written and illustrated by you! 

5. Do you have any favourite authors?

I love Philip Pullman and Diana Wynne Jones. Of new writers, I love the murder mystery series by Sharna Jackson, called High Rise mystery.

6. As you write children’s books, do you prefer reading adult books or children’s books?

I love to read both! I especially read children’s books when I’m in need of a wild adventure, or something short and sharp and sweet.

7. How many books are you planning to write?

I’m 33 now, and I hope to write a book every few years for at least the next 50 year, so....lots!

8. Do you play any musical instruments?

Not very well; my brother was a professional musician for a long time and he got all the musical genes. (His name is Gerard and Gérard in Rooftoppers is based on him).

9. Will you ever write an adult book?

Yes! I love to write for adults too - I have just finished a non-fiction book about the wonderful poet John Donne, who lived at the same time as Shakespeare, for adults. 

10. What words of advice would you give to a 10 year old?

I would say: one of the most powerful things you can do in life is fall in love with reading. Books crowbar the world open for you; they can  take you on adventures and they can be like your funniest friend telling you their best story. It sometimes takes a bit of searching to find the right kind of book for you, but once you’ve found it, it’s like winning the lottery for life.

Toppsta
2021-05-20
Reader Q&A with Katherine Rundell
Book pages Placeholder Book

Rooftoppers

Go on an adventure with Katherine Rundell ... Winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize | Winner of the Blue Peter Book Award Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal | From the winner of the Costa Children's Book Prize 


Everyone tells Sophie that she was orphaned in a shipwreck - found floating in a cello case on the English Channel on her first birthday. But Sophie is convinced her mother also survived. When the Welfare Agency threatens to separate her from her guardian and send her to an orphanage, Sophie takes matters into her own hands, starting with the only clue she has - the address of a cello-maker in Paris. On the run from the authorities, Sophie finds Matteo and his network of rooftoppers - urchins who walk tightropes and live in the sky. In a race across the rooftops of Paris, will they be able to find her mother before it's too late? Hopeful, inspiring and thrilling in equal measure, this is a classic adventure story about pursuing your dreams and never ignoring a possible.

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20th May 2021

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Featured Book
Bumble and Snug and the Angry Pirates: Book 1
Bumble and Snug and the Angry Pirates: Book 1

BOOK OF THE WEEK - We love this full-colour, graphic novel, pirate adventure. It's perfect for young readers and fans of Dog Man.

View book