What made you want to write the Strangeworlds series?
I love books and stories where ordinary characters get to do extraordinary things, or visit extraordinary places. Books like Pages & Co., or His Dark Materials have always been my favourite things to read, so I think I was probably always going to write a story about travelling to other worlds one day, it was just a matter of waiting for the right idea of how the characters were going to travel. And the idea of the suitcases just came to me out of nowhere!
Did anything inspire you to create Flick?
I didn't know Flick very well at all when I first started writing the books - it took me until I got to the end of the first draft of The Strangeworlds Travel Agency to really know her. I wanted her to be an ordinary girl who had big dreams, but hadn't had the opportunity to achieve them until now. And by the time I'd written the first draft, I felt like I'd got to know her enough so we were best friends! This made editing the book easier because she was super familiar to me after that, and I knew how she would react to situations, and what she would say without having to think about it.
How long did it take you to write the books?
It usually takes me about four months to draft a book, but then my editor and I will work on it together on and off over the course of about a year to make it into the best book it can be. But even when I'm not sitting at the computer typing the story out, I'm writing it in my head! I get told off for sitting staring into space but I'm not doing nothing, I'm writing in my head, I promise!
Who was your favourite character to write?
Jonathan is fantastic fun to write because he doesn't have much of a filter and his speech is very detailed and expressive. He almost always says what he is thinking, whether or not it might be welcome or polite. He has nice manners, but is very rude at the same time because he is 100% done unless he's sat down in a comfy chair with a cup of tea and a biscuit. He comes across as the oldest teenager in the multiverse, and I absolutely love him.
How did you feel after the books were released?
Amazing! I'd wanted to be an author since I was in infant school, but didn't know how to make it happen, or if it ever would. It seemed to me that all the authors I liked were rich and posh and lived in London, and I was a kid at state school that didn't even have a library. But I've always loved stories so much that I never gave up on my ambition of trying to be an author. So, it really is a dream come true to see my books out there in the world.
What is your favourite book?
My favourite book is The Truth by Terry Pratchett - it's about a young man and woman and their vampire friend who try to start a newspaper whilst ending up tangled in a criminal investigation. I love it because it's a fantastic mix of real-life problems (like trying to get people to buy a new newspaper) and complete fantasy mayhem (like having to deal with your vampire photographer ending up as a pile of dust whenever the flash goes off on his camera). Whilst it's set in the magical universe of Discworld, it's perfect to pick up and read by itself.
Were you excited or nervous whilst writing the second book?
I was really excited! I loved writing the second book and getting to spend more time with Flick and Jonathan, and introducing new character Avery into the story as well. Although The Edge of the Ocean takes place mostly in one magical world, I feel like the characters do a lot of growing up in this book and learning about themselves emotionally and literally. I also had great fun writing about the pirates who live in The Break, and I would have loved to spend more time with them all!
Did you cry at any of the sad parts?
I think I must be a robot, because I didn't actually realise how sad the sad parts were until someone else told me. I must admit to doing an evil laugh at one point, though...! Sorry about that.
Describe what is feels like to finish writing a book in three words
Freedom! Achievement! Fear!
These books are brilliant, and you will now be many children's favourite author - but who is your favourite author?
Thank you so much! My favourite author changes all the time, but I love Alice Oseman, Frances Hardinge and Akwaeke Emezi a lot!