reader q&A with vashti hardy
1. In Raven Riddle there is a mechanical raven. What mechanical pet would you choose?
I would go for a mechanical wolf because they’re intelligent and loyal to their pack. I also think it would look really cool too!
2. Were you ever in scouts or a club that taught you fighting and skills that you used the ideas from for the characters?
I was a venture scout for a while but we didn’t learn any martial arts. I would love to give Kung Fu a try — it looks really fun as well as requiring discipline and focus. I think that’s why I made Grace good at martial arts because she loves to have fun as well as mastering different skills.
3. Did you have the ideas for all of the books before you started writing?
No, I’m never sure until I’ve finished the last book! I have lots of possibilities stored in my imagination, and when it comes to writing the next I have a good brainstorm and try to work out which would work best for the next adventure. I like to collect pictures that could spark the next idea and help me build the next setting Grace travels to.
4. Where do you like to be when you write books?
I like writing at my desk where I have a pinboard of inspiring photos and a nice view, but really I’m happy anywhere. I also love to have nice things around me when I write, like fairy lights and snacks, and I often listen to movie soundtracks to get me in the writing zone. Other places I write are in the garden, on the sofa (comfy!) and even on the beach.
5. How many books have you written?
This year my tenth book is out, but I have four more which are in progress at the moment. I’m juggling three series with the Griffins, Harley Hitch, and Brightstorm, as well as standalone stories. I love writing series as they give you a chance to get to know characters in all sorts of situations. It’s like visiting old friends.
6. What is your favourite book you have written and why?
That’s a difficult question because I’m proud of them all in their own way, but if I had to choose one, I would say Brightstorm because it was my first published book and without it I wouldn’t have all the others!
7. What is your favourite book to read?
I’ma big fan of the Wolf Brother series by Michelle Paver. They’re great adventures set in Stone Age times and have fabulous maps. You can probably tell by my books that I love maps!
8. Do your children like to read your books?
My children are all grown up now and they don’t always read the whole thing, but they are really helpful when I’m bouncing ideas around. I chat to them a lot about the storylines and different ways I could go with plot and character.
9. You have written lots of adventure stories do you like to go on adventures or did you play adventures when you were younger?
When I was growing up we didn’t have much money for trips abroad, so all my adventures were playing with my siblings and cousins in my Nan’s huge garden, or scrambling over the beaches and hills of Sussex pretending I was in an amazing fantasy adventure like Narnia or the Hobbit. I always had a big imagination for teleporting myself to other worlds.
10. In Raven Riddle Grace is a really strong girl. Do you think it's important to show that girls can be strong?
Absolutely. I always try to create worlds that have a varied portrayal of different roles and personalities. Grace is strong mentally as well as physically capable, but she also has flaws in that she can be a bit rash with her decisions at times. I also think it’s good to have characters that might have a quieter strength. I was quiet at school, but sometimes quiet people have the strongest and noisiest thoughts! I think Tom has a quiet strength in the series, which is why he and Grace compliment each other and make a good team.