Children's author Ross Welford answers our questions about his new middle grade novel, The Kid Who Came From Space.
What is The Kid Who Came From Space about?
In a remote Northumbrian village 12 year-old Tammy goes missing. We soon learn that she has been abducted by aliens – one of whom, Hellyann, teams up with Tammy’s twin brother and his friend to get her back – all without alerting the authorities. There are some big fights and chases, plus huge ideas: all the stuff I like writing!
What inspired the story and the characters in it?
For this one, I picked the location first. It’s still in my beloved north-east (just) but I wanted a rural, wintry location for a change: I was probably just running out of adjectives for sunny beaches. The area around Kielder is a “dark sky reserve” and popular with star-gazers, so my thoughts turned to UFOs…
What is your writing process?
I am definitely a “pantser” rather than a “planner”. Once I know roughly where the story is heading, I can write fairly fast but I usually have to spend a while doodling around with characters and situations before I am confident. Even then, there may be lots of restarts. Once I’m up and running, the “process” involves nothing more complicated than having the discipline sit at my desk and hit my keyboard.
You were a journalist and television producer before becoming an author – do you think that has helped you when it comes to writing for children?
I dislike “fancy” writing, or any type of showiness, and I think that probably helps in writing for children – though I try to write simply for whoever is reading it. As a journalist, either for print or broadcast, you quickly learn to write clearly and concisely. You also learn to appreciate being edited (or at least not to take it personally) and the importance of a deadline.
What are you working on next?
I’m at the doodling stage of my sixth book for HarperCollins Children’s Books. I think it’s going to involve the Stone Age. Or a giant mutant crocodile. Or both. Or neither. Like I say, I’m just working it out!
The Kid Who Came From Space is published by HarperCollins Children's Books on 9th January.