Amy Wilson, author of Lightning Falls, Blog Tour Interview

Kicking off the blog tour for Amy Wilson’s Lightning Falls is such an unbelievable honour, not least because I am such a huge fan of Amy’s writing, and truly envious of this latest generation of middle grade readers that have access to the incredibly immersive worlds this talented author creates within her books. I recently had the chance to interview Amy for this feature, asking her all about her latest children’s book title, which published 19th August. I would like to thank Amy and Macmillan Children’s Books, for writing and publishing this book, which is my favourite read of 2021, for this unforgettable opportunity, and for this brilliant interview feature.

Congratulations on your latest middle grade book, Lightning Falls. It is one of my all time favourite reads, and children that I have shared extracts with have been utterly enthralled. How would you summarise the book to those yet to read it?

I’m so thrilled, thank you for sharing it with them! I think I’d say it’s a story about Valerie, a girl who has grown up with her chaotic ghost family in Lightning Falls Ghost House, haunting guests with her ghost sister Meg. She loves them all, but she does have questions about how she came to be at Lightning Falls, and when a boy appears on the viaduct by the cemetery he has some strange answers – as well as his own questions about the magic that surrounds Valerie and the house itself. Their adventure takes them over the bridge to a new world, but the real danger is much closer to home.

There are so many brilliant characters in Lightning Falls, with the story focusing on Valerie, who comes to meet a young boy, crucial to her story, Joe. Which of the characters did you most enjoy writing about, and why? 

I loved writing Valerie and Joe, and also Meg, Valerie’s ghost sister, who is a big Agatha Christie fan and not one to let a mystery go unsolved! I love the dialogue that brings all their relationships to life, and the characters Great Aunt Flo and Ted, the chef, are favourites too. They’re so distinct, and I think even the ones who don’t spend so much time on the page bring so much to the story, in terms of building family – and chaos!

The ghost house within the book is such an immersive property, offering up spooks, thrills, and plenty of tense moments. Is the building entirely fictitious or based on somewhere you have been?

t’s one of my very favourite things, to build a magical and slightly creepy house. I can’t quite explain why! I think Lightning Falls is probably based on lots of inspirations, from large country houses I may have visited on day trips to the sorts of houses you’d see in The Addams Family.  I love the idea of there being life in the very bones of the house, from the portraits that might talk to the groaning pipes, protesting at the cold, and I like playing with what a house might do if there really was magic inside.

Were there any special moments for you when writing this book, and did they differ from when you wrote your previous children’s books?

The sense of place in Lightning Falls is really strong, for me. I can picture the house and the river, the cemetery and the viaduct – it was the very first thing I knew, before any of the characters came in, so that’s a little different. Also then there’s a crossing to a whole other world, and while I have played in other worlds before, in Snowglobe and in the fae dimensions of A Girl Called Owl, this is something different. Orbis is an entire world with its own issues and its own rules, and it was so much fun to picture it and describe everything that makes it so magical.

There is a huge demand for spooky stories for children that enjoy middle grade, and Lightning Falls ticks all the boxes for an immersive, fun, atmospheric read that features ghosts, magic, mystery, and adventure. Will you be writing more books in this genre, perhaps a sequel to this title?

I would love to spend more time in Orbis! We’ll have to see what might come next – I do so love writing middle grade stories with a little supernatural/fantasy element, and I’m just very grateful that I’ve been able to continue doing it through six books now, and that people are still interested in reading them!

As an incredible children’s author, what one piece of advice would you offer children looking to write stories, perhaps something you follow in your own writing routine?

Try to finish your stories! I started to write when I was about eight, but I was over 30 by the time I found the confidence to stick with a story the whole way through. Remember that you can come back and edit when you’ve finished, so it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around, the main thing is to get it all down. Also, play. Play with your words, and let your mind play while you’ve a spare moment, just by staring into space or going for a walk. That’s where ideas come, I think.

Thank you so much for having me, and for all your very kind words, it’s been a pleasure to answer your questions!

Be sure to check out the rest of the Lightning Falls blog tour (see tour banner below), and get yourselves a copy of this must read of 2021, available to buy from all good booksellers now.

Check out the BookBound reviews of Lightning Falls here.

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