At BookBound we love the opportunity to delve further into the books that we have read, reviewed, and recommended because of how much we love them. One such title is that by the incredibly talented Juliette Forrest, author of Twister (2018), and The True Colours of Coral Glen (2019). Juliette’s latest middle grade masterpiece The Night My Dreams Came Alive was published in early August this year, and is a title we both highly recommend for readers aged 8-12 years. BookBound co-owner Helen recently featured the title on the blog in her reviews of brilliant August publications, and it can be found here.
Helen stated Juliette is a fresh new voice in the world of middle grade books, and nothing could be more true. If you haven’t yet picked up any of the books written by Juliette then you are in for a real treat, especially as the attention to detail in her writing gives your reading experience a whole new level of depth and immersivity. It has been a real pleasure to ask Juliette questions in relation to her newest children’s book, and we know you will love the additional insight this author interview offers.
Thanks so much Juliette for taking time to answer these questions, I read your book The Night My Dreams Came Alive while on holiday, it was the perfect book to take with me, can you tell us a bit about the Book? (-Helen)
Firstly, can I just thank you both very much for such brilliant questions and for having me on the BookBound Blog! The Night My Dream Came Alive is a story about a girl called Ollo who can’t dream. Luckily for her there’s a shop in town, run by the enigmatic Mr Curley, who sells every dream imaginable to children. What Ollo doesn’t realise is that if she has one, what she dreams of will come alive. This book is packed with magic, adventure and lots of laughs as Ollo and her friends try to capture a nightmare she’s released into the town.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, how you got into writing, and where your ideas come from? (-Sam)
A few years ago I joined a Saturday morning writing class at Glasgow University. The teacher told me that he thought one of my short stories could be turned into a book, so I gave it a go. I went on to win a New Writers Award from Scottish Book Trust. They gave me a bursary and lots of support including a mentor, who helped me knock the manuscript into shape. Everything fell into place from there. Margaret Attwood believes ideas come from a dark place that is not quite of this world. Elizabeth Gilbert thinks ideas are alive and look for people to manifest themselves in. I’m not always sure where mine come from, but it can feel like some kind of magic has taken place when they appear.
I loved the main character Ollo, I think she’s smart, and very brave and knows her own mind, what made you decide that your book would have a female lead? (-Helen)
When I started writing Twister, the protagonist was a boy, but everyone in my writing class believed Twister was a girl – so I ran with it. All my books have female protagonists. I love writing strong, brave, feisty girls who find a way to overcome the problems facing them.
The story deals with the important issue of bullying which of course many children have faced, have you had any experience of bullying and what would your advice be to a child who finds themselves in Ollo’s position? (-Helen)
Bullying is something that can happen at any time in your life. I was never bullied as a child but encountered it many years later in the workplace. My advice to a child would be to open up about what’s happening to a trusted adult. In the story, Ollo didn’t report the bullying and her closest friend even joined in. I think it’s important that if children witness this happening at school they should stick up for the person being bullied by reporting it.
In the book Ollo is desperate to have a dream, because that’s one thing she can’t do, if I was to take dream drops I want it to involve unicorns, fairies, dragons and some magic, what would your dream be? (-Helen)
Great question! A relative of mine is an engineer who designed and worked on the moon buggy. I’m fascinated by outer space so I’d pick Galaxy Exploration DreamDrops to see the universe in all its entirety – and have a plenty of adventures along the way.
Whenever I finish a book I wonder if the author has left room for a follow up, in my opinion there are several ways Ollo’s story could go, is a second book likely? (-Helen)
When you write a story, characters and places become so real it’s hard not to imagine what might happen to them after the end of their first adventure. I could totally see Ollo, the knight and Sausage getting together again. At the moment, I have other books I want to work on, but who knows what the future will hold.
What research did you undertake for this book? (-Sam)
I took a course on lucid dreaming and researched what dreams mean people around the world. This was fascinating. I realised we can be quite dismissive of our dreams compared to other cultures who place much more importance on them. Some of the story is set in a high-rise. This is because I live in Glasgow and at one point the city had the most tower blocks in Europe. I researched articles about high-rises, studied photos and watched film clips and documentaries. When they were first built people used to call them ‘communities in the sky.’
Can you tell us a little bit about what readers can expect next for you? (-Sam)
My next project releases in September 2022. It’s a bit of a departure from Twister, The True Colours of Coral Glen and The Night My Dream Came Alive. However, it will feature a strong female protagonist, who has an extraordinary sidekick I’m hoping readers will fall in love with. It’ll be my first book set in the wilds of Scotland.
There are lots of middle grade books that would be ideal to be made into films, this book is definitely one of them, would you allow that to happen? (-Helen)
Thank you! That is such a lovely thing to say. I can’t think of anything more exciting than one of my books being made into a film. That really would be a dream come true.
At BookBound we are both primary school librarians that love to share new titles with students, and this book is one of them. What are your all time favourite children’s books? (-Helen and Sam)
I was lucky in that my mum took me to the library all the time so there were never any shortages of books at home. I adored The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, A Necklace of Raindrops by Joan Aitken with its wonderful illustrations by Jan Pienkowski, Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, all the Tintin adventures by Hergé, Watership Down by Richard Adams, I’m the King of the Castle by Susan Hill, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume and The Explorer by Katherine Rundell. My dad used to read me books by Laurie Lee and Dylan Thomas, and even though they’re not for children, I always add them in with my favourites.
The Night My Dream Came Alive by Juliette Forrest is out now, published by Scholastic, and priced at £6.99 (pb). We want to extend our thanks to Juliette for taking part in this blog feature, and to Scholastic for helping us make this dream content a reality.