Back in May 2011, we were offered the chance to read advance copies of the first book in a new series by Garth Nix and Sean Williams – Trouble Twisters. It’s part one of a new 5 part series, and the Year 5s who got hold of the advance copies all seemed to agree it was a great read and can’t wait for the next book in the series!
But even more exciting than getting the books before publication, the whole Year 5 class had the chance to interview Garth and Sean by asking questions on email. Thanks so much to Jo Hardacre at Egmont for setting this up for us, the pupils really felt special!
(UK Cover to Trouble Twisters Book 1)
In Troubletwisters two young twins; Jack and Jadie discover that not only do they have a mysterious “Grandma X”, but they also have equally mysterious superpowers! They are the Troubletwisters, Jadie has control over the weather and Jack can make himself seemingly disappear int the shadows.
They leave their family behind and follow Grandma X to a secret organisation that desperately needs the twins, in their new roles as Troubletwisters, to help in an age-old struggle against the ancient being known as “THE EVIL”. Along the way theyll face talking cats, tornados, ants, cockroaches and much more. And they’ve still got to get to grips with their astonishing new powers
A thrilling adventure, with a healthy dose of mystery, intrigue, weirdness and all-too familiar sibling problems, Troubletwisters is just the first book in a series of five from Australian authors Garth Nix and Sean Williams.
Garth Nix’ is best known for his award-winning fantasies Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen and the seven books of The Keys to the Kingdom series. His books have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, The Guardian, The Sunday Times and The Australian. Number-one New York Times-bestseller Sean Williams is the author of The Fixers, The Broken Land, and The Books of the Change for young readers. He also writes space opera and the occasional Star Wars novel, most recently The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance and The Force Unleashed II.
(L: Sean Williams, R: Garth Nix)
Okay, enough from me….. here’s Year 5 (with me butting in occasionally) doing a great job of interviewing two best-selling authors….
Mr Bruton: First of all, Garth and Sean, thank you very much for agreeing to do this for the Year 5 pupils at Wilberfoss Primary School. They were really, really pleased to have the opportunity to get hold of Troubletwisters before it was officially published and on the shelves. We gave four copies of the book out to four pupils pulled from a hat of those that really wanted to read it, and then asked them and the rest of the class to think up a few questions to ask you about the book.
So, without further ado, here’s Year 5……..
Megan: What inspired you to write the book?
Sean Williams: A whole bunch of things, really. We wanted to write a story like the kind of books we grew up reading, and which our own kids might like, too. We wanted to work together on something fun. We both like adventure, magic, and strange people doing strange things–and I’m immensely interested in twins, so there’s that as well.
Garth Nix: Sean has said it all really! I think every book I write, or co-write, is inspired by all the books I loved growing up. I mean I want to write the kinds of books that got into my head when I was young, and really opened up my imagination.
James: How long did it take you to write the book? And where do you get your ideas from?
SW: From start to finish, the book took around 18 months to write, but a lot of that was thinking and talking rather than actual writing. There might have been some staring blankly into space, too.
GN: It’s always hard to answer a question about how long a book takes to write. There’s thinking time, making notes time, talking about the story time . . . and that’s often before any words are actually written down.
Mr B: And how does the collaboration between you work, did one of you have the idea first and then the other expanded upon it, or did you decide to work together and then you both worked on the story afterwards? Once you had the idea how was it actually written between the two of you? All sorts of silly possibilities suggest themselves – alternate chapters perhaps? I seem to remember Neil Gaiman quipping about his and Terry Pratchett’s process on Good Omens that he did all the consonants and Terry the vowels or something along those lines!
SW: We spent a lot of time talking through the story, first: brainstorming ideas and working out the plot. Then Garth got the ball rolling by writing the first chapter, after which I wrote the rest of the first draft, based mainly on the outline we had worked on together. Garth then took what I had written and rewrote it. We bounced the book backwards and forwards a few times until we were both happy with it, then we sent it on.
GN: We do joke about writing alternate words sometimes, but in fact the process we have developed has worked very well. We followed the same procedure with the second book recently, which we’ve just finished revising.
(Australian cover to Trouble Twisters Book 1)
Mia: Was any part of the book more difficult to write than the rest?
SW: Beginnings are always hard, and endings. And middles too, now I think about it!
GN: Personally I find the middle the most difficult! I like endings, when everything comes together powerfully and there is a tremendous momentum carrying the story forward.
Lucy: Are any of the characters based on people you know? And did you have any problems thinking up all the different characters?
SW: The best way to come up with characters is to watch the people around you. Everyone’s different, and strange, and wonderful. That said, I don’t usually take real people and stick them into the books I’m writing. Just bits of them, like Frankenstein’s monster. I can recognise little mannerisms and tics from family and friends, but no one else would (I hope).
GN: Kleo the cat is based on Sean . . . only joking. No one character is based on any one real person. Like Sean says, we take bits and pieces from lots of different people that we may know, or just have seen or heard, and we piece them together.
Mr B: Further to Lucy’s question – did you base Grandma X on one of your Grandmothers? And obviously there’s much more to her than she’s letting on – is she going to have a major role later in the series?
SW: She looks a little bit like my father’s mother, just as Portland looks a little bit like the town my grandmother used to live in (which was also called Portland) but that’s where the similarity ends.
GN: Again, we’ve taken various characteristics from real people and also just made up other features to create Grandma X. Hopefully she will remind many people of favourite or forbidding grandmothers, in different ways.
Mr B: Can you give us a few clues as to where the next books in the series will take us? Have you got all five plotted out now, or are they just planned out?
SW: We have an outline for the series so we know we’re it’s going, more or less. (There has to be room to muck around in our own story or else it would get a bit dull writing it out.) Without giving too much away, we can tell you that book two sees the twins going to school in Portland, taking a steam train to the next town along from Portland, and getting into all sorts of trouble with cats.
GN: There are always surprises in the writing, even with detailed outlines. There is also a monster in Book #2. Or maybe people only think there’s a monster . . .
Glen: After Troubletwisters – What is the favourite of all the books you’ve written?
SW: A very difficult question to answer! I think they’re all equal favourites. That said, Star Wars came out when I was ten years old, so the ten year-old in me just loves that I get to write books like The Force Unleashed, with Darth Vader, Princess Leia and so on. In terms of pure fun, they would be up there.
GN: My favourite book is always the one I haven’t written yet. This is because when I am imagining a story it is always really, really amazing, but I can never quite capture it in words. That said, I am proud of all my books. I just want to believe I can do even better next time.
(Trouble Twisters US Cover)
Hayden: Who is your favourite author?
SW: I still have a great deal of affection for the authors I grew up readings, whose books have inspired Troubletwisters and all my writing, really. Writers like Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, Terrance Dicks, Ursula K Le Guin . . . I read their books still, years later, so I guess they’re all my favourites.
GN: I have thousands of favourite authors! There are so many good books around, and great new ones being published as well. There is a bit of list of some of my favourites on my website at www.garthnix.com (in the sidebar)
Mr B: And finally can you recommend any other great books to our pupils to look out for if they enjoyed Troubletwisters?
SW: Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising, Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. These are older books, but they are still wonderful!
GN: I definitely agree with Sean, here. Almost anything by Diana Wynne Jones as well, and Joan Aiken.
Mr B: Thank you very much for letting the pupils at Wilberfoss Primary read your book, and thank you very much for agreeing to this email interview.
SW: It’s been a pleasure. I’m glad you enjoyed Troubletwisters.
For more Trouble Twisters information – there are various websites; the official UK Trouble Twisters page (where you can read the first chapter online), an Australian Trouble Twisters page packed with information and extras, including a set of great teaser trailers, which you can also see on You Tube.
Trouble Twisters is available (of course) from the school library. But if you want to purchase a copy (and Year 5 would certainly recommend you do) Sara at Simply Books in Pocklington will be able to help you.
Wilberfoss Primary School Year 5, Mr Bruton, Mr Nevill.