I am kicking off the blog tour for this incredible debut novel and I couldn’t be more excited to share a Q and A with author Loris Owen. This book has it all- an amazing plotline, puzzles and riddles as well as magic, mystery and mayhem!

Written by Loris Owen, Illustrated by , Published By

I was thrilled when the opportunity arose to pose some questions to Loris Owen about her brilliant debut book! Read on for her amazing answers and insights into her publishing journey and the book!

The Ten Riddles of Eartha Quicksmith is a fantastic new title for middle grade readers and it packs a punch.  Ready to take the world by storm and I wonder how you feel about your book baby heading into the world? 

Thank you for the compliment!

The idea of seeing my book in a real book shop is such a thrill. I think the thing I’m looking forward to most is hearing from people who’ve read it – I can’t wait to find out who their favourite character is, which Strange Energy they like the most, and whether they solved any of the ten riddles. I’m also really, really excited about it being read in schools and libraries.

How have you found the world of publishing as a debut author?

It’s been an amazing journey to get to publication and I have learned bucketloads of new things. Being published with a smaller independent publisher can sometimes mean more agility. We edited and produced the book in just over one year from signing the contract, which is a nail-bitingly short space of time.

People who love books are lovely people in general, and everyone I’ve come across in the industry has been delightful and supportive – agents, editors, illustrators, other authors, teachers, librarians, booksellers. Their enthusiasm often kept me going when I felt I was flagging.

Puzzles form a large part of the plot and keep the reader guessing and surmising the entire way through the story.  Are you a fan of puzzles, and what type of puzzles do you enjoy?

I am a huge fan of puzzles. My dad taught me how to ‘think sideways’ and how to do cryptic crosswords when I was a teenager and I think it grew from there. I’m not always quick at solving a puzzle, sometimes I like to go away and think about it, and sometimes sleep on it – so I might not have been very good for Team Glowflyer when time was running out!

I like all sorts of puzzles as well as crosswords – logic puzzles, optical illusions, escape rooms and point-and-click adventure games – anything that challenges the way I see things and teaches me to think in a different way. Not every puzzle is for me though. I like chess, but I can only just about beat a potato, and I’m hopeless at maths.

Kip is still reeling from an accident with his mum and as readers we are keen to know a bit more…is there more of this story to be shared?

Rose was injured in a lightning strike at the Bramley’s old house on the clifftop by the sea. And ever since then she’s been detached from reality, and doesn’t really remember Kip. Restoring his mum’s health is the most important thing in the world to Kip, so there is much more of this story to be shared in the Quicksmiths series, with lots of twists and turns!

Which leads nicely to…is there anything you can tell us about future adventures with Kip and the Quicksmiths gang?

I’m drafting the second book in the series at the moment, which has the working title ‘Into the Myriads’. Kip and all the familiar characters are in it, as well as one or two new faces. There will be even Stranger Energy, more of Eartha’s secrets and plenty of thrills! Expect more puzzles too, although not as many as in the first book.

I haven’t quite decided how many books there will be in the series yet. At the moment it’s four, but I have so many ideas that it might end up being more. Each book will take Kip and his friends on an adventure to the very edges of reality.

How much scientific research did you do for this book? There is plenty of science intermingled with magic in the form of wormholes and slipstreams.  Not to mention some of the floating travel the kids do.  Perfect for imaginative readers!

I did loads of scientific research – from blogs like Futurism and videos like Kurzgesagt, to more brain-melting stuff like New Scientist. My partner reads a lot of sciencey things and is always bringing me juicy reads. Dark energy was a big topic for me – it accounts for 70% of our universe by current estimates but we don’t really know what it is. That made me wonder what it might look like and sound like and feel like, which led me to Strange Energy.

When creating entirely new forms of energy I had to ask questions like: ‘What does energy do?’ ‘How does it move?’ ‘How do we interact with it?’ I’m not trained in any of the sciences, I’m more of a thinker who is very interested in scientific philosophy and theory. But I believe that anyone who can ask a question, and keep asking a question until it’s fully opened up, is a scientist at heart.

Some of the reviews from Netgalley claim that your world building is superb.  The actual campus of Quicksmith’s College Of Strange Energy is fantastic.  Did you draw your own map during writing to help the plot along?

I did! Once I was on about the vavillionth draft of the book, I sketched out the campus a few times on an A3 sheet of paper. As scenes changed I adjusted my drawing, until I ended up with the final version. This was shared with an excellent illustrator – Jacqueline Maxfield – who did a proper fancy version which you can find at the front of the book.

Do you have a riddle that you can share with us?

As it happens, I do! This riddle is taken from the quicksmiths.com website, where you can find all sorts of downloadable activities and puzzles. Enjoy!

Rows of fangs

We glitter in the light

Our only food is water

And we never bite

Gravity’s our dearest friend

The Sun’s our greatest foe

We point to where we never reach

Crying as we grow

THE TEN RIDDLES OF EARTHA QUICKSMITH by Loris Owen is out now in paperback (£6.99, Firefly Press)

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