I adored The House on Hoarder Hill and was part of that blog tour as well. These books are ones that have stuck with me and I cannot recommend them highly enough. With plenty of magic, mystery and intrigue, not to mention amazing characters and magical creations! Doug and Stan are my firm favourites!
Read on for Mikki Lish and Kelly Ngai’s inspirations behind some of the magical items from their stories. The House on Hoarder Hill and The Magician’s Map are both published now and ready to be read!
Our Favourite Magical Creations by Mikki Lish and Kelly Ngai
Many writers are asked, where did you get the idea for that? Read on for behind-the-scenes intel on some of our favourite magical creations and how they came about!
Doug and Stan
As children, we imagined stuffed animals were alive and trusted confidantes, so that’s what we wanted for Hedy and Spencer. What stuffed animals would be plausible in an old, spooky manor house? Mikki’s brother, Gint, suggested a talking stag head, which felt right, and a bear rug seemed like a great match. We could imagine that competitive magicians in the past might have enchanted them to spy on other magicians (or non-magicians) to steal secrets.
Doug is named for Kelly’s brother, Douglas, who introduced Mikki and Kelly, and whose nickname was ‘Bear’ as a little boy. Waldorf and Statler from the Muppets were the inspiration for their grumpy old man bickering.
The Woodspies are a melding of ideas from both of us. Mikki saw some striking wallpaper patterned with eyes in a hotel in LA, but she felt it was too obvious to have a set of eyes spying on the kids. When Kelly had been breastfeeding her eldest son as a baby, she’d spent hours staring at the floor noticed that the knots in the wooden floorboards looked like eyes. The two ideas clicked to become enchanted creatures that could travel through anything wood and could help navigate the maze of the house. We’d love it if readers were inspired to look around their own homes and imagine magical backstories for the things around them. The Woodspies are an example of us doing that ourselves.
Grandpa John’s magic box, the Kaleidos
Grandpa John’s glittering magic box was an exercise in working backwards from what our story needed: a magic box into which things disappeared. John’s had to be extraordinary, however, and also something that someone could subtly sabotage. Mikki sometimes jokes she’s a magpie who gets distracted by shiny things, so had suggested a mirrored box. Kelly was looking through her son’s kaleidoscope one day and the spinning, mirrored shapes inside seemed to speak to Mikki’s suggestion.
‘Kaleidos’ comes from the Greek: kalos meaning ‘beautiful’, and eidos meaning ‘shape’. So John’s magic box became one composed of many small glittering cubes, kaleidoscopic in effect, that could be reshaped for a dazzling stage show.
Some new creations in The Magician’s Map
We have a magical blanket fort, inspired by Kelly’s sons building forts at home. There are blabbermouth cockatoos that we repurposed from a movie script we had written together (in that script, Chit and Chat were fast talking fish). A giant’s massive boot of rock was sparked by a rock formation at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Cheetah spots that can make you run as fast as a cheetah are wish fulfilment – who wouldn’t love to be able to run at 130 kilometres per hour! And lastly, we blended a classic stage magic trick with real magic to come up with the Whisker Wish, but you’ll have to read ‘The Magician’s Map’ to find out just what it can do!
The link to my stop on The House on Hoarder Hill Blog Tour, exactly one year and one day ago!
THE MAGICIAN’S MAP: A Hoarder Hill Adventure by Mikki Lish and Kelly Ngai out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)
I’m really looking forward to reading this one. Loved reading all the inspiration behind the objects. I’m not at all surprised Doug and Stan were based a bit on the grumpy old muppet as that’s exactly who they reminded me of when I read them!
They are the best characters….I love their banter!
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Me too! They’re brilliant, such a great double act.