Good afternoon everyone!
Twice in one day, I hear you say? I know, I know; I spoil you so!
This afternoon, I have the utter joy of being part of the blog tour for The Bewitching of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes. The first book in this series was so incredibly popular with so many people and the second book is sure to thrill everyone too!
I was lucky enough to ask Phil a few questions about his books, his inspiration and even for a recommendation or two! Check out my Q&A below!
Aveline is thrilled when she discovers that the holiday cottage her mum has rented for the summer is beside a stone circle. Thousands of years old, the local villagers refer to the ancient structure as the Witch Stones, and Aveline cannot wait to learn more about them. Then Aveline meets Hazel. Impossibly cool, mysterious yet friendly, Aveline soon falls under Hazel’s spell. In fact, Hazel is quite unlike anyone Aveline has ever met before, but she can’t work out why. Will Aveline discover the truth about Hazel, before it’s too late? The second in a deliciously spine-tingling, spooky series, where mysteries are always solved, spirits are always laid to rest, and everybody gets to bed on time.
Where do you get the inspiration for your stories from?
I think mainly it derives from a lifetime of consuming horror and fantasy books and films. Lurking somewhere in my brain are hundreds of spooky stories that I draw upon both consciously and subconsciously. But the stories often begin with a simple thought: what if you bought a second-hand book and discovered something odd about the previous owner? What would happen if you found a witch bottle in a house you were staying in? And it goes from there.
What made you want to revisit this world?
I feel fortunate to have ended up, half through accident and half through design, with what I think are interesting and hopefully endearing characters. It seemed to me that I could write at least two more stories using these building blocks without it running out of steam. I also found it helpful that I didn’t have to write a linear sequel. I could start from scratch, but with the advantage of having developed characters to work with.
How did you feel being back in a world with these amazing characters?
It does feel a little like walking into a room and seeing familiar and friendly faces. I knew the characters and their motivations much better the second time around. I really enjoy conjuring up new and scary predicaments for them.
What’s been the best thing about being an author?
The sense of achievement is rewarding. You never get over the buzz of seeing your book on a shelf, or reading a positive review, or hearing from a teacher that you’ve helped them entertain a class.
What’s next for you? Can you give us any hints as to your next adventure?
The Vanishing of Aveline Jones is the third and possibly final Aveline adventure. (It makes me a little sad to write that.) It’s long barrows and dark faery lore and, I hope, the scariest of the bunch.
What advice do you have for young, aspiring writers?
Buckle up and prepare for a long journey that’s beset by self-doubt, anxiety, and setbacks. That sounds very pessimistic, doesn’t it? Let me counter that then, by adding that this is just my personal experience. Everyone’s journey will be different. I do believe that if you stick at it, and keep pushing, victory awaits. Have patience, self-belief, and determination.
What have you read recently that you can recommend?
For adults, I’d recommend Water Shall Refuse Them by Lucie McKnight Hardy. For children, The Valley of Lost Secrets by Lesley Parr.
A massive thanks to Phil for taking the time to answer my questions! Having read The Valley of Lost Secrets, I would also recommend it!
Check out The Bewitching of Aveline Jones today! Some of my class are already VERY excited for it!
Remember to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour (details below)