Good afternoon everyone!
I hope you’re all doing well!
I’m here with a very exciting Q&A with one of my favourite authors as part of the FCBG Children’s Book Award blog tour!
Ross Montgomery’s Midnight Guardians is up for the award for older readers and let me tell you it is amazing! I utterly adored it! I had the chance to ask Ross some prying questions as part of this blog tour and what was shared made me VERY HAPPY.
Check it out below!
What is your writing process like?
Ideas always begin as a few different seeds for me: two or three different topics growing at the same time, that sort of become intrinsically entangled. For MIDNIGHT GUARDIANS, it was thinking about imaginary friends and being fascinated by the Blitz! Months of mulling over and note-taking then becomes a synopsis, which then becomes a first draft. If it’s new writing, I can only manage a couple of hours a day – always in the morning when I basically have coffee for blood. When it’s edits, I can do anywhere from four hours a day to twelve hours a day!
How was writing Midnight Guardians different to writing your other books?
I’d never done a book that was set in the “real world” before, let alone a real period of history – and that’s before we get into the fact that the story takes place across highly specific dates! I’d never had to do *proper* research before – it was really daunting, and I had to learn how to do it! I discovered that it was alternately really exhausting and incredibly rewarding: for everything that I learned I couldn’t do, I discovered something unexpected that made the story come to life.
Do you have a favourite character you wrote in Midnight Guardians?
Unusually for me, the three Guardians came to me fully-formed – they were the first things I wrote down in my notes, and even their names stayed the same. That never happens – normally my first ideas are cut or barely recognisable by the end. As a result, I’ve never gotten over Mr Noakes – something about a badger in a waistcoat is just immediately delightful to me, and readers seem to really respond to it too. I always say that he’s done a lot of heavy lifting for me!
Was there anything you had to edit out of Midnight Guardians that you wish could’ve stayed?
There were lots of things, but for me the saddest was Starfish Sites. I found out that in order to confuse German bombers, they built entire fake towns and cities about ten miles away from real towns and cities – just metal frame houses, but some even had fake windows with curtains and light bulbs inside and everything. Then, when there was a raid, they’d set them on fire – planes would see houses on fire, assume that their radars were scrambled and that they must already be over the bombing site, and drop their bombs on a fake town in a field rather than on, say, Bristol. This was ABSOLUTE GOLD – an incredible war fact that hardly anyone, outside of historians, seems to know about. I knew, deep in my heart of hearts, that a scene set in an entire fake town belonged in this book, but I simply couldn’t make it fit.
What do you want children to take away from the story?
At the heart of the book is something that my friend’s dad once said to me: in life, things were never actually as good as you remember them being, but they’re also never as bad as you fear. Life can sometimes seem incredibly frightening – like there’s no possible way out. But the moment that things are at their very worst, the solution has already been set in motion.
Would you write a sequel?
I’m terrible with sequels!! I just don’t know how I could possibly make it work. For me, a book is always a single complete thing, tied up with a bow by the very last sentence!
Can you tell us about what is next in store for you?
I got through the pandemic by basically saying “yes” to everything that came my way, which means I’m writing like the clappers. I’m two drafts into my next MG book – THE STONE CALLERS, due in June 2023. Think secret wizards and Arthurian legends! I’m about to start work on the MG book after that, which is top secret, shhh. And I’m doing a number of picture books as well: another one with Sarah Warburton following on from TEN DELICIOUS TEACHERS, and a few more serious ones too.
Recommend a book!
There are so many!! But I’m currently reading a fantastic debut – AJAY AND THE MUMBAI SUN by Varsha Sha – which is absolutely spot on. A perfect long chapter book for Years 3&4!
It’s my absolute honour to host this content! Make sure you check out the rest of the stops on the amazing blog tour!