A few weeks ago I noticed that a very famous author was following moontrug on twitter. I wondered whether she’d made a mistake when typing and had really searched for moonpig or Tales on Moon Lane and had ended up typing moontrug by mistake. But when I got in touch with her and she wrote back: ‘Your site is very lovely; I like a nice cloud’ I was full of moontruggish glee. Karen McCombie, author of over 70 books which have sold over a million copies world-wide, is a moontrugger. Boom. Possibly most famous for her brilliant Ally series (detailing Ally’s numerous adventures within her borderline fruitcake family), it is her latest book, The Year of Big Dreams, that I’ve been reading. Click here to buy it on amazon.
Set amidst the hype of a TV talent contest, The Year of Big Dreams sees Flo Brown coping with a newly-famous mum, with girls at school only befriending her because she’s got celebrity status and with a long-lost Dad who barely knows Flo exists. If you’re a fan of Britain’s Got Talent or X-Factor, this is your book. The story is narrated by Flo and right from the very first pages you’re drawn into her teenage world and the vibrant lives of those on Marigold Parade. But the fairy-tale ending that Flo hopes for doesn’t materialise quite as you would expect….
I’m not usually a fan of ‘pink cover’ books but McCombie’s gone and changed my mind. She’s a fab writer for girls wanting stories rooted in the twists and turns of every day life. And to top it all off, she grew up in the wilds of Scotland, where moontrug also had her beginnings. So for more about McCombie and her latest book, check out the interview below:
MOONTRUG: Flo is really engaging character and we get to know her quickly through the first person narration. Is Flo based on anyone you know? Or did the inspiration for her come from something else entirely?
McCOMBIE: Flo isn’t based on anyone I know, though I named her after my friend’s little daughter (I hope baby Flo appreciates that when she’s older!).
MOONTRUG: Which character are you most similar to in ‘The Year of Big Dreams’?
McCOMBIE: I guess all my main characters have a little of me in them – as an author it helps you inhabit the character more easily if you see a little strand of yourself in there. Growing up, my older brothers caused our parents a few sleepless nights, so I set myself up as being The Sensible One. In this novel, Flo is doing something similar, and often feels more grown-up than her mum, Queenie.
MOONTRUG: What aspect of the book did you most enjoy writing?
McCOMBIE: I loved imagining the backwater row of shops in Marigold Parade, with all the varied characters working and living there. They’re a strong and fun community, and I especially liked writing about the mad old ladies who force Flo’s mum to enter the ‘Big Dreams’ TV talent show.
MOONTRUG: If you went on a TV talent competition, which song would you sing?!
McCOMBIE: It would HAVE to be Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’. When I first heard it on ‘Top of the Pops’ a zillion years ago, I thought it was weird and rubbish. The second time I heard it, I decided it was beyond wonderful and that Kate Bush was a goddess. I’m ashamed to say I still know all the moves to the dance routine… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WChywYrwHBY
MOONTRUG: What advice would you give children wanting to write stories/books?
McCOMBIE: Do what I do – get yourself a notebook and a pen in a cool colour (my favourite is purple) and scribble down random thoughts, things people tell you, stuff that happens to you… it’s all great material for your own creative writing.
So on the subject of ‘pink cover’ books, here are two more pinky moontrug must-reads. Threads by Sophia Bennet (winner of the Times Children’s Fiction Competition 2009) is a fashion fairy tale. Nonie’s passion is fashion. Edie plans to save the world. Jenny has a part in a Hollywood movie. But when the three best friends meet a young refugee called Crow, wearing a pair of pink fairy wings and sketching a dress, they get the chance to do something truly wonderful – and make all their dreams come true. Click here to buy it on amazon.
And last but not least, one of moontrug’s favourite ‘pink cover’ books: Matilda by Roald Dahl. Matilda Wormwood’s father is a mean crooked crook. And her mother’s just plain stupid. They think Matilda is a nuisance who should watch more TV and read fewer books. But her lovely teacher Miss Honey thinks Matilda is a genius. Matilda has a few extraordinary tricks up her sleeve, so her horrible parents and even more horrible headmistress, Trunchbull, had better watch out… Click here to buy it on amazon or here to see the award-winning musical theatre adaption.