What inspired you to write The Last Wild?
I was inspired to write The Last Wild by the shocking discovery that Earth has lost over 60% of its wildlife in the last 40+ years. What will happen in the next 40 years. Will there be any animals left, and if not, what are we going to do about it? What are YOU going to do about it?
Who is your favourite character in “The Last Wild” series ?
Well, naturally, I am fond of all the characters in The Last Wild series – even the baddies! – but in particular it was so much fun to write the White Pigeon, as I often get my words in a muddle too. And I also really love Wolf Cub, as he is so brave, and the General, even though he is rather bossy.
Will there be another book in “The Last Wild” series?
“The Wild Beyond”, the third book in the series, is the conclusion of Kester, Polly, Aida and all their animal friends’ adventures as I see it for now. I firmly believe that those left at the end of that story have very exciting futures ahead of them! But never say never. There might be exciting news soon, watch this space…
Where does the name Kester come from?
I had a friend at school called Kester, and it always struck me as an unusual name. My agent suggested that the hero of the Last Wild needed a special name as he was so different, and Kester came to mind! I don’t know if my friend could ever talk to animals, though!
Where do you get your ideas from?
All the ideas for my books come from this website
You have to log on to access them.
The user name is: look-up
Is it lonely being a writer?
It can be, sometimes, spending hours by yourself, staring at a screen, with only the voices in your head for company….But sometimes you need to be alone to hear those voices, characters and ideas clearly.
The great thing about being a children’s writer is that we are often invited into schools and libraries to meet our readers, so we are never alone for too long!
Are you going to write more books?
Definitely! I think I might be in trouble with my publisher or my bank manager if I don’t…
The next book in The Lost Magician series will be out in September 2019.
Do you read to relax?
Absolutely. I always read in bed at night before going to sleep, when I am travelling and on holiday and on rainy days. I also read a lot for work – research, books by friends and colleagues – but sometimes when I am writing I stick to non-fiction so I don’t get too influenced by someone else’s fiction style.
How long did it take you to write your first book?
When I started writing my first book, The Last Wild, I not only had a full time job but had never written a book before. I had to write it early in the morning before going to work, in the evenings, at weekends, and on holidays.
I made lots of mistakes, and kept changing things, and in the end it took me 4 years to write it and 17 drafts!
Now I am lucky enough to write full time, I always plan a book in advance and it usually takes a year to write.
Do you have a special room where you write your stories?
Yes. I have written stories in the British Library, in cafes, on trains and in hotel rooms, but my favourite place is my study at home.
It has a view of the garden, and a cushion for our dog Huxley to lie on and keep me company while I stare into space. As well as lots of my favourite children’s books and lovely things readers and schools have given me, to inspire me on, including a rather burgeoning teddy bear collection!
What did you want to do before you became a writer?
I wanted to be so many things when I was growing up – an actor, a comedian, a movie director – they all involved making stuff up and doing a lot of showing off. And I have worked in theatre, film and TV, and enjoyed all hugely.
But it wasn’t till I was in my mid-thirties that I found the confidence to confront a blank sheet of paper, and start writing. Then I realised that was what I had always wanted to do.
When you write, how long do you write for each day?
When I write a book, I try and sit down to write a bit every day. At the least, for half an hour, and at the most, four hours a day.
What is your favourite book of the ones you have written?
It changes all the time! But right now, like it usually is, it’s my latest one…The Lost Magician, which is out in August 2018.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?
My advice for anyone wanting to write a book is to write a little and often, to build up your skill and stamina, and to plan carefully but not too rigidly. The more you write, the better you get, and the more you write, the more of a book you have…
Which of your books should I read first?
Entirely up to you, but as The Last Wild is my first book, and the first book in a series, that might be a good place to begin.
Do you visit schools?
Yes, although not while the schools are currently closed. If you would like me to visit your school in the future, please ask your teacher, school librarian or a parent/carer to email
How many books have you written?
I have written five full length novels for children: The Last Wild trilogy (comprising of The Last Wild, The Dark Wild and The Wild Beyond), the ‘standalone’ There May Be A Castle, and the first book in a new series, The Lost Magician. (I am currently hard at work on the second!)
I completed the final third of my late father Paul Torday’s final book, The Death of an Owl.
And I have two short stories published, ‘The Wishing Book’ in Winter Magic, and ‘How the Monkey Defeats the Crocodile’ in A Wisp of Wisdom…
You can read about how I made the map for The Last Wild in The Writer’s Map.
So I make that 5 and a half books in total!
Who does your illustrations?
The striking covers and chapter headers for The Last Wild trilogy were all designed by Nichola Theobald, and illustrated by the award winning and hugely talented Thomas Flintham. I drew the rough maps myself, and then Tom turned them into the gorgeous ones printed in the books. You can find out more about Tom’s own books on his website.
Tom also drew the stunning hardback cover for Winter Magic, and the equally stunning paperback cover was by Melissa Castrillón.
The beautiful cover and headers for There May Be A Castle were also designed by Nichola Theobald, but illustrated by another award winning illustrator – the brilliant Rob Biddulph. You can find out more about Rob and his books at his website.
The cover and illustrations for Wisp of Wisdom are by Emmie van Biervliet.
Ben Mantle drew the fabulous cover and interior artwork for The Lost Magician, designed by Samuel Perret at Hachette Children’s.
How long does it take to write a book?
Every writer and every book is different, and there is no right or wrong length of time – each book takes as long as it takes.
For me, my first book – The Last Wild – was the hardest and longest, as I had never written a book before, and was juggling writing with a full time job. I made many mistakes, wrote 17 drafts, and took four years to write it!
But as I learn more with each book, and have the privilege to write full time, it normally takes me a year to write a book, from idea to seeing it in the shops.
What is your favourite book?
I have many favourite books, but here are a few:
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
Little Grey Men by B.B.
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann
Half Magic by Edward Eager
Moonfleet by John Meade Faulkner
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Tintin by Hergé
One Boy and His Dog by Eva Ibbotson
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner
The Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
The Box of Delights by John Masefield
The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness
Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
The Northern Lights series by Phillip Pullman
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
A Traveller in Time by Allison Uttley
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
Who is your favourite author?
There are so many wonderful authors that it is difficult to choose, but when I was growing up, I loved books by:
J. R. R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, Ian Serraillier, John Masefield, Susan Cooper and Eva Ibbotson, amongst many others.
Contemporary children’s authors who inspire me include:
J. K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, Kate Saunders, Neil Gaiman and Patrick Ness.
Who inspired you to start writing?
I was inspired by many things, but it was when my father Paul Torday turned to writing fiction aged 59, after a lifetime in business – with his first book Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – that I decided to get my act together and booked myself onto an Arvon writing course.
Can I read your books aloud online?
If you are a teacher, you may read aloud individual chapters at a time, that are not recorded, via a closed virtual learning environment for pupils only. Please don’t read whole books aloud in one session or record any of your readings. Thank you!
During the school closure I am going to be reading out all of my books, chapter by chapter, every weekday on Instagram Live at 2.30pm GMT. If you miss the live reading, you can always catch up later on Instagram TV or my YouTube channel.
Do you visit schools?
School visits are currently suspended during the lockdown and schools closure. For more information on how to arrange a future visit (or rearrange an existing one) the sessions I offer, and fees, please contact:
How much do you charge for a school visit?
Please contact Victoria Rontaler at Rontaler PR & Events with your pitch for an event and she will quote you a fee.
All my fees are exclusive of travel and accommodation / subsistence where applicable.
What is your availability like?
I have no availability till the schools reopen and author visits are deemed safe under government guidance.
Online and virtual visits can be arranged in the meantime.
For physical school visits, I need a minimum of two months notice, and ideally six. However, sometimes there are cancellations and last minute changes, so it is always worth checking!
With World Book Day/week visits, it is advisable to book a year in advance.
But for my latest information, please check with Victoria Rontaler at Rontaler PR & Events
What year groups do you work with?
My school event talk works for all primary school ages from Reception to Year 8, but my target age group is Years 4 – 6.
I regret that my event is not suitable for secondary schools.
Where can I find classroom resources for your books?
There are some excellent free classroom resources for “The Last Wild” provided by Sustainable Learning
I will be putting up more here for all books very shortly, watch this space.
Teachers could sign up to CLPE’s excellent Power of Reading scheme and get a whole teaching sequence based on “The Last Wild”.
Do you visit schools outside the UK?
All school visits are suspended during the schools closure but when non essential international travel is permissible again, I do visit international schools, from China to Germany and beyond.
Sometimes this is easier and more affordable when arranged with other local schools in your country.
Virtual and Skype/Zoom visits also available.
For details, please contact Victoria Rontaler at Rontaler Events – firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I get posters and display material for your books?
Please contact Emily Thomas at my publishers, Quercus Children’s Books, and she will do what she can to help, but supplies of promotional material is often very limited!
How many sessions will you do in a day?
I will visit your school for an hour’s talk , time depending on travel, plus a signing.
Do you have a maximum or minimum audience size for your events?
I prefer to speak to the whole school in Assembly or similar, with no maximum numbers – the more the merrier!
The minimum number of students I will talk to is 100.
How do I arrange book sales for a school visit?
Ideally through your local independent bookshop, so the pupils gets to know them, or through a local Waterstones. If that is not possible or not your preferred choice, Victoria Rontaler at Rontaler PR & Events can arrange sales on a sale or return basis through my preferred supplier, Pickled Pepper Books.
All you need to provide is a cash float and staff assistance on the day. The books will be delivered and unsold ones collected automatically, and the school will be invoiced for those sold.
Please note that I do not hold stock of my own books, and I never sell them myself.
What are your technical requirements?
All my talks use Keynote presentations with video and sound, best played off my own MacBook Air for ideal results.
I travel with all the relevant cables and adapters, but will require access to a screen (or smart board), projector and speakers.
For my creative writing workshop, I also require a flipchart, marker pens and blu tack.