Tweens Read August Day 4: Claire Fayers & The Voyage to Magical North

Tweens Read August is a 14 day event taking place for the first two weeks of August. I’ll be hosting authors, regardless of debut year, whose books I’m the most excited for. Each day, I’ll announce who the next author is at the end of the post. There’s also a giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!

It’s the fourth day of Tweens Read August, and for today, I interviewed Claire Fayers on what sounds like the most epic fantasy read of the year: The Voyage to Magical North.

Here’s a little bit about it:

the voyage to magical north by claire fayers

Release Date: July 5th, 2016

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Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past–if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she’s spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter.

When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship theOnion. Before you can say “pieces of eight,” they’re up to their necks in the pirates’ quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don’t even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she may find out who her parents are. And if she’s unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.

Description taken from Goodreads.



What’s so great about Magical North?

According to the great scientist Aldebran Boswell, who know about these things, magic flows in a northerly direction and there are three north poles – geographical north, magnetic north and magical north. Magical north represents the greatest concentration of magic ever and because magic has flowed in from all over the world, anyone who stands at magical north can see the whole world.

The whole area is also supposed to be covered in treasure, though this has never been confirmed.

How do you get inspired for your story ideas?

I generally come up with some vague concept first, and then add in characters. In the case of Voyage to Magical North, I wanted to write something fun with sea monsters and magic. Brine and her quest to find out who she is came last, and it seems so obvious now I can’t believe I didn’t think of it straight away.

If I get stuck for ideas, I’ll go away and do something else for a while. My family can always tell when I’ve been working on ideas because the house is full of freshly-baked cake.

What was the hardest part of debut year?

Starting work on the second book! Switching between a very polished first book and a completely new draft made me horribly aware of how bad my writing is at the outset. But then the story started to come together and it didn’t seem so bad after all.

But really, I’ve loved every minute of the past year. I’ve given up work and I’m writing full time, something I’ve always dreamed of, and the children’s book world is such a wonderful, friendly place. I wouldn’t swap it for anything.

What kind of research did you do for Voyage to Magical North?
Not that much, to be honest. I went around a couple of old ships, and I did a ‘walk with the fish’ experience at SeaLife. Apart from that ‘research’ was working out how the various details of the fantasy world fit together. How magic worked, for example, and how long the Onion would take to sail between islands.
What do you love most about your main characters?
I love the way they reverse expectations – my own expectations as well. It’s a bit of a cliché that authors are surprised by their characters, but I was. Brine’s the one who really drives the story. Peter spends the first part of the book following her around complaining that she’s going to get them into trouble. And then he tries to carve out a place for himself on board the pirate ship, and it doesn’t entirely go well.
Did you find any aspect of creating the world of Voyage to the Magical North difficult?
Spellcasting was a challenge. I didn’t really think about how magic worked until my editor asked for details and I came up with spellshapes. And the geography takes a bit of work to keep straight. There are eight oceans, only one ocean is really a pair of seas, and then I have to remember where all the islands are and how long it takes to get from one to another. I’ve drawn myself a map, but I still keep forgetting where things are.
Is there anything you want readers to know before reading Voyage to Magical North?

We all have stories to tell. Some are quieter than others, but they’re no less important. And, when we start listening to one another’s stories, that’s when friendships begin.

Also, I know penguins don’t live at the north pole in the real world, but I love penguins so I put them in anyway.

What’s one item on your bookish bucket list?
I’d love to go for a trip on a real sailing ship before book 2 comes out. It’d have to be a short trip though as I have a tendency to get seasick. While I’m sitting on deck enjoying the sun, I will catch up on my reading of all the great debut books out this year.
Do you have any advice for authors trying to write middle-grade fiction?
Think back to what you were like at that age and capture that voice. Then be very clear about what your main characters want and what is stopping them from getting it. That’s the main conflict of your book. Finally, write what excites you – find the story that you alone can tell.
What’s one of the best middle-grade novels you’ve read this year?
Only one? I’ve read so many terrific books this year. But, if you liked Voyage to Magical North, you will love SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB by Patrick Samphire. It’s like a combination of Jules Verne and Jane Austen and it’s set on Mars, with dinosaurs.

About the Author

claire fayers

Claire Fayers lives in South Wales with her husband and as many cats as she can get away with.  She used to work in a science library, but now writes full-time, which is the best job ever.  She likes skiing, kite-flying, playing the cello and dinosaurs.


Thanks to Claire for taking part in Tweens Read August! I loved her responses, and I’ll definitely have to check out Secrets of the Dragon Tomb. You can add it to Goodreads here, and while you’re there, be sure to add The Voyage to Magical North as well. The author being featured tomorrow is Lee Gjertson Malone!


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