It is with great pleasure I am taking part in the fabulous blog tour for author Emily Kenny and her debut novel The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks, published by Rock the Boat, an imprint of Oneworld Publications.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks is about an autistic girl who finds it difficult to make friends at her new boarding school. She discovers she has switcher powers where she can speak to and change into animals. She uses her new powers to help her solve the mystery of the missing animals.
Q&A session with Emily Kenny
Thanks so much Emily for agreeing to be interviewed as part of the blog tour for your debut novel, The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks. This is the ninth stop of your tour and I am thrilled to be taking part so let’s quickly dive into the first question:
Where did you get the brilliant idea for a girl who could not only talk to animals but can shapeshift into them too?
The idea came from the way in which many Autistic and neurodivergent people have a particular affinity with animals, often finding them much easier to relate to and communicate with than other humans. I just stretched this idea a bit further by having Alice learn to switch.
Tell us a little bit about the themes of friendship and self-acceptance within the book.
There are lots of different friendships in The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks: Alice and the library cat, Alice and the other animals, Alice and Ottie and Tim, and also Alice with key adults like the school chef and the librarian. I wanted to show the tricky, stop-start side of friendship as well as how wonderful a close friendship can be when it is finally achieved.
In terms of self-acceptance, I wanted to show both neurodivergent and neurotypical readers that Alice comes not only to accept but to celebrate her differences. I think that’s something we could all get better at.
How did you go about creating your cast of children and talking animals?
The animals were far, far easier than the children! The animals’ personalities came to me fully-formed, along with their voices, whereas the children needed more refinement. For Tim, I definitely wanted someone quirky but really good-hearted and loyal, whereas with Ottie I tried to keep things a bit more ambiguous, at least to begin with. The bullies who make Alice’s life unpleasant were easier to write as I remembered girls like that from school only too well…
Do you have a favourite place to write?
I like to write anywhere that’s quiet but particularly like snuggling up in bed to let my imagination run wild and get words on the page (or screen!). However, my son, who has just turned one, isn’t a big fan of letting me slip away and write so that’s proving a bit tricky at the moment…
Is there anything else you would like to tell readers about The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks?
The story takes place at a clifftop boarding school outside a little seaside town. I boarded as a teenager and I’ve tried to create a home away from home for my readers too.
What writing advice would you give to people trying to break into the children’s book market?
Write the book you need to write. Don’t worry too much about the market or what is selling for big bucks in The Bookseller. I really believe if you write the story that demands to be told then there will be a reader who needs to hear it.
Thank you Emily for giving us a peek into your writing world and your time and cooperation in taking part in the Q & A session.
You can find out more about Emily Kenny and her books on her website: emilykenny.co.uk, on Twitter @Emilie_London and on Facebook: @EmilyKennyauthor. She’d love to hear from you so please get in touch.
To visit the rest of Emily’s The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks blog tour take a look at the schedule below.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks is available to buy now from your local bookshop, or online at uk.bookshop.org, an organisation with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops.
I would like to thank Anne Cater from Random Things Through My Letterbox for organising this blog tour and inviting me to take part. Thank you.