For the Writing for Children section of the #252 15 Mar 2023 issue of Writers’ Forum, I interviewed Colm Feld about his research into the science behind his debut children’s book series, Kyan Green and the Infinity Racers.
He told me the idea of a toy racetrack that rockets you to other worlds, came about when he was playing race cars with his own children. He had two thoughts: how soon could he get out of playing the game without feeling guilty and how mega would it be if…
In the book, the toy racetrack that Kyan discovers is a String Theory Based Multiverse Hopper. Colm revealed, the multiverse aspect came about later on, when Kyan Green was clearly more sci-fi than fantasy because the idea a racetrack would just take you to other worlds because Magic kept bothering him. He explained it took a while to be happy with the multiverse as a cause – it wasn’t everywhere everywhere like now, but it was common enough that he worried the concept was stale.
When he spotted an article about string theory on his news feed, he told me he fell down a rabbit hole in a good way. The multiverses he’d seen in comic book movies etc had always been a plot device, rather than an opportunity to look at the science behind them. Even better, that science is mysterious enough to be magical, but grounded enough to offer some rules, so this meant he couldn’t go off the deep end and come up with lame excuses to get out of difficult plot points. Once he’d gone into the science, it wasn’t too difficult to explain it to children.
“I genuinely think that they’re more well-equipped to handle these kind of abstract concepts than adults. Also, I had an advantage in that my wonder at science is boundless, but my actual understanding is very slow. I get these articles about quantum physics and space (I flipping LOVE space). I read them with a face like George W. Bush. Then I check Bitesize for a explanation that makes sense to me, and after just five or six hours I’ve worked out what it’s all about to a Key Stage Two level.”Colm Feld
With the basic idea in his head, this toy racetrack takes you places, he put the idea away until he’d come up with another story, something more personal, that would be the heart of Kyan Green. Once that core was there, he took the Infinite Race for a spin to other dimensions. He elaborated how there would be a random idea that would pop into his head, and then, while he was writing it up, the world would present its own rules.
For example, the Europa moon the Racers visit has a gigantic underwater ocean. What would the creatures be like that lived there? Would they see, given that they reside in a place with no light? How would they travel then? Why might this dimension’s rapacious Stringer be trying to exploit them? The characters the Infinity Racers encountered were the way they were, because that’s how their world had made them.
“With all these characters I know so well, it is a special privilege to work on Kyan Green as a series, a knockout opportunity to broaden their (and my) horizons. I’ll feel very blessed, right up until I have to remember names and places and… ahhhh, I’m useless at that!”Colm Feld
Colm explained writing Kyan Green as a series also tossed up other challenges – most importantly the need for an overarching conflict, something that gels the stories together. He told me the story personally affects the characters and the main characters in particular are genuinely altered by the challenges they encounter in their first adventure. Colm revealed this made it difficult to reset the clock for their next adventure. They might not fight the same battles, but surely they’ll have to build on what they’ve learned, which in itself is an overarching (if internal) conflict.
Colm’s advice to other writers is to find that bit every day where you’ve nowt to do but write, whether on the bus or on the bog. Oh, and if you’re writing for younger readers, please please please don’t talk down to them – kids are brilliant, and even in those times they’re not, they’re the kind of plonkers you can say owt to and they’ll still pretend they get it anyway.
You can find Colm on Twitter, @colmthewriter but he said he spends more time on Instagram, also @colmthewriter.
To read the complete feature you can purchase a copy of #252 15 Mar 2023 issue of Writers’ Forum by ordering online from Select Magazines.
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