To celebrate the upcoming publication of Emma Carroll’s exciting new book, The Week at World’s End, I’ll be taking a look at Emma’s work, how she researches her novels, and the events that prompted her to start writing. If you love historical MG stories with strong female characters, then read on!
Best friends Stevie and Ray’s boring, predictable life takes an exciting turn when they discover a runaway girl hiding in Stevie’s coal shed. The girl, Anna, needs their help: someone is following her, trying to poison her. As if that’s not dramatic enough, on the news the Americans and Russians are threatening nuclear war. As the threat of war grows, Anna’s behaviour becomes more mysterious. And when Stevie unearths a dark family secret, she wonders if Anna has come to World’s End Close on purpose, with a special message just for her …
The Week at World’s End, out September 2nd 2021, from Faber.
In other exciting news, I learned MacMillan are to publish Emma’s Escape to the River Sea, a sequel to Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea, which was first published in 2001 and went on to win the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Whitbread Award and the Blue Peter Book Award. Escape to the River Sea will be published in hardback in May 2022.
Emma’s books are usually historical, often mysterious and full of strong female characters, earning her the title The Queen of Historical Fiction. Her books include The Girl Who Walked On Air, Strange Star, and In Darkling Wood which ‘came to me whilst I was talking to A level students one day about the Cottingley Fairies’. Two of her books, Letters from the Lighthouse and Secrets of a Sun King, were both chosen as Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month.
Carroll published her debut, Frost Hollow Hall at 43, having worked as a news reporter, an avocado picker and the person who punches holes into filofax paper. A secondary school teacher for just under 20 years, Emma managed to reignite a long-held desire to write through creative writing work with her students, and a serious cancer diagnosis in her early thirties. “It was one of those really life-affirming ‘wake up’ moments. If I’m not going to be around what’s the thing I really want to do? And that thing was writing… Though I loved being an English teacher, it always felt like the safer option. I’d often drive to work with the fantasy of being a writer playing out in my head.’
Emma went on to earn her MA in Writing for Young People and it was this that gave her the confidence to break free into writing, to pursue the career she’d always dreamed of. ‘The course helped me discover if I was actually any good at it. It also helped me take writing seriously, understand that it’s a process, that its hard work and that not all good writers find the success they deserve.’
On the subject of research, Emma likes to immerse herself in the story world. ‘I read a lot, make Pinterest boards, and create a ‘world’, much like a fantasy writer would. Everyday details like clothes, food, transport, routines, phrases people used help with that. I’m also drawn to the little nuggets of story that history often gives you, the things that are intriguing or funny.’ Emma says she, ‘enjoys writing awkward conversations because that’s often when my characters behave in ways I can’t predict.’