Aisha Bushby’s debut, A Pocketful of Stars, is shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award and impressed Books for Keeps. That story was set in the real world but also featured magic, enabling its protagonist to travel back in time and far away. Moonchild returns to the themes of family, love and loss explored there but is set completely in a fantasy world, one of deserts, souks and tropical seas, beautifully and very evocatively described.
Aisha answers our questions on her new book.
Can you sum up Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found for us, and tell us a bit about where the idea came from?
Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found is about an angry girl living in an apathetic world and it highlights, through magic and stories, what happens when we keep our emotions locked inside.
I knew I wanted to write about emotions, but it took me a while to find the right setting and story. In 2017 I visited Boscastle in Cornwall and learned about sea witches that sailed into port there. I knew, then, I had to write a story about sea witches, but I wanted to set it in the Gulf, in the middle east, which has a history of sea faring.
What are your first memories of hearing and sharing stories?
I remember writing my first story (which I printed out and stapled together) about a puppy that goes missing. I guess there are echoes of that in this book!
Stories have lots of different purposes: to make us laugh, escape our lives for a little while, or else put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Each author will know what they want to achieve with their stories. For me, it’s presenting topics that might be difficult to discuss in a way that feels accessible and entertaining for children.
Moonchild draws on the Arabian Nights. What makes those tales so special – do you have a favourite?
I dipped into some of the stories and legends and repurposed them. For me, it was the structure that appealed to me most, and the way stories are used as a currency of sorts. I also loved the way each story informed the next, and how they worked to enrich one another.
Voyage of the Lost and Found is the first in a three book series. What are you enjoying about writing a series, as opposed to stand alone books such as A Pocketful of Stars?
I really love getting to expand on the world, and push it to its furthest potential in terms of setting, plot, and themes. It’s also great to revisit characters now that I know them a little better, putting them into new, challenging situations, and imagining how they would respond.
Moonchild has a very special narrator who speaks directly to the reader at various points in the story. Did you always plan to have that kind of omniscient narrator?
The narrative structure was something I knew I wanted to do from the start, so I could have layers of stories.
Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found is published by Egmont, 978-1405293211, £6.99 pbk