Bex Hogan on Bronte Tempestra and the Lightning Steeds and fantasy books for kids

Bronte Tempestra and the Lightning Steeds by Bex Hogan. Book cover and author photo.
We are thrilled this month to be sharing an action-packed fantasy adventure with our Parakeet subscribers. Author Bex Hogan has packed so much into this book: epic world-building, an inspiring heroine, dramatic plotlines, plus environmental and social issues young readers will find instantly relatable. Not only that but it's fun and accessible, and beautifully illustrated throughout by Hannah McCaffery. It's ideal for newly independent readers, or for reading together as a family, and we're excited to see where the series heads next. Here Bex tells us more about what inspired the book and which other fantasy books for younger readers she recommends you read next.

What inspired you to write Bronte Tempestra and the Lightning Steeds?

The original idea came from someone making an off-hand comment in a conversation about going to night school. And all I heard was ‘knight school’! I knew immediately that I needed to write a story set there. I’ve always loved the medieval period of history, and all the legends set around that time. So I wanted to create something familiar, but different, and as a girl who grew up frustrated that the women in the stories I loved only existed to be rescued by the men, I wanted to rectify that. I also went to a secondary school which had been an all-boys school until only a few years before, and it was fascinating watching the dynamics shift when it opened to girls too, and the reluctance for change. So that was something I wanted to explore in a totally different setting.

We love Bronte, she’s a great lead character! What do you think is the most important lesson she learns?

That’s such a good question. I think she learns a lot about believing in herself. Outwardly she often seems very confident and determined, but inside she doubts whether she has what it takes to be a brave and honourable knight. The thing is, we often have a certain idea about what it means to be brave. It isn’t, as Bronte sometimes thinks, always about running into danger headfirst. It can be small moments, like doing the right thing even when it isn’t comfortable. Or standing by your friend when you’re scared. Bronte learns to embrace the strength of who she is and not what she thinks she should be.

Which character did you most enjoy writing and why?

Honestly, I loved writing all of them, but Lord Errol was a lot of fun to write. His tendency to go on a bit, and in a very pompous manner, meant I would chuckle away to myself writing him. Likewise, Sir Roland Ripple, who is so vain and egotistical. Writing outrageous characters who behave in very flamboyant ways is always a treat.

Can you tell us anything about what will happen next to Bronte and Tonkins?

Yes! Book two is called Bronte Tempestra and the Ice Warriors, and it is set at the end of Bronte’s first term, during their winter festivities. You can expect the return of familiar faces, plus the arrival of some fun new characters, one of whom puts a strain on Bronte and Tonkins’s friendship. And as the title suggests, the pair may be up against some frosty foes as another quest presents itself.

Why did you choose to write books for this age group?

I think this is the age where a lot of children really fall in love with books for the first time, and there’s nothing more magical than being part of that journey. When I began writing Bronte Tempestra and the Lightning Steeds, my daughter was eight and very much at an age where she was discovering new stories, all of which were a joy to read with her. The idea for the book really leant itself to this age group, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to embrace the silliness and laugh while I worked.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

My favourite place is my study, as I’m surrounded by my books and have a comfortable chair! I like to look out of the window and watch the world pass by while I brainstorm. But I am happy to write anywhere – there’s something very indulgent about being tucked under a blanket on the sofa while I work too!

Which other fantasy books for younger readers would you recommend our subscribers read next?

There are so many fantastic books out there at the moment. A few of my recent favourites have been Yomi and the Fury of the Ninki Nanka by Davina Tijani and illustrated by Adam Douglas-Badley, Marnie Midnight and the Moon Mystery by Laura Ellen Anderson, Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day by Dominique Valente and illustrated by Sarah Warburton, and Monster Hunting for Beginners by Ian Mark and illustrated by Louis Ghibault. But head down to your local library and explore the shelves, there are so many amazing options!

What type of weather do you like best and why?

It very much depends where I am! Outside, I love a bright spring day, with sunshine that’s not too warm and a gentle breeze. But if I’m safely inside, I love a good storm! When the rain lashes down, the sky illuminates with lightning before the ground shakes with thunder – you can’t beat that for drama!

Copies of our Bronte Tempestra and the Lightning Steeds pack, including a copy of the book and loads of fun activities to go with it, are now available for individual purchase. Grab a copy while stocks last!

This post includes affiliate links to our page, meaning we receive a small percentage of the sale should you purchase through them. Additionally, a percentage from all sales on the platform goes directly to local UK bookshops which is an initiative we're delighted to support!



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