This week we are thrilled to have a guest post from superstar children's authors Katie and Kevin Tsang - what a way to start 2023! We are huge fans of Katie and Kevin's Sam Wu series and the brilliant Dragon Mountain series, which the Parrot Street crew LOVE. Their latest series, Space Blasters, launched last year and is perfect for younger, newly independent readers. It stars Suzie Wen, who loves gadgets and inventing things, and lives on board a space ship exploring new planets and saving the universe - all things kids love! To mark the publication of the second Space Blaster book, Suzie and the Moon Bugs, here are Katie and Kevin to tell us all about the series and which space-tastic reads they recommend you turn to next.
We love writing the SPACE BLASTERS books! Not only do we love coming up with fun adventures for Suzie and the rest of the crew, but we love researching real life space facts to include in the books. We are so lucky to live in a time where there is so much information available to the public about outer space—and reading about space is the next best thing to going into space ourselves!
Kevin has always loved space and wanted to be an astronaut when he was younger, so we absolutely channel some of that when we are writing SPACE BLASTRS. The ship that the crew rides on, TUBS, is based on real life space ships—we looked up diagrams of space ships that really exist, and then we added a few fun fictional elements too.
Not everything in SPACE BLASTERS is based on facts – we also use our imagination to invent new aliens and planets that the crew discover. But even when we are creating a fully fictional planet, and imaginary aliens, we try to ground everything in some sort of reality. For example, in SUZIE AND THE MOON BUGS, the crew encounter Replicator aliens, who can replicate any living creature. We researched chameleons, DNA, and cloning to figure out how our Replicators actually worked!
Suzie also meets the mysterious Knowledge Worms, creatures who have infinite knowledge of everything in the universe! And when she swallows one of their smart pellets, she has infinite knowledge for a short period of time. We loved thinking about what facts Suzie would want to know if she had access to all the knowledge in the universe. She uses the smart pellets to figure out how she can learn from the Replicator aliens and turn herself into a Moon Bug!
Of course, in the real world, humans can’t turn into other creatures. And Moon Bugs aren’t real! But that is the fun of writing science fiction— it is a mix of real facts and pure imagination. Another way we make our imaginary aliens feel more real is to give them attributes from existing animals and creatures. For example, we describe the Moon Bugs as a cross between a ladybird, a bumble bee, and a stag beetle but they function like the cleaner fish of the universe!
SPACE BLASTERS is not our first time wring about space. In our previous series, SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID, we first introduce the show-within-the book (it is Sam’s favorite TV show!) and while Sam Wu never gets sucked into the show and onto the crew like Suzie, he does get to go to Space Camp in SAM WU IS NOT AFRAID OF SPACE! We also did tons of research about real-life space camp to make it as realistic as possible. And while SPACE BLASTERS is science-fiction, SAM WU is entirely based in the real world, so it was important to us to make sure that our depictions of space camp were accurate. Kevin always wanted to go to Space Camp, so writing that book was a bit of wish fufillment for him.
We also both love reading about space! One of Katie’s all-time-favorite books is A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeline L’Engle. It is an intergalactic, interdimensional space adventure but it is also a story about family, both born and made, the importance of friendship, and the power of love. Katie and loved it as a child, and still loves it now! It definitely influences and inspires a lot of our own writing.
Some other fun space set books we both enjoy: the Space Detective series by Mark Powers and illustrated by Dapo Adeola, The Story Shop: Blast Off by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Tony Neal, and the graphic novel, Hilo, The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winnick.
And for anyone who is interested in a unique non-fiction book about space, we would recommend What We See in the Stars by Kelsey Oseid -- a stunningly illustrated introduction to the night sky, and it also includes myths and history of space.
This post includes affiliate links to our bookshop.org 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!