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Kenneth Oppel on Ghostlight and fantasy books for tweens and early teens

Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel. Book cover and author photo.

Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel was a super easy pick for our Macaw boxes. It's the perfect read for tweens and early teens, combining a supernatural thriller with relatable contemporary characters, a bit of history and a hugely atmospheric setting. Publishers Weekly described it as 'Ghostbusters meets Stranger Things', which sound just about right to us! It's also got one of the most stunning covers we've seen in a long time. We asked author Kenneth Oppel to tell us more about what inspired the book and which fantasy books for tweens and teens he recommends you read next.

What inspired you to write Ghostlight?

I love the Toronto Islands, and had been wanting to set a story there for a while – it’s like a seaside town in the harbour of huge city: there’s an amusement park, marinas, beaches, a little cafe and tiny neighbourhoods – and there’s a 200 year old lighthouse that comes with its own ghost story. I chucked out that ghost story and created one of my own – and came up with a character who gives ghost tours as a summer job.

Are any of the characters or elements of the story based on real people or events (historical or otherwise)?

Well, the lighthouse is real, as are all of the Toronto settings – which makes a great treasure hunt for my heroes as they go from one place to the next searching for the ghostlight. Some famous historical figures are minor characters, like William Ward and George Brown, both of whom turn up as helpful ghosts; others just get a mention (General Brock, General Wolfe). The main characters are all invented!

What do you hope young readers will take away from the story and how it unfolds?

I don’t tend to think that way about my stories. My only hope is to tell an enthralling story that will take my readers somewhere new.

Do you believe in ghosts?

No.

Can you tell us anything about what the future holds for Gabe and his friends?

Ah! I see many more ghostbusting adventures in their future. Whether I will write them is another question!

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

I loved my favourite books so much when I was younger; and I started writing when I was a teenager, so I felt in tune with what was interesting to that age group – and that’s never stopped. Although, I should say, when I write, I’m telling a story that I hope will be genuinely interesting to readers of any age.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

The train!

Which other fantasy books for this age group would you recommend our subscribers read next?

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve, Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, Skellig by David Almond, The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean, Awake and Dreaming by Kit Pearson), and Ocean at the End of the Lane  by Neil Gaiman.

Copies of our Ghostlight 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!

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