The book we've picked for our Cockatoo subscribers this month is an inclusive maritime adventure that combines mystery, fantasy and friendship, all the ingredients of a future classic. We love every one of the diverse cast of characters and the atmospheric seaside setting. Debut author Lisette Auton is one to watch! Here she tells us all about what inspired the book and which diverse books for kids she recommends you read next.
What inspired you to write The Secret of Haven Point?
I love the seaside, I adore lighthouses, and I wanted to write the book I wished I'd had to read, with not just one, or none, but loads of disabled kids having an epic adventure.
Are any of the characters or locations inspired by real people or places?
None of the characters were inspired by real people, though now that I read it back I see lots of traits and things taken from my family and friends, but I daren't say who or what they are! The place exists, I just squished some things around and gave them new names. The inside of the lighthouse is based on St. Mary's at Whitley Bay and the outside on Souter PoInt at South Shields. There was once a village around Souter Point and I was inspired by that - who would live there? The beach below has caves and rock formations, like Marsden Rock, just like in the book. I can't write a book until I know the setting, that's the most important piece of the jigsaw puzzle for me.
What research did you do for the book and did you learn anything that surprised you?
One of my favourite things to research, though I didn't use all of them (that's the thing about research, you need to know quite a lot, but your readers don't need to know ALL OF IT!) was knots. I loved finding out the different names of them, trying to do them, and their different uses. Who knew there were so many!
Is there a particular message you would like readers to take away from the book?
I think the major message to take away is one of kindness and access; how the world can sometimes be hard to navigate as a disabled person, but if those obstacles are taken out of the way then adventures are available to everyone. We might just do them in different sorts of ways and need some help, but they will be awesome.
Can you tell us anything about what the future holds for Alpha and her friends?
The book ends on a new beginning. I know what happens in this world before the book begins, and afterwards, I have notebooks full of ideas and timelines. One day I might write those adventures. For now, my next book is called The Stickleback Catchers which is a brand new adventure with brand new characters, but if you read that very closely you might find a few references to Haven Point and get a glimpse of what two of the characters are up to!
Do you have a favourite place to write?
My favourite place to write is in my studio. It's on the ring road of the town centre I live in, and I love watching the cars go past. I find the noise comforting too, it's a bit like waves. I have a big wall where I stick up images, scraps of writing, and start linking it all together to create stories, a bit like being a detective. It also has an exceedingly comfy chair that is excellent for naps. My walk to my studio was the inspiration for The Stickleback Catchers - I told you it was all about place!
Why did you choose to write books for this age group?
Books for this age group are my favourite ones to read. So it just seemed to pop out of me that these were the ones that I would write. Adults are odd: even if they don't like a book, quite often they'll keep on reading. My readers in this age group just stop if it's rubbish! That makes me try even harder to write the best I possibly can. It also means my book tours take place in schools, which is far more exciting. Young people ask the best questions and have the best ideas.
Which other books starring a diverse cast of characters would you recommend our subscribers read next?
Copies of our The Secret of Haven Point 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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