Having read the first title in the Hoarder Hill series and loved it, I was delighted to be sent the next instalment to enjoy. The twins are back at Hoarder Hill and they’ve caught wind of Fantastikhana – an underground magical tournament! Make sure you also read authors Mikki and Kelly’s piece about the trials and tribulations of writing that tricky second book…
‘Exploring the mysterious tunnels under their grandfather’s house on Hoarder Hill, Hedy and Spencer discover the Fantastikhana, an underground tournament of magic. Here they find a group of powerful magicians called the Sleight and a mysterious living map, which tattoos itself onto Hedy’s skin and seems to be directing her further underground. And so an extraordinary treasure hunt begins …’
It was such great fun revisiting Hoarder Hill and its inhabitants (magical and not) with the twins. This time round they are embracing the magical objects and characters which have made their Grandad’s rather magical house their own. I was particularly pleased with the reappearance of comedy double act, Doug (the talking bear rug) and Stan (the stuffed stag head.) The pair add a such a sense of lightness and fun to proceedings!
The Fantastikana was every bit as magically intoxicating as I had hoped – with dark, hidden corners, wonderful spectacles to behold and delicious ice creams to enjoy. I really getting a peek behind the scenes of the magical world hidden beneath the streets.
The premise of a living map which can tattoo itself onto your skin is just genius. And I won’t spoil what happens next, but the treasure hunt which follows leads readers even deeper into the most magical places of the world – with both Hedy and Spencer facing their own challenges. You’re going to want to be a part of it!
Now it’s time to hear from the story’s authors about what it was like having to write the second instalment their wonderful series:
Planning and Penning The Magician’s Map – a special piece from authors Mikki Lish & Kelly Ngai.
What a glorious problem it is to write a second book! The blank page remains stubbornly blank for far too long; every possibility in the world waves at you; and what on earth should it be called? Here’s what we loved and loathed about writing The Magician’s Map, our sequel to The House on Hoarder Hill.
Loathed: The C-words
With Mikki living in America and Kelly in Australia, we haven’t been on the same continent since 2018! Our plans to meet up in 2020 were scuppered by COVID-19, and closed borders also meant that we couldn’t research locations that appear in The Magician’s Map. That, however, is at the bottom of the list of the world’s pandemic-related problems.
Thankfully, we had our health, we’re used to writing apart and we had internet access. To every tourist and travel writer who has published pictures, footage and words about of some of the extraordinary places we took our characters to: thank youfor helping us travel virtually!
The other C-word giving us stink-eye was calendar. We had a much tighter timeframe in which to write the second book; fortunately, we also had a much better understanding of the process. Everything from the density of the language and word count to the number of characters and length of chapters was closer to its final form that the first book. We planned and plotted until we felt our route to the climactic end was mapped out. Of course, we deviated from the plan – a lot. Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Sometimes we were the ones punching ourselves in the mouth, but fixing those problems is the job of a writer. How satisfying it is to outsmart yourself – that’s when you feel like a muse is helping you.
There were far more things to love
We dove with huge delight into new places for our characters to visit. Mikki diligently keeps a Pinterest inspiration board filled with images to spark ideas in us. Places that made us want to imagine magical back stories and which made it into the book include the Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean, the Isle of Skye, Fingal’s Cave and the Giant’s Causeway.
In The Magician’s Map, younger brother Spencer is forced to step out from Hedy’s shadow and face some challenges of his own. That meant that we had to split the narrative between Hedy and Spencer which was a fun experiment for us and hopefully a change that readers will enjoy.
And of course, we had the pleasure of dreaming up new characters. We won’t spoil readers’ own interpretations with too much detail, but some of the prototype ‘fantasy casting’ includes Ken Jeong, Dwayne Johnson, Adam Driver and Greta Thunberg.
Maxine Lee-Mackie is the incredibly talented illustrator who created the artwork for both covers. We love her interpretation of the magical tunnels called the Slip and the clues to the plot slipped in around them. Most moving of all is seeing how Hedy and Spencer have subtly but discernibly grown – we hope the same is true of the two of us.
THE MAGICIAN’S MAP: A Hoarder Hill Adventure by Mikki Lish and Kelly Ngai out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)
Of course, COVID-19 has added an additional layer of complexity to co-writing a book when the authors are living in different continents, but I’m sure you’ll agree that Mikki and Kelly have done an excellent job of continuing and developing a brilliant first book. Perhaps a slipway between their homes would have been helpful?
*Many thanks to Chicken House Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*