We’re thrilled Vashti Hardy, the author of Brightstorm and Wildspark – both nominated for the Blue Peter Book Award! – has written our latest guest blog to mark a very exciting day… Darkwhispers, the sequel to Brightstorm, is out TODAY!!!
In this blog Vashti shares the books and stories she loved as a child, the moment she knew she wanted to create stories, and what inspired her to write the brilliant Brightstorm…
As a child, I was always drawn to stories with an element of fantasy, science fiction and magic. The first longer book read to me by a teacher in school was Rebecca’s World by Terry Nation, a book that changed everything for me. I can still see the pink fog as though I was stepping into the story alongside Rebecca as she embarked on an adventure in a strange new world. I realised then that imagination was like having a superpower; through story you can go anywhere and make anything possible. I knew at the point of reading Rebecca’s World that one day I wanted to create stories, to build worlds beyond the confines of our own, where I could journey beyond what is, and imagine what could be. Other favourites as a child included Chocky by John Wyndham, J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit and the C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, which I went on to share with my own children along with the new wave of brilliant fantasy with the Harry Potter books.
Even though I love reading and writing fantasy stories, the idea for the world of Brightstorm and Darkwhispers is very much rooted in real-life. The stories were inspired by one of my long-standing fascinations: the tales of real-life explorers and adventurers. I’ve always been drawn to the personalities of explorers, their shared traits and drives, the qualities that compel them to adventure, the virtues that get them through challenging and often perilous situations. One day I was reading a non-fiction book called A Teacup in a Storm: An Explorer’s Guide to Life by Mick Conefrey, and I came across the advert Shackleton had apparently used to find the crew for his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. I instantly thought it would make a great call to adventure for a children’s story, and I wondered what would compel two children to reply to an advert like that. Then the characters Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm popped into my imagination and their situation with their father having lost his life on an expedition and being accused of breaking the explorer’s code. Nobody believes them, so the twins decide to answer an advert to follow in their father’s footsteps to find the truth and clear his name.
As well as being the initial spark for the series, aspects of real-life adventurer and explorer personalities have fed into the characters of the Brightstorm books. For example, Harriet Culpepper, captain of the Aurora, was influenced by the aviator Amelia Earhart, and the Brightstorm twins’ ability to push through barriers and find a way is a trait of many explorer/adventurers such as Edmund Hillary, Nellie Bly and Isabella Bird. One of the great things about fantasy is that the reader gets to try out the emotions of confidence, fear, tenacity, facing difficulty, and bravery, all in the pages of a book, and hopefully you come out the other side a little bolder than when you entered. So for the adventurous of heart, a whole new world of discovery is waiting for you in the frozen south and jungly east of the Wide. Jump inside and lose yourself to adventure!
Thanks Vashti! For a chance to win Brightstorm and Darkwhispers email firstname.lastname@example.org with your children’s names, ages, postal address, and military connection with DARKWHISPERS in the subject heading, by midnight on 10th February.