I was so excited when I was approached to participate in this blog tour for Cogheart, and interview the author, Peter Bunzl.
Author: Peter Bunzl
Genre: Middle Grade, Steampunk
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Pub Date: February 12, 2019
Lily’s life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her?
With her friends—Robert, The clockmaker’s son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox—Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart..l
Murder, mayhem and mystery meet in this gripping Victorian adventure.
Questions for Peter Bunzl author of Cogheart…
I read that you started writing at 9 years old. Can you share with us what your childhood was like? What are some of your fondest childhood memories?
I grew up in South London in a rambling Victorian house with 3 cats, 2 dogs, 1 little sister, an antique dealer dad and an artist mum. I always wanted to tell stories, and as a child I found inspiration visiting TV and film sets where my mum worked as a costume designer.
One show my mum worked on was Postman Pat and I remember as a child the director bringing the puppets round in little shoeboxes, with a drawing of what their outfits should look like and notes about their personality.
One day we went to the studio and he showed us the sets and then ran some film through a Moviola – which is like a tabletop projector. I saw the characters movingand I think that started me off on my obsession with animation, and bringing my own characters to life in whatever way I could.
My favorite character in Cogheart is the mechanical fox, Malkin. I am curious how you came up with this character and if there is any significance of the fox for you?
At the time I was writing Cogheart we had a fox living in our garden and I wrote one of the first scenes of the story (Chapter 2) with him in mind. I had originally planned for Malkin to be a mechanical cat being chased through the woods but that just didn’t seen right. So I thought what other animal would be chased through the woods by men with guns? I decided on a fox, and from that moment on the character seemed to come alive and jump off the page.
I see that one of your childhood favorites is Witches by Roald Dahl. For Cogheart fans, what other books would you recommend?
There are loads of other books for kids that I love. I recommend: His Dark Materials, Mortal Engines, Leviathan and UnLondon – all great children’s steampunk stories that also inspired Cogheart.
What can we expect from you next? Are you working on anything at the moment you can tell us about?
I am currently working on a fourth book in the Cogheart Adventures series. I can’t say much about it yet, unfortunately, but it features Lily, Robert and Malkin leaving the UK to go on a new adventure abroad. It will probably be the final one in the series for the time being because I’m itching to have a go at writing a couple of other standalone middle grade ideas I have up my sleeve…
How long did it take to get an agent interested in Cogheart? Can you share with us a bit about your experience?
I’d spent a year working on Cogheart before my writer’s group told me to send it. I sent it to three agents and got three quick rejections. So I worked on the story for another six months.
I also joined SCBWI – The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. When I was ready to resubmit, I went to their agents’ party and sent the revised manuscript to all the agents I’d met there, about twelve, in batches.
By then I had been working on the book for nearly two years. On that second round of submissions I got a couple of full requests and personal replies, and that helped me hold my nerve through some rejections and near-misses until I found an agent who loved my story and saw potential in it. After that, the book took about four months to revise with her and sold quickly in the UK, where it went on to be very successful.
What would be your best advice you’d give to your younger self?
Writing advice… Write what you love, not what you think the market is looking for. Write the best book you can right now. Show it to some friends and get their feedback. Then polish the story until it shines. Finally send it out into the world, and wait. Remember all it takes is one yes.
Life advice… when you’re making choices for yourself trust your heart. Also, everything is temporary, good and bad, coming and going, like the weather, so try not to take trivial things too seriously, that way anxiety lies.
One of the things I enjoyed most about Cogheart is how you were able to create your own amazing steampunk world for this story. I think it would make an amazing animated movie! Will you stick with the steampunk theme for your future novels?
Thanks! I hope there’s a movie one day too. And as for my writing I hope to write about different fantasy worlds. I love stories with magic in as well.
Do you like to go camping? Aside from writing, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
When I am not writing, I like to go swimming, or for walks in the countryside. I do a bit of baking and sometime I go out to a drawing group with friends. I also love to watch films, especially in the cinema. Films and animation are a big inspiration for me. And I love reading; I read a lot, mostly children’s books because I want to see what other people are writing about right now.
Thanks so much to Peter Bunzl and Jolly Fish Press for taking the time to answer my questions.
If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend checking it out, it will be available Tuesday, February 12!
Thanks for stopping by…
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