An impossible adventure!
1st Nov 19

An impossible adventure!

Look out for an impossible boy and some impossible adventures in BEN BROOKS's new book, THE IMPOSSIBLE BOY! Here, he tells us more about his latest adventure.

Oleg and Emma miss an old school friend very much, so they decide to invent a new one, Sebastian Cole, to help fill the gap she has left. But they don't expect to actually meet Sebastian in their secret den.

Once he is in their lives, Sebastian Cole brings adventures that takes them to unexpected places, and brings some very special new friendships into their lives.

Look out for talking snowmen, warm icecream - and the mysterious and forbidding Institute of Unreality!

BEN BROOKS tells us more about THE IMPOSSIBLE BOY:

Q: The Impossible Boy is about a child, Sebastian Cole, who becomes real after two children - Emma and Oleg - imagine him. Was there any one thing or moment that helped inspire you to write this book?

A: Whenever me and my friend Dan were bored at school, we'd fill out an extra piece of work very, very weirdly and then write the name Sebastian Cole at the top. Sometimes, if we were very lucky, we'd have a supply teacher who would actually mark Sebastian Cole's work. So actually I didn't have to make too much up. Although I'll admit we never got to meet him.

Q: Who or what would you like to have in your own life, if you could imagine one thing into reality?

A: A very large and peaceful Studio Ghibli type guardian would be nice. A giant, cuddly beast that would traipse along behind me, making sure nothing bad happened. Also, I wouldn't mind a way of storing entire books in your head, so that you could take them out and read them no matter where you were.

Q: Sebastian Cole, the 'impossibly boy', is wonderfully cheerful, and loves new experiences. Did anyone real or imagined help inspire Sebastian?

A: There was no-one I was particularly conscious of, but I realised afterwards that he seemed a little bit like a young Doctor Who. I suppose he's also similar to Doctor Who in that he seems to have both a very big past and no past at all.

Q: There is a lot about friendship in this story, and missing old friends and moving on. What were your childhood experiences of friendship?

A: My memories of childhood friendships were that they shifted a lot. Someone could be your best friend for a year, and then you'd both change a little and stop hanging out, and the next thing you know you're both adults and you haven't spoken for ten years.

Q: Why did you decide to give Oleg and Emma difficult home lives and largely absent parents?

A: A lot of us have difficult home lives as kids, but that doesn't necessarily mean you want to read a sad, serious book with that at the centre. I think having it as one element of a story can let kids know that, at home, behind-the-scenes, everyone's got something going on, so you needn't feel alone in your struggles, and you should sometimes give people the benefit of the doubt if they turn up for school a little grumpy.

Q: You also tackle bullying in this book, but why use the grown-ups to explore it rather than the children?

A: I think it's incredibly important for children to scrutinise adults, in the same way they might scrutinise themselves or each other. Age, as we know, is not necessarily an indication of wisdom, thoughtfulness, or being in the right. Greta Thunberg is a great example of a young person pointing at people older than themselves and saying: what you're doing is not right.

Q: Other than the creation of Sebastian, what was your favourite 'impossible' moment in this story?

A: It's hard not to wish that snowmen, or snowwomen as they are in the book, will start talking to you, especially if you've grown up humming Walking in the Air. So I enjoyed that. And unexpected good things happening to people who've faced a lot of hardship is always nice to write.

Q: In a book where anything can happen, could it have become too easy to get your characters out of the scrapes you have written them into?

A: Well, you've uncovered the trick. The problem, of course, is that they can get out of situations in impossible ways, but they can also find themselves in impossible situations. Anyway, it's only a trick that you can use once.

Q: Do you relate to Oleg's Polish grandmother in the attic - she's an author who struggles to finish the books she is writing?

A: Yes, very much so. It can be very easy to set off on an adventure and much more difficult to get home. I'm guilty of abandoning many characters in forests and fantasy lands because I didn't know what to do with them.

Q: There are lots of things that help make Emma and Oleg happy - like good friends, and Sebastian's bag that produces spaceships and hot chocolate. What makes you happiest?

A: Having lots to read, lighting a (contained) fire, tea with weird ingredients, (safely) lifting heavy things, seeing friends you haven't seen in a long time, having a day without any plans, walking while listening to podcasts, and Banitsa, which are a kind of Bulgarian pastry filled with cheese.

Q: Are you writing another book for children?

A: Yes, many books, possibly too many books.

Q: Are there any children's books you have read recently that you'd like to recommend to our members

A: The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius is one of the most exciting adventure stories I've ever read. Also every book by Tonke Dragt. And the Pages and Co series by Anna James.

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