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Guest Author - Michelle Harrison

Q1) Your new book The Other Alice is about characters coming to life off a page; does this concept have any metaphorical significance?

To an extent, yes. I don't claim to be one of those mad writer types who has conversations in my head with my characters, but they do feel like real people to me. The weird thing is getting my head round that I invented them, so they actually are me in a way – even the awful ones! They all seem so different with their own personalities that it's strange to think they came out of my imagination. BUT – the main concept here is just the fun, or terror, of something you're reading becoming your reality.

Q2) Your books are based a lot around the supernatural element of things; what inspired you to explore this genre?

I've always strayed into this territory for some reason! I think mainly because it's the subject matter I was drawn to as a child and continue to be as an adult. There's nothing quite like that squirmy feeling you get from reading something frightening, that plays on your mind and gets you asking, What if? The supernatural is a great outlet for this because it plays on our fears, even if we think we're okay with something and not scared . . . until the lights go off and you're in bed, and something creaks nearby. Fear shows us who we really are. I've always been intrigued by that.

Q3) Your book covers are quite creative and very original; what is your favourite book cover?

Of my own books I really love The Other Alice cover which is illustrated by Chloe Bonfield, but I think my absolute favourite was the first edition of The Thirteen Curses, by Christopher Gibbs. I've been very lucky with my covers and been paired with some great illustrators.

Of other writers' books covers there are so many it's hard to choose but a few of my favourites are:

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric

And all of Emma Carroll's book covers are beautiful – serious cover envy right there!

Q4) What books and authors do you take inspiration from and why?

Books that generate ideas tend to be non-fiction, such as volumes of folklore or witchcraft. I've got the Element Encyclopaedias of Witchcraft and 5000 Spells. There's some fascinating, creepy and downright nasty stuff in those books.

In terms of style, The Merrybegot by Julie Hearn was a big inspiration. It's a great story, beautifully and unusually written. I also admire Anne Cassidy for her direct writing approach, although it's never something I can seem to do. Kate Cann is another author whose style I adore, she has a wonderful way with description that makes you want to be in the place (or eating the food) she's writing about. Emma Carroll for her atmospheric description and dialogue, and Cat Clarke for her great plots. Finally, I recently read the multi award-winning One by Sarah Crossan, which stood out for being written in sparse, beautiful verse.

Q5) As we don't know much about your new book, what can we expect from these characters?

Double-crossing, stealing, conflict, obsession, magic and madness - and that's just the heroes! From the villains expect all of that multiplied by two . . . plus a few murders.

Q6) If you could be any one of your book characters who would you be?

It's a toss up between Tabitha in The Other Alice and Rowan Fox from my Thirteen Treasures series. Tabitha is a magical black cat with nine lives, which she can transfer to other people. She's sharp, sarcastic, and sits around drinking tea or sleeping a lot of the time, which would suit me well.

But . . . Rowan is half fairy, ruthless, smart and hard as nails. No one messes with her. AND she has a coat that allows her to turn into a fox. It's a tough call.

Q7) The Other Alice is told from the viewpoint of Alice's brother; do you have any siblings? If so did you base the character traits on them?

I have two sisters who are both older than me. Alice and Midge's relationship is heavily inspired by my relationship with my sisters. Like Alice and Midge, my sisters have a different father to me and they told me lots of stories as I grew up to keep me entertained, many of which they made up themselves. I definitely owe my love of stories to them.