Ross Montgomery’s latest book, The Midnight Guardians, is OUT NOW! So, OF COURSE we asked Ross to pop into MyBookCorner to answer our infamous questions.
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
I was a kid who wrote stories who became a teacher who wrote books in his spare time who is now an author who can’t count.
Your latest novel, The Midnight Guardians, is hitting the shelves. Can you tell us a little bit about how it came to be?
Absolutely! I think when I started writing THE MIDNIGHT GUARDIANS, I wanted to try and capture the feeling of the classic kid’s books I read when I was 10 – stories that were filled with folklore and threat and good and evil. I loved the idea of a boy going on a life-or-death quest with his old imaginary friends – as a child who spent most of his time lost in his imagination, I felt like it was something I could write about! Last of all, I’d been thinking a lot about the Blitz – about how unthinkable it was, that Britain was bombed almost every single night for 8 months, and what that must have felt like.
Ok, here’s a challenge… can you sum up your book in five words? [runs and hides!]
Family, friendship, hope, darkness, badgers.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I used to write every single day, and sometimes I still do, but recently I’ve been learning to pace myself as I have much more free time on my hands!! At the moment, the ingredients for a good day are: two cups of coffee, forgetting to have breakfast, emails, two to three hours of writing, lunch, forcing myself to go outside, really enjoying it once I’m out there, using a plant identification app to identify every single godforsaken plant I come across, planning and cooking an elaborate dinner, eating so much I can barely see, shedloads of reading, bed.
What makes you happy?
What an excellent question! I think that when your job involves spending a lot of time inside your head, the things that make you happy are the bits that get you out of it for a while. Chatting with other people, going for long walks but actually looking at what’s going on around you rather than just thinking, exercise, cooking… My two biggest discoveries recently have been meditation and getting back into reading IN A BIG WAY. I need more shelves!
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
I’m squinting at it from across the room and I see: A LETTER FOR THE KING by Tongke Dragt, AS YOU LIKE IT, BLACK LEOPARD RED WOLF by Marlon James, about five Diana Wynn Jones books (how have I waited this long to start reading her?!) RAGNAROK by A.S. Byatt, and a very large number of quite intense looking non-fiction books that people have bought me for birthdays for the last five years and I promise I will one day read.
What’s your worst habit?
Gaaaaah!! I’ve never fully gotten over biting my nails, which is pretty appalling. However I think the honest answer is worrying – I’m terrible for it!
Your favourite word(s) and why
The German word for immigrant worker is GASTARBEITER, pronounced “gas-tar-biter”, and I think I could say it every five seconds for a whole day and still enjoy how it sounds.
What are your top tips for budding writers?
I think that when you start out writing, you’re caught in a bind of “what should I write about?” The answer is that you should write about stuff you really care about and know and understand – to which the answer is, “yeah, but how do I know what that is?!” The only way to find out is to write – and that’s a scary position to find yourself in. To know what to write, you have to write – you have to do it lots, and make lots of mistakes, and tear your hair out and start all over, to understand what it is you need to write, and there’s no easy way around it! It’s like any skill – the only way to get good at playing the piano is to play it.
Is there anything that’s surprised you about the publishing process?
There’s lots of things about it that I never expected – how long everything takes, for one – but I think that I always imagined there would be lots more meetings and discussions than there are. In fact, a huge amount of time you’re just left to get on with it – you can go a whole year without seeing anyone who makes your books!
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)
Yes! At the moment, it’s called CHANGELING, and is about a boy whose baby sister is stolen away by an evil fairy and replaced with a Changeling. Th only way to get her back is to enter into a wager with the fairy and complete three tasks before the day is over…
Did we forget anything?
I also have a picture book out next year with Walker – TEN DELICIOUS TEACHERS, a rhyming book about ten teachers who go skipping through a forest and get gobbled up by monsters!
Just for fun
Tea or coffee?
I want to say tea but the answer is coffee.
Paper books or e-books?
Paper books! I think e-books would be very useful for me, but I can’t help myself.
Cake or chocolate?
There are times when only cake will do, but most of the time it’s chocolate.
Write or type?
Type! I hate my handwriting and make so many changes it would be exhausting.
Poetry or prose?
I would love to read more poetry, but I think prose always speaks to me more.
Hot or cold?
I am always, always, always boiling hot. I heat rooms.
The Midnight Guardians is an enchanting, edge-of-your-seat magical adventure set in December 1940 in wintry World War II Britain and follows a boy and his Guardians on a quest to save his sister and perhaps even the very world itself. It’s Lord of the Rings meets Narnia, with charming animal Guardians from the Spirit World, folklore creatures from fairies to giants and a treacherous journey through England to reach Blitz-bombed London.