I am delighted to welcome Ross Montgomery to Bookbabblers today. Ross has answered a few questions for us about his new book Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door.
Please tell us a little about yourself
I’m a primary school teacher who lives in London and who’s just published his first book, ALEX, THE DOG & THE UNOPENABLE DOOR. I have brown hair and flat feet. I bite my nails a lot.
Please tell us about Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door and your inspiration for the book?
ALEX, THE DOG & THE UNOPENABLE DOOR is about one boy’s journey to discover what lies at the centre of the Forbidden Land, a vast unmappable world that his father spent his life trying to explore. Along the way he recruits a talking dog who wears an eye patch, an orchestra for psychopathically violent children, a girl with false teeth, and gets chased by an enormous zeppelin pulled by wolves.
Because it’s my first book my inspiration comes from all over the place (I’ve stolen a lot of my friends’ names – don’t tell them), but I started writing ALEX because I was bored and tired and a bit nervous about how much work I had to do. I wanted to leave everything behind and run with a pack of dogs into the middle of a huge empty wilderness. Obviously I didn’t because my boss would kill me and my mum would get worried and the dogs would probably just be embarrassed for me.
What was your journey to publication like?
I had to work very hard but I’ve been extremely lucky, too. I spent two years writing the book before sending it to lots of different agents – people whose job is to sell my book for me, basically. I got one (who is great) and we spent another few months working on the first draft before approaching several publishers, including Faber&Faber who eventually agreed to publish it. Safe to say it was the best day of my life so far. I celebrated by going to a McDonalds and ordering a nugget share box for myself.
Do you have any tips for young aspiring authors?
1. Read lots and lots and lots. Lots of different authors and different styles of writing. The more you read, the more knowledge and techniques you’ll bring to your own writing. Everyone does this – footballers will watch football matches on TV, musicians will listen to music… it just makes everything easier.
2. Write lots and lots and lots. Loads of different stories with different characters – horror stories, adventure stories, comedies, everything! Try out everything you can, and when you’re done try something else out, improving things along the way. If you put all your heart and soul into making one story it can be very difficult to change things – it almost becomes too precious. The more practice you put into writing different stories now, the more you’ll learn and the better your stories will become.
What are you working on now?
Loads of things! I’m finishing my second book, THE TORNADO CHASERS, which is due for publication next Summer, and I’m already starting work on the next book after that, and a few other bits and pieces too. Not to mention all the teaching I’m supposed to be doing! It;s going to be a busy year. I also plan on sleeping and eating and biting my nails a lot.
Look out for our review of Alex, the Dog and the Unopenable Door, which is coming up soon.