Louie Stowell introduces her amazing book - Otherland
Title: Otherland – the book of my heart
Every book has its own journey to publication, and Otherland’s has been longer than most. I started it in 2001, after leaving university, and it came out in May 2021. So, 20 years in the making. That wasn’t 20 years of solid writing, and it’s changed beyond recognition since then, but I’ve lived with it all that time. It started out life as a book about a half vampire, half fairy character and was a time travel adventure to Ancient Rome. It’s now a book about two children, Myra and Rohan, rescuing a stolen baby from the Fairy Queen Gloriana of Otherland. I’d describe it as a funny portal fantasy about friendship and facing your fears. The two children are helped by their eccentric and very fashion-forward fairy godmother, Mab as they journey through Otherland – home to fairies, dragons and even gods. Technically it’s home to vampires too but they’re only mentioned, not met. One of the advantages of taking so long to write a book is you end up with a VERY rich world, much of which can’t actually fit on the page. But it’s out there, waiting.
Before Otherland got to climb out of its drawer and into bookshops, I published The Dragon in the Library, the Monster in the Lake and The Wizard in the Wood. That series is about a young wizard called Kit and her very clever friends. It’s aimed at readers aged seven to nine (though these things are always a bit “how long is a piece of string) and has brilliant illustrations by Davide Ortu. I’m very fond of those books and I think they’re a great entry point to my work, for younger readers. It was a lot of fun to write, and I’m very proud of the world I built in those books, and the characters and stories they tell.
But Otherland is the book of my heart. Partly because it’s been with me for so long. But also because it deals in themes that are very important to me. What it means to be different. What it means to feel lost and alienated. What it means to feel like everything’s your fault. What does it mean to be a good person or a bad person? It’s a book with a very light tone, but the questions it touches on are far from jolly. I think you COULD read it and just enjoy the ride, but I hope that some young readers will feel themselves reflected in the pages. I put a lot of myself there.
Publishing a book you love a lot is terrifying. What if everyone hates it? What if no one even notices it? I’ve been very relieved to see people enjoying it (especially children) but it’s definitely an anxious process – putting something out there that you’ve worked on for so long and care so much about. But if you don’t put your true self out there, what’s the point? As Mab says in Otherland: “We’re in a lot of deadly danger. Isn’t that fun?”
I’m so excited for children everywhere to read Otherland. And I think my dream come true would be if they wrote their own fanfic for it. Perhaps about the vampires we never meet…
Otherland by Louie Stowell is aimed at readers aged nine to 12 and published by Nosy Crow. Cover art by George Ermos.
You can get a copy of Louie's amazing book by clicking on the link - Send me a copy of Otherland.
If you like Otherland, you might like…
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by LD Lapinski
The Bigwoof Conspiracy by Dashe Roberts
Malamander by Thomas Taylor
Amari and the Night Brothers by BB Alston