The Roar trilogy is now complete with The Battle for Roar published in July. Fans are rejoicing over this trilogy and we were so excited to chat to Jenny McLachlan about her books and characters.
How has the reaction been to each book in the trilogy? Has it surprised you?
The love for Roar has grown with each new book and this has surprised and, as you can imagine, delighted me! I did have a quiet confidence that the Land of Roar books would offer children something they really wanted. I wrote them very much with children’s hopes and dreams in mind. The Land of Roar itself is created through the games of two children, Arthur and Rose, and they always visit without grown-ups. Not only is it a huge natural playground filled with waterfalls, ice-tunnels, tangled forests and dragons, it also offers endless opportunities for adventure because of the characters who live there. I love visiting Roar when I write the books and it makes me very happy to know that children love it too.
Do you have a favourite character in the trilogy?
Possibly the villain, Crowky. Rose invented him to scare her brother and he’s a combination of two things that terrify Arthur: scarecrows and crows. With his crackly straw-stuffed body, clever inventor’s brain and scratchy voice he’s always a pleasure to describe. I really enjoyed writing the scenes where Arthur and Rose finally get to see inside Crowky’s home, the Crow’s Nest. It’s like a very sinister episode of Through the Keyhole.
Which do you find easier to write, the heroes or the villains?
Crowky is one of the creepiest villains we have read- where did the idea for Crowky come from?
Arthur explains that his own scarecrow/crow fear was born after two terrifying experiences: getting lost in a maize maze (and grabbing hold of his mum’s arm only to discover he was actually holding the arm of an Elvis scarecrow) and a crow getting stuck in his hair. This is quite close to my own inspiration for Crowky: my daughters were terrified by the scarecrows in a maize maze and a rook once got tangled up in my Auntie Joy’s hair. As a child I was also scared of Jon Pertwee in the original Worzel Gummidge TV show. Mix all these things together and you get Crowky!
Did you find any of the books easier to write than the others?
I think I found all three books equally challenging to write. They all have twisty plots and there are two protagonists, Arthur and Rose, who develop in their own ways during the course of each book. Writing a fantasy in the first person also brought its own challenges. Some wild things happen to Arthur and he has to respond believably to them. There’s no omniscient narrator who can handily smooth things over.
What has been your highlight of writing the Roar series?
It has been quite magical seeing Roar capture the imaginations of children. I am sent pictures of dragons, maps of imaginary worlds and told about the Roar-inspired games children play. Really, what more could a children’s author ask for?
What is next for you? Are you working on anything you can share with us?
I have nearly finished the first book in a new trilogy that involves an epic map, a mystery and a cast of delightfully spooky characters, and I’m also working on another top-secret project. It’s fair to say that I’ve got an exciting few years ahead of me!
What do you want readers to take away from reading the Roar trilogy?
The Land of Roar trilogy is a celebration of children’s imaginations and the precious nature of childhood and play. If the books inspire children to spend more time reading, playing, drawing, making things or just daydreaming then they have done their job.
The Land of Road, Return to Roar and The Battle for Roar are all published by FarShore and available from book retailers.