We were given the chance to read Dreamstalkers and pose some questions for author, Sarah Driver about her book and main character, Bea. Do check out her answers in today’s blog.
Sarah, can you tell us a little bit about your latest book, Dreamstalkers?
Dreamstalkers: The Night Train tells the story of Bea Grimspuddle and her owl companion, Pip. In the world of Hirathorn, Bea lives in the remote wilds of a rugged moorland settlement called Thunderheart Tor. She longs to become a mage, riding off on adventures, with the power to use wild magic. Instead she is taught that all the magic of Hirathorn resides exclusively with the elites in the faraway city of Silvervein. Everything changes when the dreams disappear, strange shadows are glimpsed and nightmares come walking. Then the Night Train steams across the moors, and Bea is swept into an adventure in the world of the Dreamstalkers.
The idea of the Night Train is a fantastic one- where did this come from?
The Night Train was part of the very first spark of this story, around five or six years ago. It was one of the first images I described and I was fascinated by its presence; wild like an animal but also an enormous, noisy machine. I loved the idea of someone being part of a secret organisation that works at night, and wondered what type of transport they might use. I visited the London Transport Museum for inspiration. I’ve also taken many sleeper trains over the years, including the Arctic Circle Train. I slept in a bunk in a compartment with five strangers and it took 18 hours to reach Sweden’s northernmost town.
The book has a balance between feeling modern but also feeling historical- did you consciously try to balance this?
I was conscious that Bea and the people of Thunderheart lived in a way that was much simpler and wilder than our own modern way of life. I didn’t actively try to balance it, but I always tried to stay faithful to the voice and made choices that intuitively fit each setting we visit in Hirathorn. While Bea’s world borrows from our own past, I didn’t want to rely on a specific historical period, partly because the book is fantasy and I didn’t want or need the constraint of making it faithfully historical. More so than historical aspects, I wanted to honour the way of life Bea would likely experience based on geographical location within the fantasy world and her social status.
Bea is a brilliant character with tons of personality- where did she come from?
I’m delighted you like Bea! She seemed to almost spring from the earth of Thunderheart – she’s extremely connected to nature, her home, and the elements, while also having a restless longing for adventure. Even from the very first inkling of the book – the idea of being someone who works in the dreams of more important people and can’t reveal themselves – everything came through the perspective of a rough sketch of Bea. As drafting progressed and I got to know her character, I recognised some elements from my own childhood – for example feeling deeply connected to nature, navigating bullies, and nurturing a burning curiosity that won’t be told ‘no’.
This is the first in a series, can you let us know what we can expect from future books? Does Bea appear in all of them?
Bea will be in every Dreamstalkers book – this is her story. Pip and Martha will be central characters again too. The next book will feature some of the other characters from book one plus several new ones as we get to know the world of Hirathorn more deeply. Expect another fast-paced adventure, more appearances from a bigger cast of the dreamstalkers themselves, more dragons, more omen birds, more mages from the various different guilds, and even higher stakes.
What do you hope readers will take from reading Dreamstalkers?
I’m always amazed at how differently every reader experiences my stories – everyone will take away something new. One of my favourite things about being an author is the way that stories take flight and live new lives in the minds of readers. That is out of the author’s hands. But there are some things I hope readers will gain from Dreamstalkers: people are stronger together in the face of injustice. Even if you feel really lonely and misunderstood, there might be someone who feels similarly, waiting to be your friend. You can find your own unique place in the world, find your voice, and find friends you trust. And that makes anything possible.
Dreamstalkers by Sarah Driver is published by Farshore and is available now.