The seed of my MOONCHILD duology was sewn in Boscastle,
Cornwall, in the summer of 2017. I remember it well because I was visiting on
holiday and had taken part in a tour of the local area. One thing I learned
stuck in my mind above all else: years and years ago, sea witches, with cats
aboard, would sail into the harbour and sell knots to sailors, claiming they
would bring good winds. In reality, it was a clever tactic born out of cats’
ability to sense changes in the atmosphere.
Unusually, for a children’s book, the first two characters I
thought of in MOONCHILD: VOYAGE OF THE LOST AND FOUND were my protagonist’s
mothers. I imagined them to be the sea witches sailing and bartering items,
finding a child they would eventually raise together (who, of course, had
a cat companion). It’s why, I think, they feature so much in the story –
because I knew their lives well.
When I started to nurture the story, water it, I knew
immediately I wanted it to be closer to home. And it struck me how many
parallels there were between the seafaring culture of Cornwall, and Kuwait,
where I spent my formative years, and where my mother’s half of my family is
Most people think of the Middle East as desert. And desert
is a huge part of the culture and a place I visited often as a child. But it
has a rich seafaring history too that I wanted to explore in my first book, as
an alternative route into Middle Eastern fiction.
And then, of course, there was magic. Inspired by The
Arabian Nights the characters in the MOONCHILD series find lost
cities, fight creatures big and small, and channel moon magic – ruled by
emotion. To me, magic was a way of showing that feeling emotions, displaying
them (even the ones we consider ‘bad’) is an act of bravery. And so, my first
protagonist, Amira, is rewarded for her anger, as are her friends, for their
own ruling emotions.
In a world ruled by emotion, it seemed to make most sense to
turn the series into a duology, the first ruled by emotional moon magic, and
the second ruled by logical sun magic. Borrowing from legends of old, but
spinning them anew, I hope to explore the relationship between emotion and
logic, the sun and moon, through magic and myth (with a bit of mayhem sprinkled
Aisha Bushby is the author of the acclaimed Pocketful
of Stars (2019) and the enchanting middle grade fantasy adventure series, Moonchild,
illustrated by Rachael Dean. Moonchild: City of the Sun, the last in the
series, is out now and published by Farshore.
Follow Aisha on Twitter and Instagram @AishaBushby