Jessica Townsend- author of Nevermoor
Tell us about your book – what inspired you to write it?
I think Nevermoor kind of solidified as a book when I brought together two ideas: one was the character of Morrigan, who began as an adult character – someone’s eccentric aunt – in another story I was planning to write; the other was the idea of this magical, dangerous, secret, ridiculous city where you feel like anything could happen. I enjoyed taking this brave, interesting grown-up version of Morrigan and dialing her back to her childhood to ask the question of how she became the person she was, and what happened in her youth to make her such a fascinating woman. When I put Morrigan in the middle of this strange, perilous city, the two ideas instantly chimed and made more sense together than they did apart.
If you could live as one of your characters for a day – which one would you choose and why?
I think it would be interesting to see the world the way that Jupiter North does. His talent in Nevermoor is being a ‘Witness’ – somebody who sees the truth and secrets and history of the world and people around him in a really visual, colourful way. When someone lies, he can see it as a smudge on their face. If someone’s been having bad dreams, he sees them buzzing around their head like flies. I wouldn’t want it permanently, but it would be fascinating to be a Witness for a day!
Which book would you want to read again for the first time?
So many. But I’ve been listening to the audiobook of The Book of Dust this week while I’m on tour in the UK, and it has been so wonderful to enter Philip Pullman’s world again. It’s making me nostalgic for the first time I read His Dark Materials, so that would be my answer this week – I would like to experience daemons and alethiometers and Lyra’s Oxford again for the first time.
What was your favourite book as a child?
My favourite book in the world was then, and is now, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I still have my battered old Reader’s Digest copy from the fifties that belonged to my grandmother. It’s such a sentimental choice, but I’ve always loved stories about sisters. I adore Jo March.
We know you are a talented writer, do you have any hidden talents?
Thank you! I have several hidden skills, chief among them making an excellent fancy grown-up mac and cheese, remembering obscure lyrics of 90s pop songs, raising one eyebrow and being able to fall asleep pretty much anywhere.
Can you tell us what you are working on now?
I’m finishing up the second book in the series, which will be called Wundersmith. It’s been incredibly fun and challenging to open up these new, unseen parts of Morrigan’s world, and so rewarding to return to the characters and places in Nevermoor that I love.