An Interview with Sophie Anderson – with Children’s Books North

Welcome to Children’s Books North’s Autumn Highlights – celebrating new books from CBN members with a tour of Northern and Scottish book blogs. I am so excited to be a part of this, especially getting to host an interview with the incredible Sophie Anderson. I read The Girl Who Speaks Bear a few months ago and couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Castle of Tangled Magic, so this is a proper fangirl moment for me.

If you don’t know, Children’s Books North aims to connect children’s book professionals living in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and Scotland. The network seeks to promote our members’ work, new books and events. Additionally, CBN is keen to bring focus on the importance of regional diversity in children’s books and the industry. I’ll leave all of their socials at the bottom of the post as they’re definitely worth a follow.

The Autumn highlights are running from the 23rd to the 27th, so make sure to look out for the other interviews during the week.

Sophie Anderson is the amazing author of The House with Chicken Legs, The Girl Who Speaks Bear and The Castle of Tangled Magic, which was released 1st October 2020.

Illustrated by Saara Söderlund, designed by Katharine Millichope, published by Usborne Publishing. 
Photo by seenicksphotography

The Castle of Tangled Magic © Sophie Anderson 2020 — Usborne Publishing

The Interview

Tell us about your new book

The Castle of Tangled Magic is a magical doorway adventure about the power of love, courage, believing in magic – and yourself!

Share your favourite passage/extract from the book

I’m rather fond of the moment when the main character, Olia, opens the magical doorway she finds in one of her castle’s roof domes, and I love the double-page illustration Saara Söderlund created for this:

Illustration by Saara Söderlund, The Castle of Tangled Magic © Sophie Anderson 2020 — Usborne Publishing. 

I slide the key into the keyhole, and turn it.

A loud, clear click resonates through the attic and into my body. I feel it rippling through my flesh and echoing in my bones. Then a blinding light rushes over me and I close my eyes and draw back, still clutching the key in my hand.

“It’s all right, Olia. We’re safe.” Feliks nudges me gently and I peep my eyes open. As they adjust to the bright light, I see a section of the dome has opened outwards, forming a door. Beyond it, I should see the roof of Castle Mila. But I don’t. My jaw drops and I gasp at the sight of a whole other land.

What/who/where inspired this book?

The castle in the book, Castle Mila, was inspired by Russia’s centuries-old wooden buildings, especially The Church of Transfiguration on Kizhi Island in Russia’s Lake Onega. The story and many of the characters were inspired by Ruslan and Ludmila (a fairy tale in verse written by Alexander Pushkin in 1820), and various spirits from Slavic mythology.

Nominate one children’s book by a northern or Scottish creative to read this winter.

Winter is a lovely time to discover a new series, so if you haven’t read James Nicol’s The Apprentice Witch books, I think they would be a wonderful recommendation. Full of magic, adventure and humour, they are the perfect books to cosy up with during the long nights.

If you had to set your next book somewhere in the North of the UK, where would you set it and why?   

The Lake District, because it contains beautiful fairy-tale landscapes where anything could happen, and because I’ve lived here for fourteen years now, so it feels very much like home!

A huge thank you to Sophie Anderson for answering these questions. The Castle of Tangled Magic is a stunning book with beautiful illustrations and I’m so glad to know a little bit more about its backstory. I would definitely like to see a book set in The Lake District too! Have you read any of Sophie Anderson’s books? Which did you like the most?

And, I’d like to say another thank you to Children’s Books North for letting me be a part of this Autumn highlights. Here are their socials:

Children’s Books North

Children’s Books North was created by Tilda Johnson, Liz Scott and Emma Layfield to strengthen the connections between children’s authors, illustrators and publishing professionals across the north of England and Scotland.

Twitter: @books_north    

Insta: childrens_books_north


Check out the rest of Children’s Books North Autumn Highlights 2020 Blog Tour

2 thoughts on “An Interview with Sophie Anderson – with Children’s Books North

  1. This sounds like the kind of book I would be obsessed with! I love Olia’s name too, so pretty. And I’m so jealous of Sophie living at the Lakes! What a dreamy place to write 😍
    Great interview!


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