I recently had the opportunity to interview Ross Welford, author of the recent US release Time Traveling with a Hamster. This middle grade novel features time travel, a hamster, the magic of the mind palace, and the relationships of three generations of Chaudhury men. I highly recommend you pick up a copy and settle in for a fantastic read!
I, of course, loved the time travel elements of your novel, but I was especially taken with the characters. In particular, I loved that Al meets his father and grandfather at such different times in their lives; what kid doesn’t wonder what their older relatives were like as kids? Can you share a bit about your inspiration for this story and the Chaudhury family?
It actually all built up over several drafts. Byron arrived ready-made: a gift-wrapped character that required virtually no work on my part other than describing what I saw and transcribing his words from my head. The rest of the family came bit by bit. After reading the first draft, my wife said she loved Byron so much that she would like there to be an encounter between Al and Byron in 1984 (which there wasn’t to begin with) so that was added in a later draft, as well as rounding out Sarah’s (Mum) character: she was a bit of a bland, all-purpose fictional mum before.Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end?
As for the story, it came from me wondering what would happen if you really did go back in time and try to alter history. That’s quite a common device in time travel fiction, but I’m pretty certain my take on it is original.
I’m kind of still learning my “process.” Hamster was the first thing I ever wrote, more or less. I tried planning it at first, but that didn’t work, so in the end I just wrote with a sort-of ending in mind – an ending that changed anyway. I’m now becoming more confident with that process: I trust that the characters will provide me with enough material to make the story work. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter – you can always rewrite.Inspiration comes in many forms. Share three people, places, or things that inspire your creativity.
My children: without them I probably wouldn’t have started writing. It sounds pathetically needy, but I wanted them to be able to say something interesting when asked what their dad did.My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot.
My country house: I’m very lucky to have a place two hours out of London, in a small village with a pub. It’s quiet and I often go there on my own on a sort of writing “retreat”. I say “alone” but there is always...
...My dog: Jess is a five-year-old Border Collie, completely loyal and obedient. If I’m stuck on a plot point, for example, an hour’s walk with Jess will often clear my mind. (Not always, though – it’s not a magic spell for lucid writing!)
As a teenager, I bought a book called The Royal Road to Card Magic by two American magicians, Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue. For years it was the standard text for learning magic with playing cards, although it’s quite out-dated now (“Borrow a felt hat from a gentleman in the audience...” that sort of thing). Magic – not just card magic - remains one of my many hiding spots. I seldom perform these days, but I love reading about it, practicing new tricks, watching it on TV or live, and I still dip into The Royal Road now and then.What can readers look forward to next?
Early 2017 sees the UK publication of my second book, What Not To Do If You Turn Invisible. It is set in the same part of the world – England’s northeast – but with a completely different cast from Hamster, and is a totally new story. Writing it was way harder than writing Hamster, though I was encouraged by many people along the way who said that the second book is every author’s most challenging one. (I’m supposed to be doing final edits on it right now, but I’m writing this instead, so if Invisible doesn’t reach the bookshops in time, I’ll blame The Hiding Spot blog!)
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More About the Book
Back to the Future meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in this original, poignant, race-against-time story about a boy who travels back to 1984 to save his father’s life.
My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty-nine and again four years later, when he was twelve. On his twelfth birthday, Al Chaudhury receives a letter from his dead father. It directs him to the bunker of their old house, where Al finds a time machine (an ancient computer and a tin bucket). The letter also outlines a mission: travel back to 1984 and prevent the go-kart accident that will eventually take his father’s life. But as Al soon discovers, whizzing back thirty years requires not only imagination and courage, but also lying to your mom, stealing a moped, and setting your school on fire—oh, and keeping your pet hamster safe. With a literary edge and tons of commerical appeal, this incredible debut has it all: heart, humor, vividly imagined characters, and a pitch-perfect voice.
Many thanks for visiting The Hiding Spot!