Ross’ book has just been announced as the November children’s book of the month…and for good reason. This is a beautifully crafted tale which takes the reader on a magical adventure.
Set in WW2, Col is an evacuee who keeps hearing the voices of his Guardians in his head; his once imaginary friends he has had growing up have appeared to him and he needs them now more than ever. Just as much, it seems, as they need him. His Guardians are a six-foot tiger, a badger (who rather smartly wears a waistcoat) and a miniature knight who are all prepared to do what it takes to help Col. His sister is in danger, and Col needs to save her.
This is a fantastic book which is full of action; not only has it got the historical element of the London Blitz, but it has the magical fantasy element too. It allows children to feel some real escapism; most of us will have had an imaginary friend growing up which makes this such an exciting, relatable adventure.
But enough from me! Ross Montgomery has kindly answered some questions for me today all about Midnight Guardians and some of his other fantastic books…
1) Did you have a childhood imaginary friend? If so, what were they like?
I never had an imaginary friend – at least, not in the conventional sense of having one single character who’s around a lot! What I did have was loads of different characters who I cast in my imaginary games – I guess this was inspired by my love of reading BEANO annuals, which were all about having a host of different characters and exploring different types of short story. I would play or hours with those characters, building up confidence in my stories until I was creating epic space operas! They were the first stories I told, I think.
2) Which is your favourite guardian in the book?
What a cruel question! There’s no such thing as a favourite! I could never in a million years choose…. Look, it’s Mr Noakes alright? I said it. I could lie and say that I love them all equally, but the honest truth is I’ve never fully gotten over the idea of a badger in a waistcoat. A WAISTCOAT! With little pockets! I wonder what he keeps in them?
3) If you have a guardian now, what would you hope it’s like?
4) Why do you think WW2 is an important topics for books to visit?
It’s odd – one of the reasons I set a book during WW2 was out of frustration for how many books were coming out set during that period of history. I felt some of them were presenting the war as some sort of golden age, where everyone was lovely and people knew exactly what they were doing, which I just don’t agree with. I think people back then were just as confused and frightened as people are now, and the answers weren’t always clear and obvious – I wanted to try and write a WW2 book that reflected that.
5) What are the most important themes in your book?
I think at its heart, the book is about light and darkness – how each has their time, and neither lasts forever, and that standing against darkness is the only thing you can do to defeat it. A friend’s father once told me, “Nothing is ever as good as you remember it being, but it’s also never as bad as you fear it is”, and I’ve found that incredibly comforting over the last few years. Things are never really perfect, not for everyone – and things are never beyond hope, because the solution is always creating itself where you can’t see it yet.
6) I love the little article inserts throughout the book. Did you write these as you went?
This was one of the last things I did for the book – I suddenly realised that using newspaper articles as headers would be the ideal way to cover lots of context and exposition without having to crowbar it into the text or dialogue! So I went to the British Library and checked out newspapers from those exact dates – well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Some of the stuff just fit so perfectly! For copyright reasons I had to alter the wording of the articles, but this also let me combine several together which was doubly helpful.
And it was so reassuring to see that during the Blitz, just like the newspaper coverage of coronavirus now, people weren’t being perfect – people were still being selfish and breaking the rules, councils and the government were botching things constantly, and everyone was arguing. I mean – you would, wouldn’t you? It was a war! Britain was being bombed almost every night! No one knew what to do! The idea that we were all pulling together as a country is a little disingenuous, and doesn’t really help us understand how human beings react to frightening situations. That’s what makes all the amazing acts of kindness and community and charity so special – that people were still doing it, despite everything.
7) Finally….what’s next?!
I’ve got two books out with Walker next year! I’m just about to crack on with Draft 2 of my next MG book, currently called CHANGELING, about a boy who’s baby sister is stolen away by fairies. I also have a picture book out with Sarah Warburton called TEN DELICIOUS TEACHERS, a rhyming book about teachers who go skipping through a forest and get eaten by monsters, one by one! I also have another novella out with Barrington Stoke based on The Tempest called TRIPWRECKED!, a sequel to my Midsummer Night’s Dream inspired ROCK BOTTOM which came out in October.
Thank you so much Ross for taking the time to give such brilliant answers – I am so excited for your next book – I’m sure it will be just as fantastic as this one!
If you like the sound of this book, buy it here: https://amzn.to/326iOVd
📚 Book gifted by publisher