Q&A with Shane Hegarty

On what was publication day of his fourth instalment in his Darkmouth series, Just Imagine were lucky enough to once again take Irish author Shane Hegarty out to visit schools in Essex. Following an exciting day of library-opening & children-rousing, we pinned him down for a quick “Q&A” on those questions everyone wants answers to…

Just Imagine: So, Book 4! What excitements can we expect in this new instalment? And will there be a Book 5…or beyond?

Shane Hegarty: So much excitement! I give you the Darkmouth guarantee of a cliffhanger to end every chapter as Finn and Emmie go on the run from everyone and everything in this world and that of the Legends. I had so much fun writing it and I know the readers have really responded to that. As for a Book 5, time will tell…

JI: Do you have a favourite new character/monster in this book?

SH: There is a “sort of cyclops” called Sulawan who chews rocks down to their nub and he has a Sprite partner called Beag. There’s a theme park called Smoofyland which has the sparkliest rollercoaster in the world until something big and bony turns up.

JI: We always love James De La Rue’s character illustrations and maps in the books. How did you come to work with him and what’s it been like to see your work come to life in his illustrations?

SH: It is amazing to see James’s stunning, detailed illustrations because he takes what is in my head and makes it so real. My publishers HarperCollins put us together and from day one he got the world and spirit of Darkmouth perfectly.

JI: We also love the new covers. Can you tell us what prompted the change to this new look?

SH: As we entered a new phase of the story, it was a great idea to give them these bold and striking new covers. Each of them has a clue about the story within and they almost glow in the dark the colours are so bold.

JI: We gather that the film rights for “Darkmouth” have now been sold & directors/producers appointed. Are you going to be involved at all in the film?

SH: I’ve already seen some of the early work on the film, which will be animated and made by amazing directors Doug Sweetland (Storks, Monsters Inc., Toy Story) and Dave Pimentel (Moana, How to Train Your Dragon). It is really incredible and I’m so delighted the film is such hands. I’m no good at drawing, so I’ll let them get on with doing that.

JI: Can you tell us a little bit about your background & how you got into writing?

SH: I was a journalist with the Irish Times here in Ireland, and had a couple of popular history books under my belt, but for years I’d wanted to write a fun, fantastical adventure story. As too often happens, I’d let life get in the way and it was only when I realised I would regret it if I didn’t at least give it a go that I finally sat down and did it. Thankfully, the books appealed to the younger readers who just happen to be – in my opinion – a wonderful, imaginative and endlessly curious audience.

JI: And finally, do you have any top tips for budding writers?

SH: On school and festival visits I tell my readers that I use two words every day: ‘what if’. All my stories start with that. What if a monster invaded your town or street or school. What if you had to fight it. What if you didn’t want to do it. Sometimes, young writers get stuck for an idea when writing school stories, but starting with ‘what if’ will get the ideas flowing quickly.

Thanks to Shane for talking to us – see you next trip!