It was when I was standing on the roof of a three storey building, clearing out a gutter, that I first thought of the Boy Who Flew. It wasn’t thing I normally did. It wasn’t a place I’d ever been. But it was a building I knew really well. I was removing seagull nests, twigs, leaves, feathers, broken egg shell, and I looked around and realised that I was seeing a city I knew from a totally different perspective.
Of course, people had been up there before, but had they looked? Had they really looked? Had they imagined what it would be like to live up there? Had they imagined the seagulls building their nests, bringing up their young, fighting with the pigeons? Drinking their water from the gutters, sheltering from the storms. Flying across the rooftops?
At the time, I imagined a whole family that lived in the house under my feet. I thought about who they were, what they did. I imagined a family from the past. And I saw them as tailors and clockmakers and inventors. I focussed on a single boy from that family, Athan Wilde, and I let him roam the rooftops, with his friend, Tod. And then I created a villain, a really nasty piece of work the utterly ruthless Colonel Blade, and I set them against each other.
That’s where The Boy Who Flew began. I added loads of other things of course, like adventure, and heartbreak, but it began with the idea of looking at things from a different angle.
First – Take a place you know really well.
It might be your home or your school. Or the swimming pool, or a playground. Or a place you visit on holiday. Now try and look at it from a different angle.
It might be from the sky.
Or an inch from the ground.
Or from underwater.
Or from space.
Now imagine that this place is where you live. If you live in the sky, Are you a bird? An insect? An inventor?
If you live in the water – are you a fish? A mermaid? A tiny water creature?
If you live an inch from the ground – are you an insect? A mouse? A worm?
Imagine the world you now live in. How does it feel? How do you move through it? What can you see? How does it smell? What are the sounds?
Now think about the group you’re part of – Do you live in a family? Do you live on your own? Who are your best friends in this world?
Now you’ve created your character and your world – it’s time to add some conflict. I want you to invent a predator. Someone who either wants to eat you? Or just wants you out of the way.
Take it from there.
The Boy Who Flew is published by Nosy Crow