By Jennifer Killick
Like all my stories, Crater Lake was inspired by the places and people I see around me every day, and things and feelings that are familiar to all of us.
It starts with a class of Year 6 children on a coach, on the way to their residential trip at Crater Lake activity centre. The children in the class are ‘normal’ kids in one sense of the word – no magical powers; no secret billionaires; no alternate lives fighting the forces of evil – there are children like them in classrooms everywhere.
They’re also, as all children are, unique in their skills, talents and quirks, and they all have a story to tell that you might not expect. The activity centre they’re visiting appears to be much like any other, with shared dorm rooms, a dining hall, and an array of daring outdoor activities to enjoy. But being away from home, and somewhere isolated, is an adventure in itself.
To this mix of characters and setting, I added an out-of-this-world threat, with an added twist that would have a huge impact: not being able to fall asleep. If people fall asleep at Crater Lake, they wake up as something… different. I absolutely love sleeping, so the idea of my life depending on staying awake intrigued me. There are worlds of imagination and inspiration open to us when we explore the things that scare us the most.
Taking the everyday and making it extraordinary is my favourite way to start a story. Look at the world around you – the people you pass in the street; the moss-covered rocks on the riverbank; the children excitedly chatting as they get on a coach – and imagine if nothing was as it seemed. Throw in a threat – maybe even your worst fear. Add some chaos. And watch it explode.