On Monday, April 3rd, I interviewed Jonathan Auxier, author of novels Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes, Night Gardener, and Sophie Quire & the Last Storyguard. After helping myself to a plate of fish and chips, I grabbed a seat and pulled out my recorder. Auxier took a sip of his hot chocolate and introduced himself, “I write strange stories for strange kids.” After asking him a few questions, I learned that his novels were inspired by stories he read and loved when he was younger. One of his favorite books he read was Watershipped Down by Richard Adams. Auxier even named his own daughter Hazel after the main character in that book.
Auxier shared insight into the slow process of writing a book, “It is quite a battle to get through a first draft.” Before he even started writing The Night Gardener, he spent a lot of time conducting research and learning about Victorian England. Auxier also said, “I spend a long, long time figuring out character names. I can’t write a character until I have their correct name.” He was determined to complete his novel and spent nine years total writing and revising before publishing. When asked what he would tell his young writing self, Auxier said “This will happen for you and it is going to take a lot longer than you want it to.”
Auxier incorporates certain elements into every one of his novels. If you have read The Night Gardener, you may remember coming across the words kettle and scop. For some reason, he favors these words and they reappear often in his writing. Auxier also uses one rare word which is unlikely to be found in dictionaries. He stands out in yet another way as an author; he steals one line from a book and throws it among his own writing. Also in The Night Gardener, you may find a familiar line from The Little Princess. I think Auxier’s writing decisions are interesting and appeal more to readers. Now, I am inspired to read all of his novels to find the hidden lines taken from other authors, and even start writing myself.