A few years ago I interviewed up and coming author Kieran Larwood, he had just released Podkin One-Ear, a book that would go on to win the Blue Peter book award. Since then he has gone from strength to strength releasing three more books to date in his Five Realms series.
I managed a really quick catch up with him at this year’s Cheltenham Literature Festival, and asked him about his latest novel, “Uki and the Outcasts”.
Larwood has never been afraid to tackle tough subjects through children’s story telling and he never talks down to his readers, a trait I greatly admire. So having read his latest effort I was interested that Uki included themes of hate crime and racial intolerance, with Uki being targeted and bullied for his different coloured fur. I asked him whether he had consciously reflected some of the world’s current events in his work.
“Yes, I think it’s always on my mind. When I was a teacher I used to see the news and think about how to approach subjects with the children if they asked me about it, so I’m thinking about this when I’m writing.”
In an hour Larwood tells the impressively large crowd (he’s competing with a timelord, Christopher Eccleston is in the room next to us) about his plans for another two Uki books, his inspiring journey to published author, how he escaped the writer’s dip and how he hopes to return to the adventures of Podkin in the future. He ends his talk with the news that there is a possible Podkin television series in the works and he then helps the audience to draw their own fantasy land maps, mine contained plenty of space for dragons.
Larwood then did a book signing, taking the time to speak to every child individually to check if they had anymore questions and seek reassurance that they weren’t too bored. They certainly weren’t because like his books he was thoroughly engaging and honest. A humble and funny presence on stage, his interactive talk certainly kept my 9 year old son rapt throughout.
I wish him all the best and can’t wait to see what happens next in the exciting Five Realms universe.