The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

“You could travel to places you could never have imagined, see worlds on the edge of the multiverse. You could watch blue suns rise over mountains of red glass, see flowers the size of houses, hear the crunch of the ground as dragons hatch from hidden caverns …” (The Strangeworlds Travel Agency)

Thank you for speaking to PaperbarkWords, L.D.

Where are you based and what is your background in writing?

I live just outside Sherwood Forest in the UK, which is where I’ve lived all my life. I’ve always written things since I could hold a pencil – I used to love writing about a frog who had a little aeroplane she would fly to go visit all her friends! But I also studied Creative Writing at university, for my BA and MA.

Your description of the Strangeworlds Travel Agency shop is a wonder-filled introduction. What most appeals to you about the store?

I really wanted The Strangeworlds Travel agency to feel like somewhere that’s been loved, and things that have been loved don’t necessarily look perfect and pristine. Flick describes the store as looking like a teddy that’s ‘had all its fur loved away’, and that’s something I adore about the setting. It’s been handed down through generations, added to and mended, but the place is still the same, still serving the same purpose. It made me happy to create somewhere so loved and comfortable, where there was safety and family amongst the danger and adventure.

What type of magic does your book explore?

When you jump into one of the many suitcases stacked around the walls of The Strangeworlds Travel Agency, you are transported to another world. Each suitcase contains a schism – a tear in the fabric of the world – that allows you to jump from one world to another, and back again as though it’s a door. Magic in The Strangeworlds Travel Agency is a form of energy, just like heat or light. It is used for casting spells in some worlds, and just drifts about unnoticed in others. There is a magical test to pass to join The Strangeworlds Society, and Jonathan is particularly surprised when Flick passes it with flying colours!

Could you introduce us to your protagonists Flick and Jonathan? What are their problems when we first meet them and how do they grow and change?

Flick and Jonathan are more similar than either of them would like to admit. Both of them are putting on brave faces, for different reasons, both of them are trying to be more grown up than they actually are. But where Flick shows this by being capable and wanting a plan, Jonathan’s struggles are masked by his sarcasm and cutting remarks.

When we first meet Flick, she is struggling with the weight of responsibility she has to take on at home, and the feeling that she is very much stuck in the tiny village she has just moved to. She wants to see the world, but doubts she will ever be able to do so. But it is her wanderlust that spurs her on to join The Strangeworlds Society, and to explore further than she ever dreamed.

Jonathan is also struggling with responsibility, though is in denial that he needs any help. He is also hiding a secret, which Flick uncovers as the story goes on…

What plot thread propels your story forward?

There are a few threads of plot in this book. As it is the first in a series, not everything will be resolved and tied up neatly by the end of the first book – there’s a lot of story still to come! But Flick and Jonathan’s real problem in this book is the growing number of problems in different magical worlds. Things are not as they should be – blizzards are hitting in summer, streets are disappearing, and when they reach the City of Five Lights, they discover that the problems extend across the multiverse, even putting our world in danger. And it is up to the two of them to try and put things right.

What is your favourite creation within one of your worlds?

I love the magical magnifying glasses that are part of The Strangeworlds Society’s kit. They are very precious, and very special. If ordinary people look through them, they see nothing interesting at all. But when someone like Flick looks through a Strangeworlds magnifying glass… she can see something magical, hidden from ordinary eyes.

Have you started writing book 2 and what teaser can you give us from this story?

Book Two is written, and being edited at the moment. It was amazing fun to write, and I’m very excited for you all to read it! I can tell you that Flick and Jonathan receive a summons from the world of The Break – a place of magic and piracy. Everyone gets very wet!

What are you reading and enjoying at the moment?

I’m reading Frances Hardinge’s Deeplight at the moment, and enjoying that so much. I’m going to start Maria Kuzniar’s The Ship of Shadows next, which looks wonderful.

How can your readers contact you?

I’m on Twitter and Instagram @ldlapinski, and online at ldlapinski.com!

Young fantasy readers will immerse themselves in Strangeworlds and rush to follow Flick and Jonathan into its magical worlds. All the best with The Strangeworlds Travel Agency, L.D.

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency is published by Orion Children’s Books (Hachette).

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