Book of the Month: Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Dwarves of Doom
Roger is just an ordinary boy, in an ordinary world - or so he thinks, until a grumpy dwarf warrior, Mossbelly MacFearsome, appears out of thin air and saves him from the school bully. Right from page one Mossbelly MacFearsome, Captain of the Royal Guard, draws the reader into the fantasy Innerland of dwarves, gorefiends, and pet dragons, as Roger and Moss set off on a daring and dangerous adventure to save the human world.
One of the mysteries of Alex Gardiner’s newest book is why Roger agrees to run away from home and follow this ax-wielding dwarf. Is it because of the luring adventure and Moss’ promise of making things better? Or maybe Roger wishes his dad wouldn’t have to be away from home so much? There is an underlying theme of unusual family relationships including a 30 year-long romantic engagement and a witch adopting a martial-arts fighter.
Subtly, this book also talks about humans and their relationship with the natural world. What seems to be a simple farm field to the human eye is revealed to be a detested source of noise, digging, clanking and banging to the creatures living beneath it – agri-culture is what it is, says Moss. Humans must stop destroying the world or else – but even the benevolent witch concedes that persuading people is difficult.
Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Dwarves of Doom certainly pack a punch - literally and metaphorically - and you won’t be able to put the book down until you know what happens in the end. Will Roger and Moss save the human world?
What was your inspiration for the characters? Were any based on real people?
The idea for the story came first, long before any of the characters appeared. It began with questions that had intrigued me for many years. Why would prehistoric people go to all the trouble of building stone monuments? And why are there so many of them? They’re everywhere. What were they really used for? The explanations (guesses) all seemed rather far-fetched: ritual ceremonies, cosmic observatories, funeral houses, and (my favorite) rubbing stones, for cattle with itchy bottoms.
After years of painstaking research, I solved the puzzle. I discovered the secret of the standing stones, and the real reason they were built. They are all markers! They show where giant ogres are sleeping, just below the surface of the earth. And watching over the giants, and the human race, are the dwarves. Once I had solved the mystery . . . then the characters began to appear!
What was your favorite part of writing this book?
My favorite part was the relationship between the two main characters – the clash of cultures. As the story unfolds, an ordinary boy is forced into helping an extraordinary dwarf warrior and, although a friendship develops, they continually quarrel with each other. I had great fun writing situations where the different cultures caused maximum confusion and trouble for Roger and Mossbelly MacFearsome.
I also enjoyed writing about the disgustingly horrible, but very polite, gorefiends – who are made from the stuff that drips out of coffins.
What tips would you give to aspiring children’s authors?
Read as much as you can, but write something different. Don’t try to make it suitable for children. Write for yourself, something you would enjoy reading. When you’ve finished your story, put it away for a while, then read it again. And once you’ve recovered from the shock of discovering that some parts of it are not quite as good as you thought they were, write it again, and again.
But never give up – there might just be a magical dwarf waiting around the next corner.
For the chance to win a copy of Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Dwarves of Doom, just answer the question below before Monday 28th January 2019: