Bookzilla Book of the Month: Looking For Emily

Competition type: Children's and Young Adult

Start date: 01 May 2023, 09:00

Closing date: 31 May 2023, 23:59

Age group: 9-11, 12-14
Topics: Competitions

We have five copies of Looking For Emily by Fiona Longmuir to be won, thanks to our friends at Nosy Crow. All you need to do is answer the question at the bottom of the page. Entries close on Wednesday 31 May at midnight. All entrants must reside in the UK and full terms and conditions apply.

You can check out our competitions page for other giveaways. To find more great reads for children and young adults, download the Bookzilla book finder app.

About Looking For Emily

When Lily moves from the city to a sleepy seaside town, she's adamant that fun and excitement have disappeared from her life forever. That's until she comes across a door, begging to be snuck through. Inside, she discovers the Museum of Emily. Rooms and rooms full of ordinary objects that once belonged to a seemingly ordinary girl. But who is Emily? Why have her belongings been displayed with such care? Where is she now? And what's all this about a priceless family diamond? Lily, with her new friends Sam and Jay, takes it upon herself to find out. It won't be easy, and someone else may be just as determined to stop them from finding out the truth. . .

Every now and again, you come across a book that grips you so tightly that you can't even put it down to make a cup of tea until you've turned the final page. Looking for Emily is one such book.

Fiona Longmuir skillfully weaves twists, turns, reveals, and surprises through a unique and brilliant story. Get ready to gasp out loud as this whirlwind middle-grade mystery unfolds in a way that manages to be both completely unpredictable and totally convincing. Looking for Emily also has at its heart a deep-rooted admiration for musuems, libraries, true friendship, and strong-willed girls who know their own minds. What's not to love?

Q&A with Fiona Longmuir

What is the strangest museum you've ever visited?

The strangest museum I've ever been to inspired me to write Looking for Emily! Any time I'm on holiday, I like to find a museum to visit. And when I was in Bratislava, I visited their clock museum. It's the oddest little building, as narrow and yellow as a pat of butter. And on the inside it's all windy staircases and flowery wallpaper and the ticking of clocks absolutely everywhere, and I just thought it seemed like something out of a storybook. That's when I started to turn over the idea of a story set in an unusual museum.

Are you more of a Lily (quiet, curious, determined) or a Sam (talkative, chaotic, outgoing)?

I'd love to say that I'm a Sam, but I'm definitely more of a Lily. I'm rubbish at dealing with change, and I can get very nervous in new situations or with new people. I can definitely be a bit stubborn and sulky sometimes! But it's not all bad – I'm curious and imaginative like Lily too. I wrote Sam and Jay to be exactly the kind of friends that Lily needed, which means they have lots of qualities I'd love to embrace more in myself. Jay is thoughtful and forgiving and considerate. Sam is adventurous, she's generous, she's warm-hearted and she's not afraid to be herself 100% of the time. The world would probably be a better place if we could all be a little more Sam!

Do you have any tips for young writers on how to create a good villain?

I think the most important thing for writing a villain is to make sure that they want something, or that there's another explanation for their actions. Most people don't go around being evil just for the sake of it – in fact, the villain probably thinks they're the hero of their story! A good place to start with a villainous character is to think of a quality that really annoys you in other people and then exaggerate it. How would someone behave if they were the most dishonest, or the most selfish, or the most cowardly they could be? I find villains really fun to write, and I think lots of other writers do too.

Looking for Emily is your debut novel – is there anything that surprised you about the process of seeing the book come to life?

The whole experience of having a book published has been the most wonderful surprise. I think the best surprise has been seeing how young readers have reacted to the book. It's been incredible to visit classrooms and libraries and young writers' groups and speak to young people who have enjoyed reading my story. It doesn't feel like such a long time ago that I was sitting exactly where they are now, in the young writers' group at my local library. Some have even sent me letters or drawn pictures or written reviews and that is just the most amazing thing. Of course I hoped that people would read the book and enjoy it but every time I hear from a reader, I have to pinch myself. It's a cliché, but it really is a total dream come true.

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What type of priceless gem is said to belong to Emily's family?

If you are under 16, you can still enter the competition but will be asked to provide an additional contact email for a parent or guardian.