Fiona Longmuir

Freya's Gold
Fiona Longmuir

About Author

Freya's Gold by Fiona Longmuir is a mystery story about a secret tunnel, hidden treasure and a community fighting to save its town.  

Fiona was born in Paisley, Scotland. Shortly after, she picked up a pencil and never really put it back down. She writes stories about stubborn, oddball kids, having had a lot of personal experience in this area. Fiona now lives in the Irish countryside with her brilliant partner.



Freya's Gold  (Nosy Crow)

June 2024

Freya's Gold is an exciting, pacey adventure about secret tunnels and hidden treasure, but it's also a story that explores community, feelings of belonging, and being brave enough to do the things that make us feel scared.

Review:  'A wonderfully exciting and engaging adventure quest.'   Read a Chapter from Freya's Gold

Fiona Longmuir tells ReadingZone more about Freya's Gold, what inspired the story, how she uses her childhood love of puzzles and inventions in the story, and about the real life setting that helped her develop the town of Edge that features in Freya's Gold and her debut, Looking for Emily.  (Her favourite dog also makes an appearance in this short video!)

Q&A with Fiona Longmuir, introducing Freya's Gold

"Young people are just as passionate as us grown-ups and their voices are just as powerful. As some
of the adults in Freya's Gold discover, you underestimate them at your peril!"

1.    Hi Fiona, thank you for joining us on ReadingZone. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself - what was your dream job as a child, what kinds of books you read and what got you started in writing for children?

When I was a little girl, the first thing I remember wanting to be was an inventor. I was obsessed with the wild contraptions in movies like Casper and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Indiana Jones, and spent lots of time trying to make contraptions of my own. I loved it so much that I gave this talent to my main character, Freya - although she's much better at inventing than I ever was!

I write the kind of books I like to read. I love reading stories about grand adventures and my favourite adventure stories also have lots of little cosy moments in them. I think books like the Pages & Co series and Time Stops for No Mouse strike this balance so beautifully. Time Stops for No Mouse has been my favourite book since I was ten years old - it has absolutely everything I like. I also love to read stories about friendship and people finding their place in the world, so it's no surprise that friendships are a huge part of the books I write too.

I've always loved writing stories, so being an author is an absolute dream come true for me.
My favourite thing about being an author is hearing from readers, whether that's in letters or drawings, or in the visits I do to libraries and schools. Young readers are so sparky and creative, and I always feel full of inspiration after getting to spend some time with them.
When I'm not writing, I work for the Institute of Physics, helping people to understand what physics is and how it shapes the world around us. It's a really fun job and I love showing people that physics and science are for all types of people.

2.    What happens in your new book, Freya's Gold?

Freya's Gold tells the story of Freya, who lives in her granny's B&B in the sleepy seaside town of Edge. Freya and her best friend Lin love to search for treasure on Edge's sandy beach with their metal detector but they avoid the town's dark cliffs and twisting smugglers' passageways. It'd be easy to get lost in there and sometimes, when the wind blows, Freya is sure she can hear voices echoing from the rocky caves.

Then a stranger unexpectedly checks into the B&B in the middle of the stormy off season and soon, everything that Freya loves about Edge is under threat. Freya needs to face her fears and try to strike gold before time runs out for her town.

3.    This book has puzzles as well as a mystery to crack - what draws you to writing mystery stories, and creating puzzles to solve? Are you a puzzle-solver yourself?

I've always loved puzzles! From wordsearches to sudoku to crosswords, I love anything that gets your brain working in a new way. There's a magic moment in all puzzles where there's a little click in your brain and you can suddenly see how it works and how to solve it. It's amazing, like a light being switched on or suddenly being able to understand a language that you couldn't before. Like Freya in Freya's Gold, I've always ben fascinated by how things work.

I love reading mysteries but I'm terrible at guessing how they're going to end! I always seem to make a thousand guesses and still manage to get it wrong somehow. But I don't mind, it means I get to be surprised by all the twists and turns.

"Lots of the stories I've written have been inspired by a strange, unusual or beautiful place I've been to."

4.    Like your earlier book, Looking for Emily, Freya's Gold is set in a seaside town. Why do you choose this kind of setting - are the seaside towns based on somewhere you know? Do you feel you need to know your settings, or prefer to imagine them?

My grandad lived in a seaside town in Scotland called Troon, so I spent a lot of my childhood there falling in rockpools and eating chips on the sea wall while getting horizontally rained on. Lots of the stories I've written have been inspired by a strange, unusual or beautiful place I've been to.

Also, when I wrote Looking for Emily, I mentioned that Edge had secret tunnels underneath the town, so I just knew I had to write another book where we got to explore those.

5.    What do you love - and perhaps love less - about seaside towns? Are there any specific places you love to visit / write about?

My second favourite thing about the seaside is that it feels sort of magical, like something strange could happen at any moment. You have caves and rockpools and mermaids and sea monsters…not to mention the towns themselves with their bric-a-brac shops and old arcades. I love seaside towns that feel as though they've been there forever. Sometimes, walking along an old pier, it feels like you're looking back in time.

My favourite thing about the seaside is the doughnuts.

"I really do believe that things like culture and community are so, so much more important than money."

6.    You also explore how communities can be destroyed through gentrification and development. Is this something you feel strongly about, and do you see it happening around you?

It's something I care lots about! I lived in London for a long time, and we saw it all the time there. Businesses that had been open for 20 years or families who had always lived in an area who just couldn't afford it anymore.

Quite often, it feels like it's the things that make a place feel different or special that end up being squeezed out. As Freya says in the book, what's the point in making everywhere feel exactly the same? And I really do believe that things like culture and community are so, so much more important than money.

7. The children in the story are also activists - do you feel everyone has a part to play in their communities, whatever their age? Are there any young activists that you drew on for inspiration for these characters?

I definitely think everyone can play a part in their community. I meet young people all the time who are speaking up for the things they care about, whether that's making their school a more welcoming place for all students or taking better care of our planet.

All of us have different interests and skills, so there are so many ways we can take care of each other and make the world a better place. Young people are just as passionate as us grown-ups and their voices are just as powerful. As some of the adults in Freya's Gold discover, you underestimate them at your peril!

"Changing the world can be hard and scary, and it's okay to find it hard and scary! The important thing
is to take a big deep breath and do your best anyway."

8. Through the story, Freya grows in confidence as she faces each challenge. What would you like your readers to take from Freya's adventures?

I really want readers to take away that you don't need to be the loudest or most confident person in the room to make a difference. Changing the world can be hard and scary, and it's okay to find it hard and scary! The important thing is to take a big deep breath and do your best anyway.

Freya never stops feeling nervous but she finds that with a little practice, she's able to do just that - take a deep breath and try. We sometimes talk about confidence as though you're either born with it or you're not. But it's no different from learning a language, playing the flute or riding a horse. Some people might find it easier than others, but we can all learn how to do it with a bit of practice.

9.    What kinds of adventures do you enjoy the most in your own life?

I live out in the countryside so my absolute favourite thing to do is to pack a bag with loads of snacks and take my dog for a big walk somewhere we haven't been before. I love not knowing what I might find around the next corner. Snacks and good company are adventure essentials.

10.    And where do you like to go to write your children's adventures? What are your writing currently?

I went on my first ever writer's retreat last winter, where I got to spend a whole week in a beautiful big old house with a forest and a lake outside and that was absolutely amazing. If I could write somewhere like that all the time, I would! But I never know when inspiration is going to strike, so I write in all sorts of places. I've written chapters at my kitchen table and in the park and on my phone on the bus. I always carry a notebook with me to jot down fun things I see or ideas that pop into my head.

I'm working on a couple of different ideas just now. I'd love to write something a bit spooky, so maybe that'll be my next project. And of course, I'd love to return to Edge in a future story. We saw it in autumn in Looking for Emily and winter in Freya's Gold…it would be lovely to see what it's like in summer!



Discover Fiona Longmuir's debut, Looking for Emily  (Nosy Crow Books)

Looking for Emily is an adventure story with a mystery at its heart - why is there a secret museum dedicated to a girl called Emily at the heart of a seaside town?   When Lily moves house to a new home beside the sea and a town, Edge, where nothing ever seems to happen, she feels miserable and lonely. However, when she stumbles across a mysterious museum in the town, a new adventure and unexpected friendships emerge. 

Read a chapter from Looking for Emily                Q&A with Fiona Longmuir


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