Josh Lacey

Time Travel Twins: The Stone Age Clash
Josh Lacey

About Author

Josh Lacey's Time Travel Twins series (Andersen Press) takes its readers back in time to explore different periods in history, including the Romans, Vikings and Stone Age times - with further stories to come.

Josh has also written the Hope Jones Saves the World series, and The Island of Thieves, Bearkeeper, The Dragonsitter and the Grk series. He previously worked as a journalist and he lives in London with his family.



Time Travel Twins:  The Stone Age Clash (Andersen Press)

May 2024

Step back in time with The Time Travel Twins series, thrilling adventure stories that show us how people really lived in the past, including the Vikings, the Anglo Saxons, the Romans and now the Stone Age, with further books to come.

When twins Thomas and Scarlett travel back in time with their Grandfather's time travel machine, they arrive in separate places, giving us two important and often very different views on the time they have travelled to. 

In The Stone Age Clash, the latest book in the series, the twins discover that other early humans also lived at this time, alongside the woolly mammoths and terrifying sabre-toothed tigers; and they get a glimpse into how Stonehenge might have been built!  We find out more from author Josh Lacey in this month's ReadingZone Q&A.

                    The Viking Attack                                                 The Roman Invasion                                           The Stone Age Clash

Q&A with Josh Lacey, introducing Time Travel Twins and The Stone Age Clash

"When we think about historical events, we often see things from only one side, or we instinctively divide the story into
goodies and baddies, us and them.   I've written about a pair of twins, Thomas and Scarlett,
who each end up on different sides of a story."

1.    How did you become a writer, and what kind of books do you enjoy writing?

I became a writer in the usual way: by reading. I read anything and everything, and when I started writing, that was what I wrote too. Plays, poems, whatever. It took me a long time to discover how much I love writing children's books.

2.    What happens in your new Time Travelling Twins series, and the latest book, The Stone Age Clash?

The Time Travel Twins is a series of historical adventure stories with a simple idea at the heart of each book: "There are two sides to every story."

When we think about historical events, we often see things from only one side, or we instinctively divide the story into goodies and baddies, us and them. I've written about a pair of twins, Thomas and Scarlett, who each end up on different sides of a story.

In the first book, for instance, which is called The Viking Attack, Thomas sails towards the shore with some bloodthirsty Vikings, preparing to launch an attack, while Scarlett helps the Anglo-Saxon villagers to defend their home against these terrifying invaders.

In The Stone Age Clash, the Time Travel Twins return to two different periods in the Stone Age: first forty thousand years ago, when woolly mammoths and Neanderthals still roamed alongside Homo Sapiens; and secondly five thousand years ago. On both occasions, they return to the same place: the site of Stonehenge.

3.    What gave you the idea to follow a pair of time-travelling twins back in time, and how well do they work together?

I was thinking about the idea of "two sides to every story", and wondering how to explore that in a book, and I thought twins would work brilliantly. The twins actually spend most of each story apart. They meet at the beginning and the end, but they have separate trajectories in the middle of each story. I devote alternate chapters to each twin.

4.    How do you choose which times to go back to, and what is your focus when you're describing each period?

I have chosen times and themes that children study at primary school, and particularly the eras which are recommended in the Key Stage 2 history curriculum (ages 8+). There are many great non-fiction books available about the Vikings, the Anglo-Saxons, the Romans, etc, along with a host of interesting resources online - but very little fiction. Which is why I wanted to write these books.


5.    How much of the books is true, and how much do you make up for these settings in place and time? Does your research help to shape your stories?

All the historical information and background is accurate. I make up some characters, although other characters are real. Both Boudicca and Emperor Claudius appear in The Roman Invasion. In The Viking Attack, we meet a boy called Alfred, who will later become King Alfred the Great.

I've done a lot of research for each book, and I don't start writing until I know about the history. The facts definitely inspire the story.

6.    How do the (fabulous!) illustrations by Garry Parsons help support the stories, and how does he get the details right for each period?

I love Garry's illustrations. I've worked with him quite often now. He illustrated all ten books in the Dragonsitter series. I particularly like his images for the Time Travel Twins. However, I don't know how he manages to get the details both so exciting and so accurate. You'll have to ask him!

7.    How can teachers and families use these books to help children learn about these periods? Can you suggest any activities to use with these books? 

There are many different ways that these books could complement the study of history. In The Stone Age Clash, the twins create objects inspired by their learning. Thomas makes a stone axe and Scarlett builds a model of Stonehenge. Readers could do something similar.

Another activity would be to imagine that you're accompanying Scarlett and Thomas into the past. You climb the steps that lead into the time machine. You walk through the doorway. You travel through the wormhole to the time of the Vikings, the Romans, or the Stone Age. And - what happens next?

Or you could be inspired by Garry's drawings, and make some artwork of your own. Each book has a map, and you could draw maps of your own, showing the locations of key events and places.

Each book has a historical note and some suggestions for places to visit. Maybe you could visit these places, or research them on the internet. If you're studying the Stone Age, for instance, you could discover more about Stonehenge.

8.    How do you think today's children would cope in the past? What would they find hardest to manage?

I think today's children would cope extremely well in the past. I would be more worried about today's adults!

What would be most difficult about returning to the past? Probably the smells. People didn't wash themselves or their clothes very often. The food would also have been very different from ours, mainly because we have such a wide choice of foods, flown or shipped every day from across the world. In the past, people mostly ate whatever they could grow themselves, and so they were limited by the local landscape and weather.

9.    Of course we also want to know, if you could join the twins in their grandfather's time-travel machine - would you go? And where and when would you want to visit?

If I was going to travel to the past, there are so many times and places that I would like to visit, it's hard to pick one. But if I had to, I would choose London in 1601. I would like to meet Shakespeare and see the first performance of Hamlet.

10.    Do you have further adventures planned for the time-travelling twins? 

The next book in the series will be set in 859 again, but this time the twins will return to Central America. To the extraordinary city of Tikal. The book is going to be called The Maya Sacrifice.

...And what are your favourite non-time travel escapes from your desk?

I love getting out of the city and walking through a forest, up a hill, or along the beach, accompanied by my dog.

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