Sibéal Pounder is the bestselling author of Witch Wars and Bad Mermaids and her new series, Neon's Secret Universe, takes us into the alternate and very colourful world of unicorns!
Sibéal's debut, Witch Wars, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize. Bad Mermaids Meet the Witches was a 2019 World Book Day title and a Sunday Times bestseller and has been optioned by Sony Animation. Sibéal has also written Beyond Platform 13, a sequel to Eva Ibbotson's The Secret of Platform 13, and Tinsel: The Girls Who Invented Christmas.
Previously Sibéal worked as a journalist, writing for publications including the Guardian and Vogue Online and was a philanthropy columnist for the Financial Times. Visit www.sibealpounder.com
Neon's Secret Universe (Bloomsbury Children's Books)
Unicorns do exist - but they look nothing like how you imagine! Step into Neon's Secret Universe, a world of colour, magical goo, and unicorns, and find out what happens when the unicorns discover a human girl in their world!
Q&A with Sibéal Pounder
1. What first brought you into writing for children when you created Witch Wars?
I was working as a journalist and writing fiction stories on the side for fun. A lot of my ideas came from things I had dreamed up when I was little, I started remembering it all and writing it down. I'd always wondered where witches lived and I was also obsessed with sink pipes - they were so mysterious! I thought maybe witches lived down the sink. That's where the world of Witch Wars came from.
2. What is your new series, Neon's Secret Universe, about - and how do unicorns come into it?
It's about a girl called Neon Gallup who is on a quest to be as normal as possible when she finds a portal opener to The Uni-verse, a magical realm where real unicorns live. Unicorns are not horses with horns, that's just something they made up to distract humans. They look just like you and me and they are the most magical beings on the planet - they make magic with goo!
3. Do you love or loathe the more traditional glittery unicorns?
I love them! I think it's such a fun idea and I especially love when there is a comedy element. I really love The Naughtiest Unicorn books.
4. Can you tell us a bit about the Unicorn's world?
It's very bright, there is a lot of goo. In the first book, Neon lands in the capital of Lumino. There's so much going on, there's Glittervoles, a famous restaurant that serves Volefizz (a drink with a little vole who kicks and creates the fizz for you), then there's the pet shop called Whiskers & Gloop - the mystery pet goos are a favourite, and we see some of the surrounding areas, like Little Trot with its neon trees and cottages with gooey roofs, but the Universe is huge and there is a lot more to see!
5. We often visit different worlds with your stories, why do you like to make up these other worlds?
I love the idea of worlds that exist, hidden, within our own. I think there's something so appealing about alternative worlds that you might actually stumble upon.
6. Which of your worlds would you visit if you could - witches, mermaids or unicorns?
I'd love to combine elements of them all. I'd love to visit Clutterbucks, the cafe in Witch Wars, and I'd love to then go for some food in Jawella's in Hammerhead Heights (the restaurant inside the giant shark), and I'd love to then spend some time in the Goomart, picking a magic goo, like the Swimming Pool of Doom goo.
7. Can you tell us a bit about the Unicorn's world?
It's very bright, there is a lot of goo. In the first book, Neon lands in the capital of Lumino, there's so much going on, there's Glittervoles, a famous restaurant that serves Volefizz (a drink with a little vole who kicks and creates the fizz for you), then there's the pet shop called Whiskers & Gloop - the mystery pet goos are a favourite, and we see some of the surrounding areas, like Little Trot with its neon trees and cottages with gooey roofs, but the Universe is huge and there is a lot more to see!
8. Who is your favourite character in Neon's Secret Universe?
I think it would have to be Suzette, the squirrel made of sprinkles who owns Glittervoles. She's magnificent.
9. Which of their magical goo would you bring home?
Definitely the little monster goo that runs around squeaking FEED ME BRAINS!
10. What do you think of Sarah Warburton's illustrations?
I am in awe. It's such an honour to work with her, she's a genius. Her interpretation of the world is just so beautiful and funny and clever. There is so much detail, I see new things every time I look at them.
11. What's next for the unicorn universe, and Neon?
Book 2 is out next year and let's just say there is more goo and weirdness and a lot of Unicorn Hunters...
12. When and where do you prefer to write?
I love working in the morning or very late at night when it feels like the world is asleep. I usually work at the kitchen table - proximity to snacks is very important!
13. What are your favourite escapes from your desk?
I love long walks and taking my laptop to my local coffee shop. And I love going to comedy shows when I can.