Gabrielle is the author of Alfie Bloom and the Secrets of Hexbridge Castle. She has worked in and around the computer games industry since 1997 and currently lectures in Computer Games Development at Teesside University. As well as teaching, she directs Animex, the UK's largest Games and Animation Festival. She is a regular judge on the BAFTA Games awards. On three occasions she has been listed as one of the Top 100 women in the games industry and in 2015 was awarded a Woman of the Year award by MCV magazine.
She loves writing just as much as games and is currently working on the third book in the Alfie Bloom series. She dreams of one day writing books in the library of her very own castle.
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1. Tell me about your book.
Alfie Bloom and the Secrets of Hexbridge Castle falls into the magical realism category. It's about a boy who inherits a castle full of wonders, which has been sealed for centuries. Alfie soon discovers that he was born in that very castle, but over six hundred years ago during a magical timeslip. There, Orin Hopcraft, the last of the great druids, hid an ancient magic inside him which others seek, but should never be used. With the help of his cousins, Madeleine and Robin, and Artan the flying bearskin rug, Alfie must learn to control the magic inside him, as well as protecting a dark secret hidden deep below his new home.
2. Who inspires you?
Anyone with a strong creative passion inspires me! I have many creative friends who I admire greatly: Games writer Rhianna Pratchett, Comics writer Jim Zub, Game designer/artist Ken Wong, Composer Austin Wintory – they are all so passionate about what they do and are so brilliantly creative. They have won many awards between them. Watching their careers keeps me inspired!
3. Are you working on anything at the moment?
Right now I am just starting to plot out the third book in the Alfie Bloom series. If it does well, Scholastic might sign me up to write more. If this is the last Alfie Bloom, I already have half a manuscript in progress about a Mauritian girl who goes on an extraordinary adventure. I also have an idea for a much more grown up book that won’t leave me alone until I set it free – so I guess I’ll just have to write it down.
4. Who are some of your favourite authors? Have you met any of them?
My best friend Rhianna is a writer for computer games. I was a fan of her games reviews for PCZone when she was still a games journalist. After we became friends, I realised that she is the daughter of my favourite author, Terry Pratchett. I met him a few times through her and found him to be very intelligent, with a cutting wit, and a great taste in blazers. It was a bit embarrassing when Rhianna first visited my house as the spare room she was sleeping in was full of her dad’s books. I felt like such a family stalker!
Terry Pratchett was also responsible for me changing my name. I had met him long before I became friends with Rhianna at a signing of The Last Continent. At that time I was just about to graduate from university and was considering changing my first name. I was quite gothy at the time, and he found it hilarious to meet a goth with my original first name (I’m not telling what it was). Well, that was the final nudge I needed to make the change!
In the early eighties I met Jan Pienkowski and Roald Dahl at a big book event. I was so excited I was nearly sick.
I have also met Neil Gaiman a couple of times in the last few years, but I was far too shy to talk to him much. I have been a fan of his work since the Sandman comics.
I always kick myself for hardly talking to my favourite authors and game designers when I meet them. They create whole worlds that I adore and that creative power leaves me far too in awe of them to make intelligent conversation.
5. What are some of your favourite books?
It is so tough to shortlist books, my favourites depend on how I am feeling at the time. I would also have to include comics. If my arm was twisted behind my back, I would narrow the list down to:
Nightwatch, Equal Rites, Small Gods and I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
Anansi Boys, Neverwhere and Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman
The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J K Rowling
That’s my grown up list. As a child I had many favourite series:
Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators
Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers, Famous Five and Adventure series
The Hardy Boys
Willard Price’s Hal and Roger adventure stories
The Narnia series
E Nesbit stories
ALL the Roald Dahl books!
Who am I kidding? I still love them all now.
6. Have you always loved writing?
I have, but always did it late at night and then tore up what I had written the next morning. It took me years to accept that you don’t have to be brilliant straight away. If you have a good idea and a strong voice, you can polish the work to a shine later.
My dad knew I had a talent for creative writing and he pushed me to write from the age of six. However, the problem with that approach was that I saw writing as work rather than fun. It was another twenty-five years before I finally had an idea that made me sit down and write, and it refused to let me stop writing! I would have finished a lot sooner if I’d read up on structure first, but some lessons are best learnt the hard way!
Alfie Bloom is just an ordinary boy. Until he receives a letter summoning him to raven-like solicitor Caspian Bone's office. Here, Alfie learns that he has inherited a castle. And through mysterious circumstances surrounding his birth, he has also been entrusted as the caretaker of a centuries-old magic. Unfortunately for Alfie, dangerous forces are after this powerful magic. With the help of his cousins Maddie and Robin, Artan the flying bearskin rug, and Ashford (a rather special butler), Alfie must keep the magic safe from terrifying adversaries and make sure the secrets of Hexbridge Castle stay secret for ever...
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