The Moonlight Dreamers and its sequel Tell it to the Moon follow four girls: Amber, Maali, Sky and Rose on their quest to follow their dreams and find themselves. I really enjoyed these tales of friendship and, for me, they were reminiscent of films I love such as Now and Then, and Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Many friendship stories follow girls who grow up together, or go to school together but it was refreshing to see that there is friendship outside these confines. These were both really charming and enjoyable stories and perfect reads for feel good vibes.
I have been lucky enough to interview author Siobhan Curham and her four characters to find out a little more about how the Dreamers came about and where they are shooting for next.
How did you come up with The Moonlight Dreamers Club?
I was really tired of being picked on by the numbskulls in school for being different. Just because I have two dads, who happen to be gay, and just because I like to dress in vintage men’s clothes, it doesn’t mean I deserve to be picked on. I don’t understand why being different is seen as such a bad thing. Being the same as everyone else is so boring. I came up with the idea for starting a secret society called The Moonlight Dreamers because I wanted to meet other people who didn’t want to fit in; other people who craved excitement and adventure. And I was inspired to do so by my hero, Oscar Wilde.
Why do you like Oscar Wilde so much?
Because he was proud of being different. He came out at a time when it was really hard to be openly gay – he even went to jail because of his sexuality. He lived life on his terms and he was a great writer. I have a collection of his quotes that I always use for inspiration. It’s impossible to pick a favourite one, but one of my favourites is this: ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.’
How are belonging to The Moonlight Dreamers and belonging to a religion comparable and different?
Being a Moonlight Dreamer and being Hindu both make me feel happier and more secure in myself and my life. Both of them bring me loads of joy. They’re different in that my faith feels like a more personal thing, something I often do on my own – either meditating or praying to my favourite goddesses. And the Moonlight Dreamers is a more of a social thing – and usually way more noisy – especially when Rose gets going! I feel so blessed that I’ve been given such awesome friends.
Why is the idea of finding a soulmate so important to you?
I’ve always been a true romantic. Even when I was a little girl, I loved making up stories in my head about marrying a prince and living happily ever after. I love the idea that everyone has a soul mate out there waiting to be found by them. The trouble is, when I feel like I’ve found mine I turn into a jabbering wreck! I wish I could be as confident as Rose or Sky – or just not care about love, like Amber. But sadly, I’m a stumbling, stammering disaster area when it comes to boys I like! I say and do the most embarrassing things. I’m starting to worry that even if I did meet my soulmate I’d make him run away – or die laughing … and not in a good way!
If you ever imagined having a sister what would she have been like?
After my mum died, I really wished I had a sister – or brother – who knew exactly what I was going through and could share the pain. Whenever I imagined having a sister I’d imagine someone quite like me – like, into poetry and nature and travelling and stuff. But then I got Rose as a step-sister and that blew all my imaginings out of the water. When I first met Rose I hated her so much I was really glad I’d been born an only child! It’s so funny now, thinking of how much I hated her back then. Now I’m a Moonlight Dreamer it feels like I’ve got three sisters – and I wouldn’t change them for anything.
What did you really think when you saw the invite to The Moonlight Dreamers Club?
I was a little bit weirded out by it but thankfully I was so intrigued I replied anyway. And I really liked the look of the girl in the vintage store who put the invite in my bag. She really intrigued me. It’s so weird thinking that she’s now one of my best friends! That was a really important lesson for me – that if something seems weird or scary but it makes you a bit excited too, you should go for it. My life has changed so much for the better since replying to that invite.
If you ever imagined having a sister what would she have been like?
I have three sisters. My Moonlight Dreamers are my soul sisters – the best kind of sisters. The kind you’d tell anything to and even lay down your life for. And I’d lay down my life for all of them, no question – even though Sky’s been pissing me off a bit lately, since she’s found true lurrrve.
What does The Moonlight Dreamers club mean to you?
Everything. My girls keep me sane – something my parents on their Planet Celebrity, definitely do not!
How did you come up with The Moonlight Dreamers?
I love encouraging young people to believe in themselves and their dreams as this was something I really struggled with when I was a teen. I gave up on my writing dream and dropped out of uni because – coming from a poor family on a council estate – I didn’t think I had what it took to make it in the middle class world of writing. Thankfully, I found the confidence to overcome my doubts and fears and now I want to stop other people from making the mistakes I did. I created the Moonlight Dreamers because I wanted to show how hard it can be to navigate your journey into adulthood but, with the help of friends, a hero like Oscar Wilde and some self belief, anything is possible. In the second book, Tell it to the Moon, I really put the characters to the test because it was equally important for me to show how sometimes dreams don’t come true – but if you keep the faith, something even better might happen. This is exactly how it’s been for me in my life. Disappointments, difficulties and unachieved dreams have always led to bigger and better things.
What’s more important – Dreams or Belonging?
What a great question! Would it be cheating to say, they’re both equally important? It’s so important to have a sense of belonging – in your own skin and in the world – but sometimes, when that’s missing, a dream can be what saves you and ultimately leads to that feeling of belonging. I think maybe they go hand in hand.
What’s next for the girls?
I would love to write a final book about them when they’re seventeen / eighteen. I’ve loosely sketched the idea out in my mind – Amber on an Oscar Wilde inspired gap year, Sky going off to uni, Maali in her final year at school and still, no doubt, searching for her soul mate, Rose blazing an entrepreneurial trail and causing a riot somewhere. It would be great to see the Moonlight Dreamers start to make their way out into the world as adults. I’m also considering writing a screen adaptation because so many readers have told me that they’d love to see it filmed … and offering to help with the casting! I’d love that too – it would be a dream come true.
Huge thanks to Siobhan and the Dreamers. Count me in the ‘would love to see the books filmed’ camp too. Thanks to Katarina from Walker for sending me Tell it to the Moon (which publishes this month). Moonlight Dreamers had already called to me and was already on my TBR pile. Opinions are, as ever, my own. Have you read the books? Tell me what you think?
“Face it, Zizi. You’d be lost without your make-up and your girly clothes.”
“And you think ‘feminine’ is a dirty word. You’re the one who’s never going to change, Loretta.”
“You want to bet?”
When Loretta and her best friend Zizi make a life-changing bet, one thing’a for sure: the summer is about to be turned upside down.
Before you two were friends how would you have defined feminism?
Loretta: I would have defined it like this: Feminism is self-defense.
ZiZi: You see what I mean about Loretta, right? Everything gets exaggerated! How I would’ve defined it is: Wannabe guys with a limited sense of humour and not a lot of patience.
Describe your style.
Loretta: Immune to the pressures of a fashion industry that wants you to buy something new every week so it can make more money. And immune to the pressures of a society that thinks it has the right to tell you how to dress. Utilitarian and comfortable, but with colourful socks.
ZiZi: Fashionable and feminine, but (now) with practical shoes. When I look in the mirror I want to smile.
What do you admire most about the other?
Loretta: ZiZi’s unique. She may look like Miss Congeniality, but she’s opinionated, stubborn and for definite has a mind of her own. And she makes me laugh.
ZiZi: With Loretta, what you see is pretty much what you get. And what you get’s a real friend. Plus she has a great sense of humour, and if you get a flat tyre on a lonely road, she’s the girl you want next to you.
What do you think would be the hardest part of being a boy?
Loretta: In some ways, there are as many restrictions on guys as there are on girls – they’re just different restrictions. All that competition and pressure to Be a Man. And, as ZiZi would say, you can’t even go shopping or put on your favourite dress and those outrageous earrings to cheer yourself up.
ZiZi: Having to wear boring clothes. Plus having to be tough and strong when really all you want to do is going under the duvet and cry.
Are you more like Loretta or ZiZi? In what ways?
I’m probably more like Loretta. I often have the impression when a contentious topic comes up and I clear my throat that my friends are all wishing I wouldn’t say anything.
Describe your writing style.
That’s a question I’ve never been asked before. But, judging from editor and copy-editor comments I’ve had over the years, I’d say it’s idiosyncratic.
How many ways of being a girl do you have?
I don’t do the stilettos or the makeup, but otherwise I think I cover the range. I own both a food processor and a drill.
What I thought?
This was such a fun read and I loved the characters of Loretta and Zizi and especially their friendship.
I found this a really accessible way to look at gender and feminist issues through the set up of a bet.
More Than One Way to Be a Girl takes a slightly lighter hearted view of similar themes to that in Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club series and is perfect for the 13+ age group it’s aimed at. Relationships with boys feature, and believe me I shared Loretta’s annoyance when her relationship with her colleagues changed.
MTOWTBAG is out now.
I also had fun recreating the cover for #bookstagram, and below is a picture of me after checking my tyre pressures. Let’s just hope I never manage to put oil in the brake fluid ever again?! *disclaimer – this happened a long time ago.
The second book in the Alfie Bloom series – Alfie Bloom and Talisman Thief was released on the 2nd June. For my spot on the blog tour I have an interview with the author Gabrielle Kent and a review of both books in the series.
When Alfie Bloom inherited a castle and a centuries-old magic, his dull and lonely life was changed forever. But Alfie’s new life has come with dangers he never could have expected. When Ashford the butler is kidnapped in the middle of the night, the castle comes under threat from a terrifying enemy. Trapped inside with only his twin cousins and best friend Amy, it’s up to Alfie to defend his inheritance and prevent a terrible fate from befalling the whole of England!
Gabrielle has worked in and around the videogames industry since the mid 90’s. She currently teaches games development at Teesside University where she directs and presents Animex, a week long festival of games and animation talks and events bringing young people together from all over Europe to hear from world leading studios.
Gabrielle has written and contributed to a number of articles and broadcasts on gaming and is a regular judge on the Games BAFTA awards. She has been named one of the Top 100 most Influential Women in the games industry several times, and recieved a Woman of the Year award from MCV magazine.
In her spare time, Gabrielle writes books for children aged 8+. Her Alfie Bloom series has been published across several continents.
Is there an interesting story behind the origin of Alfie Bloom?
I have always adored castles and still remember visiting Alnwick Castle on a school trip thirty years ago. There was a medieval festival taking place in the market square at the time, little did I realise it would make its way into my books decades later! I came up with the idea for Alfie Bloom in 2006 when I visited Castle Coch in Wales. In one of the rooms is a carving of The Fates above a fireplace. I imagined talking to them and hearing my destiny. I suppose, in a way, they really did talk to me – they told me I’d write a book. As I made the long drive back from Cardiff, an idea for a story flew round and round my head, growing bigger and bigger. By the time I got home I was ready to start writing about the boy who inherited a castle.
When you were a child, what were your favourite stories to read?
Magical realism! When I was little I was sure that fantastical creatures and magic were all around us if we just knew where to look and I loved books that backed up my beliefs by setting magic and fantasy in our own world. I still do.
Do you write better in a specific place (i.e. office, bed, café…)?
I fidget a lot! I start writing at my desk, but move around the house a lot, then I start visiting the fridge for snacks. I find that the best place to actually get a lot of writing done is at a library. I like Liverpool Central library but it can be very loud so I always take noise-cancelling headphones.
Who is your favourite character in the Alfie Bloom series?
I adore Artan, the flying, talking, pun-loving bearskin rug. What better flying carpet than one that can talk to you and tell terrible jokes while you’re flying
If you could live in any fictional world ever, which one would you choose?
I always thought Xanth from the Piers Anthony novels seemed a magical and wonderful place to live with so much to discover. I’d like to live in Castle Roogna and travel into the magical tapestry that hangs there.
Do you have any odd writing rituals (i.e. writing in the dark, only at 3am, only after four cups of coffee…)?
I always light a candle while I’m writing. Fig, blackcurrant and woody scents are my favourite. I brew a pot of popcorn green tea and choose one of my favourite spotify playlists. Usually: Through the Woods, Deep Dark Indie, or The Far-North Folk.
There is a lot of mystery and magic in the Alfie Bloom books, do you know how everything works?
I do, and it takes me a long time to write because I like to have everything clear in my head. When I wrote the first book I was a bit unclear on what Alfie’s magic was and how it worked. and it caused me many problems later on as it became rather confusing for my proof readers. As a result I went back and clarified it, but it did involve quite a bit of rewriting!
What is your favourite aspect of the magic in Alfie Bloom?
Very little comes easily in life, so I like to show that magic also comes with consequences. As Spiderman’s Uncle Ben once said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. The powerful magic that inhabits Alfie is always hungry to feed. Alfie must learn to control it and to exercise restraint in using it.
What I Thought?
Thanks to Faye Rogers and Scholastic I was introduced to this series and provided with copies of both books to review. Opinions are my own – as ever.
I really loved this series and its characters and raced through both books, and will definitely head back for a re-read when the next book comes out. I find that I do sometimes struggle with middle grade books feeling too young (as a 37 year old that’s not really surprising), but, for these books that wasn’t a problem at all. I was definitely hooked when the carriage from Muninn and Bone came calling. Although they work well for the intended age group 8-12 there is much for readers of any age to enjoy. This series has been compared to Harry Potter and there are some similarities – the fabulous cast of characters, joy and ease of reading and magic but it is also very different.
In ‘The Secrets of Hexbridge Castle’ poverty stricken Alfie finds out he has inherited a castle… and a ‘bit’ of magic. The only thing he will miss by moving is his best friend Amy, but his castle is in the village occupied by his dead mother’s family so he gains his twin cousins Robin and Madeline as friends, and Amy comes to visit. Together they explore the castle and its many rooms, secret passages and dangers. Alfie’s new school Wyrmwald House seems to be led by two Miss Trunchballs!! Something sinister is happening in the village and Alfie is driven to use his magic.
One of the things I liked is the idea that magic isn’t necessarily fun and simple to use and that it does come with responsibilities. Alfie isn’t necessarily that happy with the power he has been given and it will be interesting to see how he handles this as his experience grows. Alfie reminds me a little of Roald Dahl’s Charlie Bucket – he is very generous and kind-spirited.
Like Gabrielle, Artan the flying bearskin is my favourite character and his puns did make me giggle.
In ‘The Talisman Thief’ we find out more about Ashford the butler that was assigned to look out for Alfie and his father – thankfully because William – Alfie’s dad, a rather eccentic inventor – really can not cook. I can’t say much without spoilers but Ashford isn’t maybe what you might have expected. Hexbridge is invaded by fae and it’s up to the children to save the day.
Alfie’s school isn’t a magical one and his magical training comes via letters, deduction and trips between times. The rural village setting of Hexbridge is perfect to contain the magic and mysticism and I loved that the villagers follow old pagan festivals.
To summarise – read these books – to your kids if you have them – or to yourself if not. There is much more I could say and many more characters to meet but I’d much prefer you to find that out for yourselves.
Do also check out the rest of the blog tour.