Q&A Session with Nick Ward - Winner of Stockton Children’s Book of the Year 2021!

As voted by pupils across Stockton-on-Tees, The Night’s Realm by Nick Ward has been announced as the winning book of Stockton Children’s Book of the Year. Joined by a strong shortlist including The Girl Who Stole An Elephant by Nizrana Farook, The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay, Nevertell by Katharine Orton and The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates by Jenny Pearson. Pupils across Stockton-on-Tees, voted for The Night’s Realm by Nick Ward their Stockton Children’s Book of the Year.


The Night’s Realm is a chilling story full of tension and unpleasant characters. The illustrations, especially of the Crawlers, are very sinister and add to the uneasy atmosphere of the book. Suspenseful, exciting and gripping – are you brave enough?


We put Nick in the uneasy situation of answering questions from our pupils:


What inspired you to write ‘The Night’s Realm’?

It has always struck me that the world at night time is a completely different place to the world during the day. Colours fade to grey, shadows deepen and lengthen, and nocturnal creatures scuttle and scamper about.

Because of this, it can be a scary place. You can’t quite see what is happening in the shadows, and noises make you jump and your heart race. The night is such a different place, almost an unknown world,  and I thought it would be great to set a story there. 


What age do you think the book is best for? It is quite scary.

Yes, it is a little bit scary, although Billy and his friends do overcome their fears. I think 8 to 10 year-olds would enjoy this story the most.


Where did you get your ideas for the characters? Are any characters based on real people?

Billy, I think, is based on the memories I have of myself as a ten-year-old. I was always scared of new situations, like starting a new school or meeting new people, and had to fight hard to overcome my fears.

Billy’s best friend, Tom, was based on my best friend as a child, a boy called Paul Jeffs, and the creepy old shopkeeper was based on a grumpy man who used to run a sweetshop near my house. He was always in a bad mood and seemed to dislike all children, viewing them suspiciously as if they were about to steal a solitary gob stopper!

The dark Magician is simply the personification of the night and all the scary things in the world.


Where did you write ‘The Night’s Realm’?

Most of the story was written in my little work hut at the bottom of my garden. In the summer I can sit inside with the doors open, listening to the bird song and with the sunshine pouring in. Quite the opposite to the night-time setting of my story. But my imagination could soon whisk me away to the land of the dark Magician.


Have you written any other books?

Yes, I’ve written lots of books – picture books and story books. My most popular picture book is called Don’t Eat The Teacher! And I wrote a series of fiction books under the pen-name of Charlie Small, which tell the crazy adventures of an eight year-old boy who has lived for four-hundred years. The first book in the series is called Gorilla City, and there are lots of other titles in the series.

I also have a brand new book, just published, called, Will Jakeman’s Marvellous Mechanimals. Check it out, if you can. It’s great fun!


Are you scared for the dark?

I would like to say no, I’m not scared of the dark. I’m much too old for that. But, if I am walking home late at night along country roads with no street lighting, the slightest noise can make me jump. The hoot of an owl sounds like the moaning of a ghost and the yap of a fox can send the hair bristling on the back of my neck. That’s when I walk a bit faster and my heart begins to pound. So, perhaps I am scared of the dark!


Who is your favourite character from the book?

Billy has to be my favourite character – he’s so brave despite his fears. I also like Lightning, as she is kind, resourceful and also very brave. And I have a soft spot for the revolting witches. They are sort of scary and funny at the same time.


 How did you come up with the idea of a new realm?

I’ve always loved stories that transported me to new places. The Narnia books were big favourites of mine as a child, and The Wind in the Willows world of Ratty and Mole is still one of my favourites. Any book that created a world, real or imagined, that was different to the world I lived in would hold my attention.

I wanted to try and create a world that felt real, with its own noises and smells and rules, where absolutely anything could happen to the heroes of my story. The realm of the night seemed a great place to write about.


You can find all copies of all our shortlisted titles available across all library branches in Stockton-on-Tees and also online via Libby.


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