What If? – a guest post by Alice M. Ross - Nosy Crow Skip to content
Posted by Lisa, March 15, 2023

What If? – a guest post by Alice M. Ross

This month we’re absolutely delighted to have published The Nowhere Thief – a mind-bending multiverse adventure about theft, family, and finding your home by Alice M. Ross. And today, we’re very excited to be sharing a guest post from Alice!

I’ve started playing a fun game on school visits when I go to talk about my debut children’s fantasy, The Nowhere Thief. I call it the ‘what if’? What if you discovered that your wardrobe didn’t have a back to it and you could just keep walking and ended up in a snowy forest? What if there was a secret school for witches and wizards that you’d never heard of before? What if everyone had a spirit animal called a daemon that they couldn’t get separated from or they would die? What if you could steal things from other worlds?

No prizes for guessing the first three ‘what if’s – but the fourth one is mine, and that’s how The Nowhere Thief began. I always knew I wanted to write about other worlds, also known as the multiverse, so I was trying to think of interesting ways to do that. I thought: what if you could travel to other worlds and bring things back with you? What would you do with those things? Well, I thought they’d probably be pretty interesting things, so you might be able to sell them. What if you already lived in an antiques shop, giving you the ideal place to profit from your crimes? That’s how Elsbeth came into being: she steals things from other worlds to sell in the struggling antiques shop she lives in with her mum. I also knew I wanted to write about a seaside town: one that’s a big sleepy but built on magical energy lines, a bit like Lewes in East Sussex. So I created Lewesby, where Elsbeth and her Mum live. It’s in a world very similar to ours, but not quite the same: the capital city is called Lunden, for example, and I hint that history didn’t quite go the same way as it did in our world.

I always loved the idea of other worlds and was thrilled to discover when I was studying philosophy at university that people have actually studied this concept, so I actually wrote an essay on it as homework, which was probably one of the more fun assignments I’ve ever done. But I decided it would be more fun to write stories about other worlds, rather than study the scientific possibility they existed, so that’s how The Nowhere Thief came about.

I am a journalist by profession, so my career has been in writing, but (good) journalists have to make sure that what they’re writing is true, and it’s very fun being able to break those rules and write things that aren’t true – without getting fired!

One fun thing about being a fantasy writer is that you can invent all sorts of things but particularly animals. In The Nowhere Thief one world that Elsbeth visits has animals called chamchas in it: sort of like flying cats that fold up their wings along their back when they’re sleeping. One of the chamchas that Elsbeth meets helps her to piece together an important piece of the puzzle after her Mum goes missing. You can see a picture of the chamcha on the front cover of the book.

Also in the book we see versions of the same person in different worlds, and I love the idea that someone might be a slightly different version of themselves, depending on what’s happened to them and how they grew up. Something to explore in future books!

During the book Elsbeth has time to have a good think about what she’s been doing and what sort of person she wants to be, especially when she’s confronted by people that would like her to be different. So it’s also a book about deciding who you are and working out what and who is important to you. I loved writing it and hope you enjoy reading it!

Thank you, Alice!


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