Today on the blog I am delighted to share with you one of the stand out middle grade debuts of the year, ‘The Strangeworlds Travel Agency,’ by L.D. Lapinski. I was totally slayed by the very first line, which talks of places in the world where magic gathers, from this first moment I was completely swept away by this truly incredible adventure. When Flick stumbles upon the Strangeworlds Travel Agency and the mysterious owner Jonathan, she discovers something truly extraordinary. Hidden within the many suitcases inside, are fantastical worlds waiting to be discovered. But Flick soon realises everything is not as it seems, dangers are lurking in these worlds which threatens the very fabric of the multiverse. She must find a way to fix the catastrophic problem of the worlds collapsing and destroying ours in the process.
I was totally captivated by this original and thrilling tale. The world-building is just remarkable with each suitcase containing a new land with carefully imagined details and rules. You can see the amount of imagination and thoughtfulness that has gone into every creation, it is truly incredible. Flick and Jonathan are the most sublime characters each struggling to find their places within their worlds whilst also battling this danger that threatens their very existence. You can see why they’re drawn together both having responsibilities to bear beyond their years, Flick having her younger brother to care for, while Jonathan has the weight of being the guardian of this secret society. This is a marvellous adventure packed with thrills and spills that is bound to entertain readers looking for something a little bit different that will transport them to new and exciting worlds. Sublime characterisation meets epic world-building in this shining debut from L.D. Lapinski. I can’t wait for the next Strangeworlds adventure.
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency – L.D. Lapinski
I get asked a lot where ideas come from, and honestly, I wish I knew. I hoard ideas, I always have. Not all of them are great. A lot of downright odd, but I hang onto them anyway, just in case. If the best ideas are butterflies, most of mine are squashed-looking caterpillars that haven’t any hopes of even reaching the chrysalis stage without a lot of help. And that’s fine! Some ideas just wriggle around for years without going anywhere.
Some, on the other hand, burst into being so quickly that you find yourself trying to chase after them before they escape altogether. And that is what The Strangeworlds Travel Agency was like.
When Strangeworlds arrived in my head, I’d just finished the first draft of a (now abandoned!) YA novel. I wasn’t very happy with it, and had been trying to think for a while about how to fix some of its problems. I wasn’t thinking about a new book, and definitely not about anything middle-grade!
I was washing my hair when The Strangeworlds Travel Agency crashed into my head. I knew, as fast as clicking my fingers, what the travel agency looked like, what the magical suitcases were and how they worked, and how they were made. I knew what about the place was secret, and I know what would be known by lots of characters. I’ve definitely had more dignity than I did that day, throwing myself out of the bathroom in a panic to get to the laptop before the idea flew out of reach forever. I don’t even think I was completely dry when I started typing, and I wrote the first ten thousand words of the first book that day.
Looking back, the ‘idea’ for Strangeworlds is really just the result of being a child of books. I’ve always loved middle-grade and fantasy books, portal fantasy especially. I adore books with secret societies in them, and with imperfect characters who get on one another’s nerves. I’d written stories where characters go to other worlds before, but the concept of using suitcases to get there was something I’ll never be able to completely explain. I can only look back thankfully that I was privileged and fortunate enough to be surrounded by books from the day I was born, and that I’ve had the space and freedom to have time just to allow ideas to develop, even if they’ve taken years to get there!
The Strangeworlds Travel agency is the result of a lifetime being in love with stories, and I desperately hope that it will become part of another child’s lifetime of reading and falling in love with stories. And that it brings them an escape, now more than ever.
Thank you to L.D. Lapinski for this really interesting guest post, I’m always intrigued to discover where writers get their ideas from.
Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more reviews and guest posts.
Thank you to Dom and Hachette for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a gifted copy of this fabulous adventure. ‘The Strangeworlds Travel Agency,’ is available to buy online now or from any good bookshop.