A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Book birthday interview: Kate Ormand interviews Kiran Millwood Hargrave for THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS

Girl-of-Ink-and-StarsTHE GIRL OF INK AND STARS by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.
When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.
But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.
A beautifully written and lyrical story of friendship, discovery, myths and magic – perfect for fans of Philip Pullman, Frances Hardinge or Katherine Rundell. (more)

“An absolute jewel of a book, as vivid and real and the maps inside it. It’s a classic in the making and I know I’ll be re-reading it again and again.” — Melinda Salisbury, author of The Sin Eater’s Daughter



Title page (proof copy)


Kate Ormand: Hi Kiran! Congratulations on the release of your debut! Can you share the opening line?
Kiran Millwood Hargrave: Thanks for having me! The opening line is:

They say the day the Governor arrived, the ravens did too.

KO: We’ve already seen your casting choices for the book (link) – can you tell us a bit about the main character, Isabella?
KMH: Isabella Riosse is constantly looking to the horizon, wondering what’s beyond it. She’s never been able to leave her island, or even her village, but has this restless spirit that longs for adventure.

KO: If you were forbidden to leave an island, which three books would you choose to keep with you?
KMH: Today, it’d be One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman (the Folio Society edition please!) and Deathless by Catherynne M Valente. All books that transcend the restraints of time and space, and that would allow me to dream. I reserve the right to change my mind if anyone’s planning steal my passport!


(proof copy)

KO: The overall design of your book is incredible – can you talk us through the process of its creation?
KMH: It really is stunning, Chicken House and Helen Crawford White (the designer) have done a beautiful job.

From the beginning, it had to have maps – not only do they instantly situate a reader in the world of a book, but this particular story pivots around cartography and place. So my partner Tom de Freston, who is an incredible painter, sketched out the island for me and I used that to plan Isabella’s adventure and work out the lay of the land.

When it came to the final book design, Rachel Hickman (CH’s design director) was determined to make it stand out. ‘Contemporary classic’ is a phrase I was very happy to spot in one review, because we wanted it to feel timeless and tactile. I’m so grateful for the team’s efforts, and Rachel’s tolerance of me mentioning that ‘star lines might be nice’ in every email I sent last year!

I liased closely with the book designer Helen on the accuracy of the maps, and there was a lot of back and forth about distances between villages etc. I ADORE the special touches of the ships, monsters and star lines (!) on the pages – they add such expanse and scale, and I’m extra amazed that they are in colour. The map flaps are a beautiful touch, though when I went to see the book be bound at CPI I discovered they had made life very tricky for the printers – hopefully they agree it was worth it.

In short, there has been so much effort put into making the book beautiful, and I hope readers find the story matches up to it.


Chapter One (proof copy)

KO: What’s next for you?
KMH: Aside from doing readings and events for THE GIRL OF INK & STARS, it’s all about writing more! I’m just about to start editing my second book with my editor at Chicken House, which will be out next May. GOIAS comes out in the US as The Cartographer’s Daughter in November.

I’m working on three other novels – a children’s book and two books for adults – as well as a play, some poetry, and an opera, which is something completely new for me.

I also have poetry in a graphic novel retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice by Tom, which is out with Bloomsbury in 2017, so I’m refining that. The short answer is ‘more stories’.
KO: And can we end with a quote from THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS?
KMH: ‘A myth is something that happened so long ago people like to pretend it’s not real, even when it is.’


KiranMillwoodHargrave 5

Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Kiran is 25 and writes poetry, plays and novels. She completed her undergraduate studies at Cambridge University, and graduated with Distinction from the Creative Writing MSt at Oxford University in 2015. She is an award-winning poet with three collections published, and her debut play BOAT opened to five-star reviews at Theatre N16 last year. Her debut MG novel The Girl of Ink and Stars will be unleashed from Chicken House’s coop in May 2016.

kate-ormandtwKate Ormand
Kate Ormand is YA author of DARK DAYS and shape-shifter circus series, THE WANDERERS and THE PACK. THE WANDERERS was honored as “Winner” in the “Fiction: Young Adult” category of the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. Kate lives in the UK with her family, her partner, and a cocker spaniel called Freddie. She graduated from university with a first class degree in Fine Art Painting. It was during this course that Kate discovered her love of reading YA books, prompting her to try a new creative angle and experiment with writing. She also writes children’s picture books under the name Kate Louise.

Kate is represented by Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors Ltd. You can see more about Kate and her writing by visiting her website ( or on Twitter (@kateormand).


This entry was posted on May 5, 2016 by .

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