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Phil Earle ... When The Sky Falls

'When The Sky Falls' is Phil Earle's latest novel, published in June 2021. Chris J Kenworthy, Armadillo reviewer, interviewed the Phil about how a job in a bookshop led to writing children's books, and his inspirations for the novel.

You write books for young readers, and your latest novel is 'When The Sky Falls.' How did you start writing for children and young adults?

It started from getting a job in the children’s section of a bookshop. I wasn’t much of a reader, but was told to read Louis Sachar’s HOLES. It’s fair to say that book changed the direction of my life. It’s the perfect novel.

Why write for young people? What's the appeal for you as an author, and what do you hope they gain from reading your books?

To be honest, I write the books I’d like to read. It’s simply a happy coincidence that they are children’s books.

As an adult, writing for children can be a challenge. How valuable is feedback from your readers?

It’s a joy to receive an email from a reader. To know they might well remember your book as important when they grow up. That they might even pass it on to their kids…

'When The Sky Falls' follows a young boy in a zoo during the Second World War, and his affinity to a gorilla called Adonis. Why did you set your story in a zoo, and what made you choose a gorilla?

The book is based on a true story at Belle Vue Zoo in Manchester, and so I wanted to honour that. I’ve long been fascinated with gorillas, and it felt plausible and exciting to try and build a relationship between ape and boy…

In the story, Joseph interacts with Adonis the gorilla. How important do you think is it for children to experience wildlife, explore the countryside, and discover their surroundings?

I think it’s key to have balance. There’s nothing wrong with Xbox's or PS4’s, as long as you’re getting out and about too. I know it matters a lot to my own health!

After reading 'When The Sky Falls,' your readers may feel inspired to write their own stories. How do you encourage them to be creative?

By keeping your phone in your pocket as you walk down the street. Those stories are out there. But you can't spot them if you’re looking endlessly at TikTok.

There are a lot of children's books set in and around the Second World War. Why do you think it's important for children to learn about the War?

It’s about empathy I suppose. To try and understand what it was like to live in such difficult times. To go without, to be scared, to feel that joy when it was finally over. It’s key to try and not make the same mistakes again too.

The characters in 'When The Sky Falls' felt real and authentic. As WW2 was a long time ago, how challenging was it for you to capture people's emotions during Wartime Britain, and what qualities do you hope to convey to your readers?

Thank you so much! I think emotions are universal. Sadness or loss or elation felt the same eighty years ago as it does now. For me, I think it’s all about empathy. If as writers we can help our readers understand someone else's life and emotions, then that’s wonderful. That would make me tremendously happy.

Thank you so much for telling us about yourself and your writing!


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