The idea for Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy came to me one day while I was taking a break from writing my second young adult novel. I was sitting on the sofa and I started to think about museums. I thought about all the grand ones I’ve visited and the smaller stranger ones too. I wondered what would happen if you found something unexpected in a museum, something unusual, something hidden away that you weren’t meant to see. What if, in a vast crumbling museum, you peeked through a keyhole and saw…
I was so excited by these ideas that my break from the YA novel didn’t end for quite some time. Almost a year! I started to write about a boy locked away in an old museum. I wanted to find out where he came from and who might be keeping him prisoner. I was surprised to learn it was a Snow Queen. She swept into the story quite suddenly from the north. I really shouldn’t have been surprised; Snow Queens had been lurking around in my head forever. My mother read us Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen as children many times. We loved it and were terrified by it in equal measure. Also The Snow Queen’s Gerda was always a favourite character of mine. Gerda never gave up on her incredible journey to rescue her friend Kai.
Which brings me to Ophelia. I write in a fragmented way and readers might be interested to know that Ophelia came quite late in the writing process. I had lots of puzzle pieces but no way to put it together. I finally realised that I needed someone to find the locked-away boy. Someone not so brave but very curious, someone with a scientific mind suddenly dealing with a whole lot of messy magic. Enter Ophelia.
As soon as she stepped one foot inside that museum I knew my story was going to be okay. Would Ophelia be able to help the boy? Would she be able to save the world? I wasn’t so sure but I was very excited to find out.
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy means so very much to me. It reignited my love of writing and I rediscovered my love of writing about magic. I hope younger readers and older readers alike enjoy the journey they go on with Ophelia in that strange and wonderful museum.
Karen Foxlee is the author of Brightly’s first Book Club for Kids pick, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. Click here to learn more about Brightly’s Book Club for Kids, discover Ophelia-inspired activities and tips for discussion, and join in on the reading fun.