Michelle Harrison will have readers rethinking their preconceived notions of fairies in 13 Secrets. She is also the author of 13 Curses and 13 Treasures which won the prestigious Waterstone's Children's Book Prize. The 13 Treasures Trilogy was inspired by Michelle's extensive research on fairy lore and her love of classic children's books. Michelle lives in Oxford, England.
Three Questions for Michelle
Where did you get the idea behind 13 Treasures?
There were two things that brought the idea together, firstly something I remembered from when my youngest niece, Tanya, was a baby. My sister had been to see a medium who told her that Tanya would grow up to be 'very psychic'. Secondly, I fell in love with the idea of a dangerous and naturalistic fairy world when I was introduced to the work of artists such as Brian Froud and Arthur Rackham when I studied illustration. And so the idea of a girl who had the gift - or curse - of seeing fairies was born.
The book is packed with fairy lore and myth — did you do a lot of research?
Yes, I began researching fairy lore both on the internet and in books - I now have a good collection. It was through my research that I learned of the beliefs people held of fairies, in particular the methods they used to try and protect themselves - such as wearing the colour red. I wove many of these things into Tanya's story, along with the legend of the thirteen treasures, which I adapted to make my own.
How did you become a writer?
I read constantly, which I think is important for anyone who wants to write. Being a reader and loving stories made me want to be a writer. I began by writing short stories when I was about fourteen, and even kept a diary for a couple of years. I allowed a few people to read the stories, and entered them into school and eventually college newsletters as I grew in confidence.