A Guest Blog from Kiran Millwood

KiranMillwoodHargrave 5A huge hello to Kiran Millwood from all here at GHB . Not only is Kiran a poet and playwright, she’s a novelist, too. Her debut book, ‘The Girl of Ink and Stars’ published this month. Kiran’s going to tell you how she literally stumbled across the idea for her book. Away you go Kiran.


The most common thing people say to me after learning what I do is:

‘A writer? Cool.’

If the conversation progresses, they will quickly be convinced I am anything but. I usually write in bed in my pyjamas, slurping herbal tea. I like pop music and Pitch Perfect and cats.

Pitch Perfect

And if you met me, I guarantee you’d be disappointed. I’m not dark and mysterious, or witty and pretty – I’m quite normal really, even with my abnormal love of cats – which, I suppose, is common amongst writers. But one thing that is cool about me is how I got my idea for The Girl of Ink & Stars.

Picture this: you’re trekking through a thick forest, forging your own path (this may be because your dad forgot the way, but hey). The ground climbs and drops beneath your feet, gouges carved by long-ago eruptions. Tunnels formed by lava lurk under the ground, big enough to walk through (your dad tells you about this in detail because he is a geologist, but it gets boring so you stop listening after the word ‘lava’).

Me in a lava tube on our next visit.

Me in a lava tube on our next visit.

Suddenly, you reach the edge of the land: a cliff that drops rapidly to the sea. Jagged rocks spike through the foaming waves, and you have to fling out your arm to stop your dad plummeting to his certain death (he also forgot his glasses). And there, in front of you, is a blood-red sunset, tinged with gold. The sun is sinking into a glittering sea, and as far as you can tell it goes on and on forever.

Can you picture it? Because that, right there, on a cliff on a tiny island called La Gomera, is where I got the idea for my book. I looked at the view and thought, what must it have been like to live here, before you knew where ‘here’ was? Before planes or trains, and before there were German tourists with GoogleMaps to find you and guide you back to the hotel?

That’s when Isabella Riosse was born. Isabella, the mapmaker’s daughter, standing on the side of a volcano staring at what – for all she knew – could be the edge of the world. It made me realise that stories can be found anywhere. Even, or perhaps especially, when you’re lost.

And if you don’t think that’s cool, tough. It’s all the cool I got.

The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

We think that’s cool! We also think it was lucky for your Dad. If you hadn’t been there and saved him it could have been a  different story. 

If you’d like to meet Isabella Riosse, The Girl of Ink and Stars, then go to our competitions page now, where Kiran and her publisher are giving away TEN copies in a free to enter competition.

Girl of Ink and Stars

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