Writing is what Ross Welford does best. It’s his job and his purpose, though he says he doesn’t need to write to stay sane — he’s “dead happy lying by the pool, sipping a cold beer and reading something that someone else has written.”
All the same, Ross has always worked with words in one form or another — magazine journalist, TV producer, etc. Recently, he added middle-grade author to his resume. “I came to writing books fairly late in life because, I guess, I never thought I’d be any good at it, and it seemed like such hard work,” he told Cracking the Cover.
Ross’ novel, “Time Traveling With a Hamster,” (Oct. 4, 2016) tells the story of Al Chaudhury who receives two gifts on his 12th birthday — a hamster and a letter from his dad, who died four years ago. The letter directs Al to a time machine in the secret bunker of their old house. Al is instructed to use that machine to travel back to 1984 and stop a go-kart accident involving his dad. If Al succeeds, he could prevent his dad’s death.
When he started writing “Time Traveling With a Hamster,” Ross just started writing. He never thought, “I’ll write a middle-grade book.” He didn’t even know what middle grade — or YA for that matter — was.
“I was actually a little surprised when my UK publisher said it would be aimed at 9+ years,” Ross said. “Because of its length, I thought it was older, despite the fact that my own kids had swallowed Harry Potter whole by that age. Now I’m sticking with MG for a while because it seems a bit daft to try to establish a name in another genre before I’m properly established here.”
“Time Traveling With a Hamster” was born out of two separate things. First, came Ross’ interest in the “Grandfather Paradox,” which states that time travel cannot be possible; otherwise you could travel to the past and murder your own grandfather before you were born. And second, the time machine itself. “I used to pass a tumble-down shed on my daily dog-walk and imagine that it led to an underground room,” Ross said. “That’s where the idea for Al’s secret bunker came from.”
And while you’d think that the hamster from a book titled “Time Traveling With a Hamster” was there from the start, he didn’t show up until Ross was halfway through his first draft. “I realized that Al was going through this massive adventure largely alone and I wanted him to have a companion,” Ross said. “A dog was my first idea, but too obvious. Also, I wanted it to be easily transportable. It could have been a gerbil, or a rat, or a rabbit for that matter, but for some reason a hamster seemed right.”
All protagonists have to grow somehow, and Al is no different. “The lonely, shy kid who discovers inner strengths is a perennial favorite, and Al fits the mold,” Ross said. “With each new challenge, he’s forced to be braver until he’s got nothing left to lose: he has one final all-or-nothing chance to get what he wants, and that — to me — is very exciting. Those final chapters almost wrote themselves.”
You’d think someone who’d written about traveling back in time would want to do the same if given the chance, but for Ross it’s more about moments than big events.
“I’d quite like a glimpse of the far future just to satisfy my curiosity, he said. “But as for the past — not really. That said, my favorite scene in the (rather underrated) film ‘About Time’ is when Bill Nighy, who is about to die, can choose one last time journey and he a chooses a walk on the beach with his small son. Even remembering that scene now has brought a lump to my throat. So maybe I’d do that: pick a handful of perfect days and re-live them.”
Learn more about Ross Welford and “Time Traveling With a Hamster” by reading the complete transcript of his interview with Cracking the Cover.
Visit the other stops on the “Time Traveling With a Hamster” blog tour:
Cracking the Cover — Sept. 26
Mommy Ramblings — Sept. 27
Comfort Books — Sept. 28
Oh! For the Hook of a Book — Sept. 29
I’m Shelf-ish — Sept. 30
Royal Legacy Reviews & More — Oct. 3
Mrs. Yingling Reads — Oct. 4
Parajunkee — Oct. 5
Eclectic Bookworms — Oct. 6
The Children’s Book Review — Oct. 7
As They Grow Up — Oct. 11
Quite the Novel Idea — Oct. 12
Confessions of A Readaholic — Oct. 13
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile — Oct. 14
The Hiding Spot — Oct. 17
Fandom Monthly Magazine — Oct. 18
Feed Your Fiction Addiction — Oct. 19
YA Books Central — Oct. 20
Swoony Boys Podcast — Oct. 21
The Boy Reader — Oct. 24
© 2016 – 2017, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.