My new book, The Wizards of Once, is my first new book series for 18 years, since I started writing How to Train Your Dragon. I was inspired by British Iron Age hillforts, and old stories of magic. I wanted to explore a lost time where magic was still alive, but slowly being squeezed out by a more rational, scientific world.

Cressida Cowell

Cressida Cowell

My imaginary Iron Age is where giants really did stride through the wildwoods, and where my girl and boy heroes from opposing Wizard and Warrior Tribes ride on enormous snowcats, and a band of sprites and hairy fairies that follow them everywhere.

People always ask whether I like the How to Train Your Dragon films. The answer is yes, I love them – they are true to the spirit of my books, even if the plot is different at times. I’ve been hugely lucky with the DreamWorks team, who have worked on both movies, and are making the third film at the moment. DreamWorks have also acquired the rights to adapt The Wizards of Once

I believe passionately in the absolute necessity of getting kids to read for pleasure, and I’ve been an Ambassador for the National Literacy Trust for over 10 years. Reading for pleasure is one of only two proven factors in your child’s academic and economic success (the other is parental involvement in education).

I’m also very interested in getting kids into the creative industries. We should be more vocal about the value the creative industries bring to this country – over £86 billion in 2015.

I’m often asked whether I would like to write for adults (as if somehow writing for children is second best). The answer is that for me, writing for children is the greatest privilege on earth. Children are interested in the truly important things in life: heroism, wilderness, our relationship with the natural world, death, love, spirituality, adventure. As adults we can get confused by trivialities. Children are focussed on the essentials.

I illustrate my books as well as write them – often readers don’t realise this, and as it takes quite a long time I like to shout about it when I can!

A fun fact about me is that I went to school with Charlie and Lola creator, Lauren Child. My daughters played Lola in the TV adaptation.

I grew up partly on an uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. There was nothing on this island: no car, no electricity and no way of contacting the outside world. It was the 1970s, when parents threw the kids out of doors and told them to come back when they were hungry. I read a lot, wrote stories and drew. What unimaginable liberty…

My favourite part of being a children’s author is when families tell me they read my books together. Books read to you in your parents’ voices live with you all your life.

The Wizards of Once, by Cressida Cowell, is published on 19th September, £12.99