He skips every second step when he takes the stairs, taps door handles twice and positions objects in pairs. The problem has become so bad that Felix is on the verge of being expelled from school because the principal has had enough of trying to run the school around his very specific rules. Then Charlie Pye arrives and turns his world upside down. She s grown up with very few rules. She eats cereal for lunch, calls a boat home, and has a very loose interpretation of school uniform. The question is, can Felix ever learn to be wrong when he is so obsessed with being right?
What is your favourite thing about writing books?
My favourite part of being a writer is that I get to make things up and get paid for it! I also love the challenge of trying to be relentlessly entertaining in the way that I tell a story and getting to create characters to take on adventures. The hardest part about being a writer for me is creating characters that I really like and then having to give them problems. In my ideal world, everyone would be happy all of the time, but that would make for some very boring stories!
What is your favourite thing about being a MG author?
My favourite thing about being an author for Middle Grade readers is that they are discerning. As a writer you’ve got to respect them as readers or they won’t go along with the journey you have planned for them. There is no talking down to them or trying to pull the wool over their eyes and this really tests you as a writer. Once you have them hooked, however, you can take Middle Grade readers along for the ride to anywhere and they will come along with you. I also love that MG readers enjoy a good laugh and a rip-roaring adventure, yet they are mature enough to tackle some big issues too.
Why did you choose to write a character with OCD traits?
I think that it is really important for readers to be able to see themselves in the characters of the books they are reading. There are lots of children who struggle with various mental illnesses like OCD and I think that they are unrepresented in stories. I wanted to share Felix’s story as a way of showing readers that they are not alone and as a way of helping other students to empathise with their peers. I’m hoping that once someone has read Double Felix, it will help them to understand people around them who are different to themselves and help them to connect in a really positive, inclusive way.
What is your favourite moment in Double Felix? (Without any spoilers!)
That’s such a hard question to answer! I have lots of favourite moments in Double Felix, so I’ve narrowed it down to my favourite three scenes to write:
1. Chapter Two when we meet Felix ‘improving’ Mrs Lovejoy’s Office – because who wouldn’t enjoy messing up their Principal’s Office!
2. I loved writing the scene where Felix and Charlie visit her ‘home’ as I’ve always wanted to live somewhere like that myself.
3. I really enjoyed writing the scene where Felix wants to get into the Library but the door is locked. The image of his bottom wiggling in the air as he tries to squeeze through the window will never leave me!
Where is your favourite place to write?
If I am writing at home, I love to be cosy. Right now it is winter here in Australia, so I’m under a woolly blanket with my dog at my feet acting like a fluffy hot water bottle and my computer on my lap. I also love to get out of the house and write when I can. Taking my laptop to a local cafe for an hour with a cup of coffee is a great way for me to get some words onto the page. Bonus points if I can avoid connecting to the Internet while I’m there and extra extra bonus points if the cafe is in a bookshop!
About the Author
Sally Harris grew up in rural Australia and after graduating from Cambridge with a degree in Children’s Literature, Sally has been busy writing and working as a primary teacher, in both Australia and the UK. Her first book, Diary of a Penguin-Napper, sold over 10 000 copies and her second book, Ruby Marvelous, has inspired children all over the world to try their hand at cooking exploding finger buns! Sally loves animals, including penguins, and, as she can’t have one of those as a pet, she has found that a dog is definitely the next best thing.