Trouble Next Door is the first novel in a brand new series for 5 – 7 year olds from Chris Higgins. A charming story about two little girls navigating a new friendship will appeal to young readers and adults alike...

Telling the story of Bella – who has just moved house and is feeling a little bit lonely – and Magda – her new next door neighbour – Trouble Next Door takes readers on a friendship journey which young readers are sure to recognise and want to discuss. Bella is a good girl, she’s quiet and thoughtful. Magda is bold and outgoing and always looking for laughs – it just happens that sometimes that causes trouble and it’s certainly not Magda who gets the blame…

What starts out as a story of unlikely friendships, quickly blossoms into the kind of adventure story I remember I liked to read when I was little. It’s not about children in a fantasy world (although I love those stories too), it’s about real children – I can certainly see my younger self as Bella and could easily identify which of my friends was most like Bella – and the little adventures they go on every day. Whether that’s making new friends (one of the greatest adventures) or making mischief (a particularly excellent type of adventure) there’s a lot of fun to be had reading this novel and we think there’ll be hours of discussion to be had with your little readers.

Trouble Next Door is funny, insightful and witty – a excellent book to share – the excellently comedic mishaps of Bella and Magda are sure to raise giggles and there’s plenty to inspire young readers who are just making new friends. The novel celebrates the joy of childhood and the idea of friendship and reminds us that no matter who we are sometimes what we need most in the world is a friend and comes thoroughly recommended.

Trouble Next Door is out now, published by Bloomsbury

To celebrate the publication of Trouble Next Door, we caught up with Chris Higgins to discuss the joy of writing for children.

1. What’s your favourite thing about writing for children?

So many!

The chance to be silly. The opportunity to play with words. The enthusiasm of the audiences at events. The bizarre questions they ask. Their absolute loyalty and the way they see nothing odd in re-reading your book again and again and again. Their total critical honesty. Seeing an illustrator “get” your story and bring the characters and settings to visual life.

2. We think that Trouble Next Door is going to be a book that gets discussed a lot after reading – particularly by younger readers with their adults, especially because the two central characters are so relatable to children. How important do you think discussion time is to the story reading process?

Discussion time is really important because young readers relate everything to themselves. They are constantly learning about the wider world and books have a huge part to play in discovering different kinds of behaviour and experiences from a safe place. Trouble Next Door throws up lots of issues about friendship and honesty and how your actions have consequences and affect other people and it’s good to talk about these as they crop up.

But I must admit, I didn’t consciously set out to do this! I just concentrated on writing as good a story as possible.

3. Here at Literature Works, we think the South West is a great place to find space to write. Could you describe a typical writing day for you?

Living at the most westerly tip of Cornwall, I am as far South-West as you can get and I live right by the sea. I am lucky enough to have the most wonderful view of Mounts Bay from my writing room window.

My perfect writing day would be, get up, don a wetsuit, and go off stand-up paddle-boarding, or supping as it’s known, out in the bay. An hour later I am at one with the world and raring to go. I write for about 5 hours without stopping, the first 2 hours spent revising what I’ve already done, the next 3 carrying on with the story. After that I get on with the rest of my life.

But that’s the perfect day. On a typical day life intervenes. I’m a wife, mum to 4, nana to 7 young grandkids, sister, auntie, friend, and so-on. Things often gets in the way, as indeed they should. But I’m proud to say I’ve never missed a deadline yet!

4. If you could offer new writers trying to enter the children’s market one tip for getting their first novel published what would it be?

Write about what you know.

5. Can you give us a hint about what’s next for Bella and Magda?

Trouble at School, out August, 2017. In this book, Bella and Sid start at their new school. Magda is Bella’s new very best friend but in this book she meets lots more new people, some nice and some naughty. But don’t worry. Magda will soon sort them out.

Thank you Chris!