More books by Kit Downes
PublisherWalker Books Ltd
Publication date7th June 2012
Children's Author 'Like-for-Like' recommendations
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Zal and Zara and the Great Race of Azamed
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Selected by Julia Eccleshare:
Join the fantastical flying carpet race in this magical adventure novel from a debut author. Pacy, exciting and full of humour, it’s a timeless story combining good versus evil, a breathless race against time and two protagonists who must overcome their differences to succeed. The colourful, vivid setting of the mythical Arabian city of Azamed captures the true spirit of the classic One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.
Who is Julia Eccleshare ?
SynopsisZal and Zara and the Great Race of Azamed by Kit Downes
The Great Annual Carpet Race is fast approaching, and in the ancient, bustling city of Azamed there's talk of little else. The competition is strong, and twelve-year-old Zal Thesa and Zara Aura know that to win, their carpet will have to be the best. If only they could compete on a rainbow carpet! But as everyone knows, they only exist in legend ...don't they? When Zal and Zara find the beginnings of a trail to discover the magical truth behind the stories, so begins a fast-paced contest of their own. With the Great Race only a day away and the sinister Shadow Society on their backs, time is not on their side...
About The Author
Kit Downes was 19 when he finished his first book, Zal and Zara and the Great Race of Azamed. He was struck by the idea of telling the story of the greatest magic carpet race in the world while having lunch in Hay-on-Wye. He began writing the book the same day and finished it four months later in his first term at University. He finishes university in 2008 and lives in Norfolk.
Find out more about the author and his debut novel - Zal and Zara and the great Race of Azamed:
1. From where did you draw your inspiration for the story?
I can't name any one particular or special thing that gave the inspiration. Z&Z grew out of a collection of smaller ideas that were floating around the edges of my mind. Then, over a few weeks in 2005, they came together and formed this sentence: "The greatest magic carpet race in the world". The book grew from there.
2. Did the idea of giving colours of the rainbow different strengths to help a carpet to fly come early on or did the idea develop after you’d started the writing process?
The rainbow colours and their partner magic-colours came quite early on, but during the planning and note-making stage, when I asked myself how a magic carpet would work and how it would be made. As I wanted to write a colourful and magical book, the rainbow seemed perfect for both.
3. Zal and Zara initially at least have very little in common, are very different characters and have different interests and yet the carpet race brings them together and the reader feeds off their individual strengths. Was this something you specifically worked to do in the story or did it just happen?
Yes, this was 100% intentional. At its heart, Z&Z is about Zal and Zara; much more than it is about magical cities, flying carpets and evil ghosts. The story is about their friendship and how important it is (even though it takes them a while to realize it!)
4. Did you sketch out a rough plan for your novel or did you put pen to paper at chapter one and leave the novel to develop in its own way?
I always plan before I start writing. Writing any kind of story is like going on a journey; unless I know where I am going, I cannot get anywhere. I have a notebook full of details of what Azamed is like, and pages upon pages of notes about Zal and Zara (and Rip and Haragan and Qwinton and all the other characters); describing everything from their favourite food and their favourite colour to their worst ever birthday presents. Not all of it got written into the book, but it is always helpful to know the characters really well.
5. Will there be further novels featuring these two characters?
The sequel is already being written.
6. Which writers do you think readers of Zal and Zara may also enjoy?
Difficult question as no two people ever read the same book in the same way. The best way is to judge no book by its cover or its title.
7. Who are your favourite writers and how have they inspired your work?
I do not have a favourite author; as there are simply too many that I like a lot. I believe that while not every writer can inspire you; you can learn from anyone, so I am always open to reading new books.
8. What advice can you give would-be children’s authors in getting published?
I would say worry about writing a good book before you worry about publishing it. That is the best way. The most important things are a great idea, good characters and a sound plot structure; everything else will follow from that. Too get started in publishing; find a good literary agent; they will help enormously.
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