She got her first publishing deal aged 26 and went on to write three more novels for Bloomsbury. She took a break to have three children and during this time taught Creative Writing and also a Children’s Literature course for the Open University.
The Boy who drew the Future is her fifth novel and she’s recently finished writing her sixth. She is a National Trust writer in residence at Sudbury Hall and the Museum of Childhood. She currently lives in Rutland, the smallest county in the country, with her family and their two very lively spaniels.
You can follow Rhian on twitter on @Rhian_Ivory and on Facebook.
How did you start writing?
Rhian: ‘I’ve always written but it took my Year 9 class to push me into sending my first novel off. It was happily found on the slushpile and I was offered a two book deal by the commissioning editor.
I’ve always loved children’s books and was an avid reader as a child. We had a mobile library that visited Llangynidr, the village I grew up in. I was lucky enough to have a big reader for a mum and she took my brother and I to libraries and bookshops regularly. I also devoured the school library which was pretty well stocked.
There’s something magical about children’s books, more possibilities, more suspension of disbelief and almost always a sense of hope which appeals to me as a reader and as a writer.’
Why did you write this book?
Rhian: ‘Because I wanted to explore the way in which history can repeat itself and how people can be linked across the years by sharing something special like a gift. I wanted to look at what happens to children who are different, who don’t fit into the mould and have something extra to offer. I am fascinated by history, witches, the workhouses and all the stories and secrets these subjects offer.’
What did you find out in your research for the novel?
Rhian: ‘When I had the rough idea for the storyline for Noah and Blaze, I wanted a place to set the story in. I’ve always been drawn to strange village names and was looking at a map of the UK when I saw Sible Hedingham. About halfway through the novel, I decided to make sure that this village would be big enough to have a school and work out which roads Beth and Noah would live on. One of the first things I came across when I began researching the river was a link to an old court document and a local newspaper headline – The Sible Hedingham Witchcraft Case. I read on avidly making notes and discovered that the last witch in England was swum in the river Colne at Sible Hedingham. Not only that but it was a man rather than a woman, he was French and he was deaf and dumb but made his living by drawing pictures of the future! I nearly fell off my chair. I couldn’t believe it. The court cases and historical documents really helped my story develop and allowed me to imagine just what life would have been like for Blaze in Sible Hedingham in the 1860s.