Nick Stella's first novel, A Giant’s Trek, focuses on themes of individuality and pursuing your dreams, emphasising the importance of embracing your uniqueness.

Why did you decide to write a children's book?

When my kids were younger and cuter than they are now (sorry boys!), I used to enjoy telling them ad lib stories about anything from misbehaving worms to giraffes driving around in cars, which I can now see comes from my obsession with Richard Scarry books when I was young.

As I have had a life-long love for fantasy and adventure, giants eventually made it into the story-telling mix, and kids being kids, they demanded an uptick in the danger, excitement and laughs with each telling. It quite quickly became a struggle to remember what was happening from one telling to the next and so I started to write it down. From that point to the date of publication was a dream come true.

What inspired you to write A Giant’s Trek?

A love of reading. Everything from the cover artwork, illustrations and maps and even the smell of the book (is that weird?) inspired me to have a go. I didn’t know what I was doing when I started scribbling in biro in that 64-page exercise book all those years ago, but being completely ignorant of the processes of the entire publishing industry seemed to have worked in my favour. If I knew about word counts, writing for different age groups, rewrites or pitches, I may have seen the whole thing as a mountain too high to climb. But I continued, learning as I went and I came out alive on the other side with a book in my hand.

Did you have any personal experiences that contributed to this new book?

Sadly, the closest I have come to going on a dangerous quest is visiting the supermarket on a Saturday afternoon. Having an enraged giant swinging a club at me sounds like a lot more fun than crowded carparks and out of control shopping trolleys!

What do you hope your readers will take away from A Giant’s Trek?

To live your own life and follow your own dreams. Regret weighs heavily. To do away with what you want to achieve if it seems too hard or if someone else steers you in another direction may be something you look back upon with regret. Trying, even if you are not successful is better in the long run than not trying at all.

A Giant’s Trek is your first novel. Can you give us any insight into your writing process?

For A Giant’s Trek, there was no process. It consisted of me, sitting beside a swimming pool while the kids did swimming lessons or in a guitar studio where they had music lessons with a biro in my hand, scribbling in an exercise book.

I have learnt a lot since then. I now plan a lot more, deciding on what sort of journey the characters will take and how it will change them and what they will learn. I lay chapters out like stepping stones, moving from one to the next, filling them in as I go until I reach where I want to be.

And then I go back through it from start to finish, more times than I ever remember, polishing it, ironing out inconsistencies and trying to make the story as engaging and immersive as I possibly can.

This story includes some important topics for young readers. Touching on the challenges and excitements of writing about these topics, what was it like to write about acceptance, perseverance, and being seen as different?

Different is an interesting word as we are all different in our own ways. Are any of us perfectly rounded pegs that fit into perfectly rounded holes? I know I’m not and that’s something I relish, as a difference is something that can be unique.

I enjoyed writing a character like Ash who was different to most other giants both physically (he was shorter and had a limp) and in the way he thought and what he wanted out of life. The story had him coming to accept that even though he wanted something different from the norm, his dreams were still valid.

Do you have any other projects in the works?

Writing is a hobby that I enjoy. I have been busy tapping away (no more exercise books and biros) and have written a number of stories for middle grade readers. They have been a great joy to write and sincerely hope that I will have the chance to share them some day.