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L D Lapinski

L A Lapinski

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency
L A Lapinski

When 12-year-old Flick Hudson accidentally ends up in the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, she uncovers a fantastic secret: there are hundreds of other worlds just steps away from ours. All you have to do to visit them is jump into the right suitcase.

Then Flick gets the invitation of a lifetime: join Strangeworlds' magical travel society and explore other worlds.

But, unknown to Flick, the world at the very centre of it all, a city called Five Lights, is in danger. Buildings and even streets are mysteriously disappearing. Once Flick realizes what's happening, she must race against time, travelling through unchartered worlds, seeking a way to fix Five Lights before it collapses into nothingness - and takes our world with it.


To find out more about The Strangeworlds Travel Agency, PK quizzed author L D Lapinski on the inspiration behind the book, its characters, and its many fantastical worlds.

Our hero, Flick, uses suitcases to travel between magical worlds. What inspired this idea?

I’ve always loved the concept of other worlds being close to ours – ‘His Dark Materials’ is one of my favourite-ever series for that reason! But I’d never given much thought to creating a portal-fantasy style book of my own before The Strangeworlds Travel Agency. It really was one of those bolt-from-the-blue ideas that came out of nowhere. I’d never even written any middle-grade before, even though I enjoy reading it. Strangeworlds, and the travel agency itself, came to me in a flash, so much so that I wrote the first ten thousand words of it on the first day – the story just had to be told!

Worldbuilding can be tough with just one world, but Strangeworlds has tons. How did you keep it all together during the writing process?

With lots and lots of notes! Seriously, I could wallpaper my house with the pages of notes I have about different worlds and how they work. It became easier to work with the different worlds when I assigned each one of them a role in terms of what emotion they should inspire. I’ve always said you need a six-sense approach to worldbuilding, and that the sixth sense should be how the world makes you feel, regardless of how it looks. So, one world had to be frightening, another had to be enchanting, another had to be awe-inspiring. By giving each world a role, it made them easier to wrangle and stopped me from writing a whole book about each individual world!

Strangeworlds Travel Agency

You live just outside Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England, which is associated with the legend of Robin Hood. Did your lush surroundings inspire the many magical locations of The Strangeworlds Travel Agency?

Sherwood Forest is a lovely place, but for me it will always be that place we got taken to on boring school trips! That being said, I am very happy and lucky to be living somewhere so close to woodland, and open green spaces. I like walking, and there are plenty of bike trails and things close by, too. The surroundings close by definitely inspired a few worlds, but most of all it inspired the village Flick moves to at the start of the book – Little Wyverns. Little Wyverns is based on a mashup of the villages around here, all old-fashioned and small but being expanded by new developments like the one Flick moves into.

Strangeworlds is your first published book, but you wrote your actual first book when you were seven. Can you tell us about it?

It was called The Adventure of Pip, and it was about a frog, named Pip, who owned an aeroplane and lived in a tree house. She would fly to all her friends and give them presents and stay for lunch, and to be honest it sounds like my perfect life. Strangely enough, no one has ever offered to publish it.

Thinking back to when you were Flick’s age; if you could have traveled via magic suitcase, where would you have gone?

I would have wanted to catapult myself into Lyra’s Oxford. I spent my entire early secondary school career trying to convince people to read the ‘His Dark Materials’ books and was completely obsessed. I remember making a paper and split-pin alethiometer! The whole idea of running over the rooftops of Oxford, playing in the Clay Pits and seeing the markets sounded so otherworldly and wonderful. I was twenty-nine before I finally made it to Oxford on a visit, and I can confirm it’s just as magical in real life!

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by  L D Lapinski is published by Hachette Australia.