Today I’m pleased to welcome you to the blog for a very special interview with author Sophie Cameron whose children’s/middle grade book Our Sister Again has recently been published.  I have read the book already and will share my review on the blog soon but first I’d love to share with you a very special interview with the author which is a little different to normal interviews because I had the chance to get my questions asked as part of a special meeting with the author, Sophie and the editor from Little Tiger, Mattie.  Different bloggers go to ask different questions, and I had my slot where Sophie answered my four questions about the book and writing in general.  You can read them below, but above that are questions Mattie asked to Sophie first.  A huge thank you to Nina for arraging this interview and you can see a review of this book coming very soon on this blog (I’ve read the book already and all I can say is –  emotional and amazing!). 🙂  Now, on to the interview…

Author Interview

First we start wit the questions Mattie asked:

What inspired the story?

The story sort of came together bit by bit which I find tends to be the way with most stories I aim at completing, they take a long time to  permeate in my head before they come together.  It  was mostly inspired by TV shows, I’m a big TV watcher, especially the channel 4 TV show Humans which is about extremely life-like robots, and also there’s a Black Mirror episode called  Be Right Back which had a similar theme of using social media to recreate someone who has died and the effect that has on the people left behind.  Grief is generally something there in the book and how a grieving family start moving past that, slowly.  Those influences came together and eventually I came up with the idea about a family where one of the children is recreated as an extremely life-like robot and how that would impact the humans.

The social media element and how people present themselves online and how different that can be to the people we are in real life that was a major interest as well, and how if you could recreate someone with the data.  Would they be the same person you remember or would they be quite different?

Our sister again was originally written as a YA novel but it was later decided to make it middle grade.  How did you find adjusting the story for a younger readership?

It wasn’t a huge change really.  I think the voice was quite suited to middle grade.  I wouldn’t have thought of write it for middle grade but it has the themes that might be of interest to younger readers.  The main difference really is just the dynamic between the characters, because in the initial version when Flora comes back she’s still a fifteen-year-old of herself and Isla is also Fifteen so now they’re the same age which I thought was interesting.  And  in the middle grade version Isla’s thirteen and Flora’s fifteen so there’s still that chain and the five year gap has drifted and now it’s only two years but there’s still very much the older sister, younger sister dynamic.

Isla and Holly’s relationship has changed a lot too.  In the YA version it was an established relationship and not being able to tell her what was going on in the trial is what causes a lot of friction between them.  And in the middle grade version it’s more of a burgeoning, budding romance which was really fun to write and I think it worked a lot nicer because there’s so much heavy stuff going on in Isla’s life that it was really nice to have that lighter aspect and new and exciting for her, rather than having relationship woes on top of everything else, which gives a touch of levity which the book probably needs really because it’s quite sad.  I enjoyed the process of aging it down to middle grade and it wasn’t that much of a change really.

How did you find the editing process?  Where there any more unexpected turns?

I love editing in general and being edited.  I find it so much more enjoyable than the drafting process and that almost feels like a puzzle, kind of, because you have to move things around and I really enjoy that.  I don’t think there were any surprises but the mystery element of the story, that changed quite a lot throughout the edit too.  The culprit was an completely different person in the beginning and then as we shifted things around it made more sense to make it someone else.  Compared to some of the other books I’ve written, it was a relatively easy one to edit.  And having others input helped to definitely make it a much stronger story, I think.  There were so many things that were suggested that I wouldn’t have thought of before.

 What would you like readers to take away from reading Our Sister Again?

More than a message I hope it leaves them with lots of questions or something to think about.  There are so many questions of where AI can go, if you want it to go there, and also a lot about who we are when we present ourselves online and also who we are as people and what that means.  One of the questions from the book is what is the soul and can you recreate that or is it something you are born with and there’s no way to re-build that through a machine or anything like that?  Or is there a soul at all?

And now for my questions to Sophie:

Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

A lot from TV, I’m a big TV fan, and quite often that is where story ideas come from because it’s such a different medium to writing that you can take an aspect of something that’s on TV and develop it so much more as a novel, but then I’ve also taken  some ideas from folk tales and occasionally from things that have happened to people I know; lots of different sources.

Did you do any research for this book?

I read quite a lot about AI and I searched for AI and podcasts and listened to specific episodes. I also read a book called You Look Like a Thing and I Love You which is a really interesting book on AI.  I don’t think the research I did impacted the story all that much because Flora is so much more advanced than anything that’s available in AI at the moment, so it’s almost like fantasy in that sense because it’s not possible but it was interesting to read about the difficulty in language processing in AI and how that’s one of the most complicated aspects because it’s very difficult to get a machine to speak or respond the way a human can.  It was very interesting and it did inform the way I wrote the character.

What parts were the easiest and most difficult to write?

Holly and Isla’s relationship was probably the easiest part because it was just a really, really fun aspect to write and it came really naturally.  The rapport they have together, Isla’s nervousness around her, I really enjoyed writing that.  The most difficult thing I think was thinking about how Flora changes as the book goes on.  When she arrives she’s almost an exact copy of the girl they remember and then she slowly becomes more distant to who she was.  That was quite tricky to just think about all the different aspects and factors that would be informing that change, because of the fact of the matter that she is a machine, and as she becomes more aware of that there’s things which drive her away from the family to some degree.

Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to write stories for young people?

My main tip is always to read as much as possible.  I think the more you read the more you get a good understanding of, not really a genre because it’s an age range, but you know, what’s out there and what’s maybe not out there as well and the gaps you could fill in.  And things like pacing which is quite specific in books for young people compared to books for adults.  Just lots of reading is I think the best tip.


Thank you so much to Nina, Mattie and Sophie for taking the time to arrange this interview and for Sophie to answer my questions as well as so many other great ones.  I’ll leave a list below of the other bloggers taking part (some interviews I could find but I hope I have the right blog urls) so you can see their individual questions too.  I have to say I loved watching Humans and it’s what drew me into this amazing story, which is so good!  As I said my review coming very soon, just need to write it up on the blog. 🙂

Luna’s Little Library

K and O: Bonkers About Books

Lilly and the Fae

Teaching Isn’t Black and White

Golden Books Girl

About the Book

Our Sister Again book cover

On a small island off the Scottish coast, Isla and her family are grieving the loss of her older sister Flora, who died three years ago. Then they’re offered the chance to be part of a top-secret trial, which revives loved ones as fully lifelike AI robots using their digital footprint.

Isla has her doubts about Second Chances, but they evaporate the moment the ‘new’ Flora arrives. This girl is not some uncanny close likeness; she is Flora – a perfect replica. But not everyone on their island feels the same. And as the threats to Flora mount, she grows distant and more secretive. Will Isla be able to protect the new Flora and bring the community back together?

Buy from Amazon UK    Buy from publisher’s website

About the Author

Sophie Cameron author pic

Sophie Cameron is a YA and MG author from the Scottish Highlands. She studied French and Comparative Literature at the University of Edinburgh and has a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University. Her debut novel OUT OF THE BLUE was nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2019. She lives in Spain with her family.

Visit author’s website    Visit author on twitter    Visit author on Instagram


Did you like this interview?  Would you be interested in reading Our Sister Again?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂