Janis MacKay is perhaps best known for her Magnus Fin books, set on the north coast of Caithness, where Janis herself lived for a time, but her new childrenâ€™s book The Accidental TimeÂ Traveller has just come out and having relocated herself to Edinburgh, Janis has located her hero in the Scottish Borders.
Janis was inspired to create the main character ofÂ her novel The Accidental Time Traveller by her nephew Saul. In this fun-filled adventureÂ Saul is on his way to the corner shop when a girl appears suddenly in the middle of the road. She stumbles out of the way of a car and as Saul helps her up, his touch seems to her to create a bond between them.
Clearly confused, she is in need of help. Unable to work out who she is and where she lives, Saul hides her in his den. Fortunately for Saul, Agatha is used to looking after herself and is able to make herself comfortable and warm. Gradually Saul comes to believe that Agatha really is from 1812, and he needs to find a way to get her back there â€“ but not before he has learnt everything he can about 1812 in order to write a prize winning essay.
Janis is a clever teacher. Rather than explain the differences between life then and now, she uses humour and misunderstandings to provide a gentle history lesson in the midst of an exciting adventure.
As well as forging a good plot, Saul is an engaging hero; he wants all the things boys want at Christmas but has a sense of integrity that wins through in the end as he and his friends overcome prejudice and bullying.