A TRIP to Tasmania and some supercilious alpacas were the catalyst for Kathryn Lefroy’s debut children’s book Alex and the Alpacas Save the World.
The South Fremantle local had only planned to stay for a weekend at a farm in Huon Valley, but she ended up staying there for two weeks.
“There were four alpacas walking around as if they owned the place,” Lefroy says.
“They looked at you as if saying ‘we know something you don’t know’”.
There was also a dark and silently foreboding forest and a picturesque olive grove.
Despite ideas for the book swirling around in her head, Lefroy put things on hold as she and her husband headed to Los Angeles for work.
“We were there for six years. I was writing content for business start-ups in Silicone Valley.”
Eventually she began writing for herself.
“I wrote the first draft and thought ‘I’m amazing, I have written a book’, but it was the biggest load of rubbish,” she laughs.
After 20 rewrites the manuscript was sent to a US publishing firm.
“They said it was awesome, but can you set it in America.”
Lefroy refused and kept the book set in Tassie with a feisty girl called Alex, talking alpacas, a grumpy grandfather, Aztec warriors and a 12-year-old walking encyclopedia Leeuie, who lives on a nearby apple orchard.
The main characters are named after Lefroy’s niece and nephew.
Alex thought she was going on a holiday, but pretty soon she’s caught up in fight to save the world, with the help of four alpacas.
“I felt it was right to write about a girl,” Lefroy says.
“Kids need to see people like themselves, see someone doing something and think ‘I can do that’.”
Published by Fremantle Press, Alex and the Alpacas Save the World is and easy read with some scary dark moments and plenty of high drama.