Taste for the Supernatural; as Their First Children's Novel Comes out, John Barrowman and Sister Carole Tell HANNAH STEPHENSON about Working Together

Article excerpt

Byline: HANNAH STEPHENSON

Torchwood star John Barrowman welcomes me into his elegant Chelsea home dressed in his pyjamas, hair tousled but still strikingly handsome.

He ushers me up the spiral staircase to meet his sister, Carole, who is eight years his senior. They are both warm, funny and loud, interrupting each other and laughing a lot.

John, 44, has made a mint from a career that started in musical theatre and expanded to TV. Carole is a journalist and professor of English in Wisconsin, who previously collaborated with John on his two autobiographies, Anything Goes and I Am What I Am.

Now they have written their first children's book, Hollow Earth, aimed at nine to 12-year-olds.

It's an exciting page-turner about twins Matt and Emily Calder, who can not only read each others' minds but have supernatural powers that enable them to make art come to life and enter paintings at will.

"My thoughts are much deeper than his," says Carole dryly, on the subject of brain power.

"But I can make money out of my thoughts," he counters.

She explains: "We didn't hang out together as kids because of the age difference. But since we started working on books, sometimes I'm over three times a year."

"And she's here for a month at a time," he laments.

It's amazing that Barrowman has managed to fit projects involving his family into his busy work schedule. He's starred in West End musicals, been a talent show judge with Andrew Lloyd Webber, skated in Dancing On Ice and hosted Tonight's The Night, on BBC One.

He's devoted to long-term partner Scott Gill, an architect who's been with him for 19 years (they became civil partners in 2006), and to his wider family.

When he and his sister are working together, they tape their conversations in case an idea is formed. He says he tends to be the creative force, while she does the writing.

In the novel, the twins' powers are sought by villains trying to access the terrors of Hollow Earth, a place where all the evil creatures ever imagined lie trapped for eternity.

It's awash with devils and demons, set against an atmospheric backdrop of an ancient abbey on a remote Scottish island, where much of the action takes place.

But the Barrowmans were keen not to emulate a scene from a certain school of magic. …