Now I have to start by being honest. If you're looking for good old fashioned detective, who dun nit drama, then this isn't what I mean by Childhood mystery. If you're looking for entertaining books that kids will love to read, either on their own, or with their parents, then you're in the right place.
I'm passionate about children reading and also about parents and children reading together. That's what got me into writing in the first place. If you're at all interested in these topics then you might want to take a look at my blogs on the subject.
What I'm referring to are tales that leave children wondering what's going to happen next. Stories that stretch their imagination and have them turning the next page, trying to figure out what new surprise is in store. To me that's real mystery and reminds me of the fascination I had with books as a child, an enchantment that I'm striving to replicate with the fiction that I write.
Fortunately, Wikipedia agree with me.
In the stories that I weave, there are certainly thrills, along with adventure, dragons, dinosaurs, evil empires, His Imperial Majesty’s armed forces, clones, pirates, aliens, dazzling technological weaponry and a wide selection of secrets waiting to be uncovered by children who spend most of their time just trying to survive amongst all of this wizardry.
I write for a whole variety of reasons, but foremost among them are a belief in the importance of children developing a healthy interest in reading, particularly boys.
When did I start? Back in 1971, that's right, over 45 years ago (I really am that old). I was into my second year at boarding school. I'd given all of my comic books away (I don't dare to think what they would be worth now), when I'd reached 11 and felt that now that I was off to big school, those kids' stories were behind me. I was in the Trafalgar Road in Greenwich, London and there on a comic rack was DC comics' New Gods #1, with 'Orion fights for Earth' across the front cover. Somehow I had to own it.
I raced back home, begged the money from my mum and rushed back. It was still there. Pete Bryant and I took it home to his house to read. The story, (and art) by Jack Kirby blew me away. For those of you who already know Jack Kirby, then you know what I'm about to say, for those of you who don't, then I'll quote from an article by Marv Wolfman (who went on to be not quite as famous) in that very issue. (Yes, I still have that issue nearly 50 years later).
'Jack's imagination isn't just earthbound, the universe itself is his to play with. Time and space bend under his will. Whatever can be conceived is. If there is an explosion you don't just see an explosion, you see the universe itself shattering at the seams; you watch raw energy stretched to the outmost. The imagination of Jack Kirby has no boundaries, no limits. Nothing is too bizarre to be tried, nothing is too incredible to be conceived. A wise man once said that when man eventually reaches the far end of the universe, he will undoubtedly find the name Jack Kirby in the lower right hand corner.'
I had to write and draw stories like that and we both started that very afternoon.
Sadly, it's taken me a long time to realise that dream, (and I'm still nowhere near Jack's league).
Jack, who is sadly no longer with us, ranks alongside Stan Lee in the comic book pantheon, co-creating the Avengers, the X Men, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, the Fantastic Four, the Black Panther and legions more. If you'd like to find out more about this incredible creator, then look him up here.
For a more formal background, then take a look here
In terms of the stories that I write, I believe in creating interesting characters and then letting them loose in large, expansive 'universes' where they can get on with telling their own stories. As you'd probably expect, it's not too dissimilar to the approach taken by the major comic publishers and like them I believe in using the same 'universes' for multiple tales. I even use them in collaborative work with other creators. If you're interested in being involved in creatively exploring (and not limited to writing, I'm interested in investigating the opportunities in other forms of media) some of my universes then take a look here.
Currently, there are two major universes operating. There's the Astro Saga universe, where the Celestial Secrets series is based. Think Star Wars meets How to Train your Dragon and Faerielandz, a dark fantasy for children, where fiction and reality collide, (Dr Who in Wonderland).
The Celestial Secrets, is aimed at boys, although Nattie does have her own unique part to play, proving that brains can outwit brawn nearly every time. This series of seven books, was deliberately written to provide an exciting introduction to science fiction for boys. Whilst there are whole libraries of books for older science fiction readers, there is precious little written material which fathers can use to tempt their sons into a lifetime of enjoyment. Aimed at older children nd young teenagers, the stories start out as innocently as you can expect from a cosmic quest to save humanity and get progressively darker as Torr, our protagonist, begins to make the journey from boyhood.
I also recognised the challenge of keeping boys reading and again, I crafted the tales to address this. Peppered with quirky scientific fact throughout, the language expands, adding vocabulary and complexity such that readers would be stretched and developed throughout the series. I'm hoping to write a blog on this soon. .
The early books are also designed so that they can be read by parent and child together, which I find is a family friendly way of introducing children to new material. Personally, I'm a great believer in the wonderful intimacy of snuggling up to discover some new hidden treasures together, but sadly to say, I've found from feedback that many parents find that before the series is concluded their offspring have been so keen to discover what happens next that they've finished them before the adult can get a look in. (If you want to know what happens, take a look at The Astro Saga for Creators although I warn you, it's full of spoilers.)
Faeirelandz is being written to redress the balance between boys and girls.
Suitable for both genders and with a wider age range,
Faerielandz asks the question:-
'What if all of the children's stories were true...
...and much, much darker?'