Monthly Archives: January 2011

Blog Tour: Interview with Richard Denning

I am very pleased to welcome and interview Richard Denning, the author of The Amber Treasure, Tomorrow’s Guardian and its sequel, Yesterday’s Treasures.

Richard was born in Ilkeston in Derbyshire, UK and lives in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands. He works as a General Practitioner (family doctor)with a North Birmingham practice. He is 43 and married with two children.

He is a Young adult sci-fi, historical fiction and historical fantasy writer. He also writes book and board game reviews and online articles on historical and gaming related topics. He owns his own small publishing house, Mercia Books and is part of a board game design house Medusa Games.

A keen player of board games and other games he is one of the directors of UK Games Expo (the UK’s largest hobby games convention). He is a board game designer and his first Board Game, ‘The Great Fire on London 1666’ was published by Medusa Games and Prime Games in October 2010.

Author website: http://www.richarddenning.co.uk

  • Can you tell us a little about Tomorrow’s Guardian and what it is all about.

A. In Tomorrow’s Guardian, Tom, the main character – a 11 year old schoolboy – discovers that he can travel in time. This might sound like fun but he soon discovers that it is fraught will peril. In fact the book is all about Tom deciding how to use that power. Should he use it for self gain, should he use it to dominate others or to protect history. Evil men try to use him to bend history to their will and he must find the courage and strength to oppose that.

  • What type of book is it?

A. Mainly an adventure story with lots of action and daring-do in various time periods but I hope we learn quite a bit about Tom on the way – as well as the other characters.

  • Tell us about the other characters.

A. Well there is Septimus Mason – a sort of Han Solo style mercenary – who travels back and forth in time for money. Next is Professor Neoptolemos who runs a secret society dedicated to preservation of history. Then we have three individuals that Tom dreams about – people who it is believed died in history but he goes to rescue. Edward is a soldier who went missing in a battle in 1879, Mary a maid who perished in the Great Fire of London and Charlie a sailor who went down on a U-boat in WW2. Finally a mysterious stranger (Redfeld) who I think the readers should learn about as they go along.

  • What age would you recommend for this book?

A. Well I would say 11 to 14 year olds although some younger advanced readers could manage the book especially if say reading it with an adult. Equally I have had favourable comments from adults.

  • What made you write this book?

A. I have always been fascinated by Time Travel as a element in stories – films, books and TV. I am huge fan of DR Who, enjoyed the Back to the Future Movies, as well as the various Star Trek Time travel adventures and I have to admit that these elements have influenced the book although I feel I have looked at Time Travel in a different way to how it is handled in those stories. I wanted to explore the perils and opportunities that time travel offers. I also felt that there was an opportunity for the reader to see other time periods in an exciting way. In fact some readers have commented that through Tom’s eyes they get to explore periods of history they knew little about.

  • How technical and scientific is Time Travel in the Book?

A. I do discuss a few theories of how Time Travel COULD work but I don’t dwell on details to much. I use a Professor in the book to pass on that information but always seen through Tom’s eyes. Whilst I try to create a believable world I don’t make it too weighed down with complex science. This is an adventure story not a thesis!

  • Is there a particular reason why you chose to write a time travel adventure?

I have always been fascinated by the possibilities that being able to travel in time would offer. If you think about it we all like to go on holidays to exotic locations, to see the world and different cultures. We like to be present at important moments – a sporting triumph maybe or to meet celebrities and famous people.  But it is in a way a bit sad that many of the most interesting people are now dead or the most fascinating moments in history have happened and the most amazing locations gone forever.

If Time Travel were real there would be that chance of maybe meeting Leonardo DaVinci, Mozart, Caesar or Cleopatra. There were once seven wonders of the ancient world. Of these only the Great Pyramid exists. How wonderful to be able to visit the other six.  Think how marvellous to be present at the moment Newton discovered gravity, to sail (and hopefully get off) the Titanic or how fascinating to see the first airplane flight.

It is no surprise that Time Travel does play such a big role in TV, movies and in books. I think that is something that appeals to quite a few people. But then, when you consider it in detail, Time Travel brings with it many dangers and perils. I wanted to write a book that offered all that fun stuff – the chance to meet some historical characters and visit long lost places whilst exploring all the dangers doing that could bring. In the end I just love a sci-fi and fantasy story and this is one that occurred to me!

  • There is a character in the book who is quite mysterious, and you don’t know much about at first. Why do you think an element of mystery is important in a book, not just for characters?

I like there to be a mix of motives going on in a book. In Tomorrow’s Guardian you are not really sure what any of 4 characters are really up to – Redfeld the sinister officer from an alternate earth, Septimus the mercenary adventurer, Neoptolemos the head of a secret agency or The Custodian: a sort of pan dimensional police man. The sequel (Yesterday’s Treasures) will also have more than one mystery playing out. The best books I enjoy have this element of complex characters with hidden motives that only become clear eventually. Think of Snape in Harry Potter for example.

  • Did you draw on any personal experience or knowledge whilst writing the book?

I love history and spend a lot of time visiting old castles, battlefields and museums and sometimes I will come across something I want to bring into a book. So I have been to Tintagel (a castle in Cornwall) on several occasions and love it. I did quite a bit of reading about the Great Fire on London for a board game I published last year and that material found its way into the 1666 bits. I even read a really good book on the theory of time travel – because there are physicists really working on experiments about time travel in America. So some of what I drop into the book comes from real life research. I don’t understand it myself I hasten to add – it’s all advanced physics but I enjoyed reading a bit about it.

  • Are there any plans for a sequel?

A. Indeed the sequel “Yesterday’s Treasures will be out in the spring and features a race through history for fragments of a long lost artefact.

  • Have you written any other books?

A. Yes. There is The Amber Treasure – a historical adventure story set in Dark Age Northumbria during the climatic battles that forges Britain. I have also written a historical Fantasy – The Last Seal set during the Great Fire of London.

  • Where can readers find out more about your books.

A. The books are available on Amazon but the bets starting place is my website www.richarddenning.co.uk

Thank you so much Richard for answering my questions, and dropping by!

You can read my review of Tomorrow’s Guardian here.

You can buy the book on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and in e-book edition on Amazon UK and US. You can also buy the book(s) on his website, Mercia Books.

Tomorrow’s Guardian by Richard Denning

Title: Tomorrow’s Guardian
Author: Richard Denning
Published: 1 January 2011
Format: Finished Paperback
Pages: 368
RRP: £9.99
Rating: 10/11+

When schoolboy Tom Oakley discovers he can transport himself through time, he draws the attention of evil men who seek to bend history to their will. Tom’s family are obliterated and he soon faces an impossible choice: To save the world he must sacrifice his family.

Dennings’ writing quality was very good, and made the entertainment value of the book a whole lot better. As the publicity involved with the book is saying, it isn’t just young boys who love this book, so do adults (and maybe now (nearly) 16 year old girls)!

I thought the character development was a good level, I could relate to Tom and felt compassionate towards him, even though sometimes I felt he said some things that I didn’t believe a 12 year old would say.

I did like how at the beginning of the book time went quickly, and only slowed when an interesting event happened, and then his life returned to normal, and suddenly his life got upturned and then the real action begins. I thought it was quite a good way to keep readers reading, by keeping the action seldom at the beginning, creating a few cliffhangers which made you keep on reading.

So, all these weird things happen to Tom at the beginning, and like anyone would assume, he thinks he has gone mad. However, his questions are…. mainly answered when he finds out he is a Walker. At first I thought it meant a short bread, or a family name, or a packet of crisps, but then I got it, as it meant he ‘Walked’ through time. It took me a while to get used to that term,  but not long!! I really liked the way time travel is described. There is a Flow of Time, in which he visualises a clock, and then depending where he wants to go, he moves the hands on the clock backwards or forwards. And he can also travel to a different position in space, as well as travelling in time. He then imagines a map, and can travel backwards or forwards in time, whilst moving to a specific place as well!

Sounds a bit unrealistic? Well, yes. It was unrealistic. But that is what these kind of adventure books for boys need to be, otherwise they are not deemed as interesting. It was good how there was realistic life intertwined, like Tom being bullied, for example.

One of the most important and good things about this book was how well described everything was. Like in fantasies, it is crucial you describe the world well. This book had many, and it really helped my enjoyment of the book, I could really imagine what places they arrived at, and it made it really fun to read!

Overall, I would recommend this book to any person above 10 years, as it is enjoyable for all ages 🙂

Rating
Plot: 9/10
Lots of action and mystery
Writing Quality: 8/10
It was very good, made it really enjoyable
Originality: 6/10
Not very original with time travel at all, but I thought the other areas of the book kept the quality high
Characters: 8/10
Strong characters whom you hated, loved, or weren’t sure about until the last minute. Nail biting stuff!
Descriptions: 9/10
The best thing for me! Lots of good  descriptions 🙂

40/50 = 80%

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Thank you to the author, Richard Denning, for providing me with this review copy!

Read my interview with Richard Denning about the book, here!

Entangled by Cat Clarke

Title: Entangled
Author: Cat Clarke
Published: 6 January 2011
Format: ARC
Pages: 372 (Advanced Reader Copy)
RRP: £6.99
Rating: 13/14+

‘The same questions whirl round and round in my head:
What does he want from me?
How could I have let this happen?
AM I GOING TO DIE?’

17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper – and no clue how she got there.

As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she’s tried to forget. There’s falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there’s something missing. As hard as she’s trying to remember, is there something she just can’t see?

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?
A story of dangerous secrets, intense friendships and electrifying attraction.

When Grace Carlyle wakes up to find herself in a strange, white room, with a white chair, a white ensuite, a white bed, a white duvet, a white pillow…with a white table, with over 100 pens and a stack of paper, she writes her story. And my, that story is enthralling!

Clarke’s writing style is superb, and draws you in at the right moments to draw either laughter or sadness, and it makes this book an incredibly intriguing and interesting read…. it definitely left an impression on me.

At first, Grace may seem a little selfish and bitchy, and to me it wasn’t like that. Like in Before I Fall, I tried to look past the main characters (Sam in Before I Fall) seemingly obvious flaws, and tried to note how they changed, for better or for worse. Although, in both cases they seemed to go in a new direction which was definitely positive.

I was really intrigued by the first chapter… I was wondering what on earth was happening, so many original and strange things had happened! There was a really good element of mystery as well, it really kept me glued to the page.

What I really loved about this book was the characters, and how well developed they were, and how realistic it was. I loved the characters for what they were, and of course there were moments where the characters did something I felt was morally wrong, but it made it more realistic. It was also realistic in the fact of how the characters interacted as teenagers, and their actions and behaviour. It was so true to life I was shocked at how close it was to some people I knew..

Nevertheless, it didn’t stop my enjoyment of this book. There was maybe no set plot, but there was always something interesting happening, a cliff hanger like end to a chapter that kept me reading the book.

I really felt for Grace, and at times she may have been over reacting, and at times it may have seemed a little unrealistic, but really, people do experience things like that on a day to day basis (maybe not what Ethan did to Grace though), and that made it all the more good to me.

I really recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a little bit of thriller, romance and comedy. You will find all sorts of wonderful in this book, and it really has stayed communicating to me, even though I have finished the book…

Rating
Plot: 9/10
Mystery, surprise, all marvellously done!
Writing Quality: 10/10
Absolutely magical 😀
Originality: 9/10
I think it was a very original idea in the events that happened, and it felt so gritty and down to earth, which I felt no other British teen book had done before.
Characters: 9/10
There was so much mystery and depth to each of the characters, and a lot of their development was hidden in the pages, waiting to be read, and that was really fun to read.
Descriptions: 8/10
It sometimes felt that there wasn’t many, but the descriptions were integrated so well you could easily imagine what was happening, but not notice you were reading a description, and I think that is great story telling!

45/50 = 90%

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Thank you to UK Book Tours for this copy!