I’d always longed to write a book like those I grew up with. However, the ripping yarns of yesteryear don’t always bear close examination against the more enlightened values of the 21st century.
On the other hand, recent children’s literature, while addressing today’s issues, can fall into the trap of formulaic safety.
Tarred with the same brush?
What to do? How could an author buck the prevailing trend of domestic dramas and write a good old-fashioned rollicking adventure, without being tarred with the same brush (if you’ll pardon the expression) of all those colonial Boy’s Own Adventures? The answer came when I was writing a biography of my RAF pilot father, for family and friends. In the midst of poring over logbooks, black and white snapshots and model aircraft, my young son started asking questions about the granddad he’d never met.
A digital native stranded in an analogue world
A delightful thought whizzed through my head: what if a 21st century boy, born into the digital age of smartphones, Google and virtual reality, could meet a hero of the analogue age, and experience all the adventures that went with him? The idea for The Bother in Burmeon was born.
This race against time, with beasts, baddies and bombs around every corner, was followed by Trouble in Teutonia. This sequel – or is it a prequel? – takes place after the first book for Billy, the young hero, but before for his Grandpop. Cue all manner of time-travel conundrums.
The Al-Eden Emergency is set in a 1966 Middle East and Swinging London jetpunk world. There are thrills and spills aplenty, scorpions, sharks, amazing aircraft and ancient prophecies. A sinister rebel army, kidnapping teens to fulfil its mysterious leader’s evil ambition, adds a strong note of relevance for today.
Unlike today, however, the analogue world offers no second chance, no “play again.” The past truly is (with apologies to L.P. Hartley) a dangerous country.