Please join me in welcoming Philip Coleman, author of the YA novel The Master's Book. Like most of us, Philip has written some stories that will never meet a reader!
First, a bit about Philip:
I’ve worked as a biologist for most of my life—in Ireland, where I grew up, then in Brussels, Belgium and now in Switzerland. I’ve been an avid reader all my life, but, although I wrote a little in my teens, I only took up writing again in 2006, and now this is my first published novel. I have a grown-up son and daughter (who were roughly the same ages as Sean and Maeve during the time in Brussels but otherwise aren’t a bit like them at all!). I now live in France.
Why did you pick to write books for YA?
I’ve been inspired (and daunted) partly by the quality of what is already out there for this age group and partly by sharing reading experiences with my children at that age, when we read a lot together. It’s a way of re-living that time with them.
What types of books do you like to read?
All sorts. Classical and literary fiction, intelligent thrillers, YA (of course), humour, history and, occasionally, popular science.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
I love food; cooking it, sharing it and eating it myself (and drinking, of course). I do a bit of drawing and painting, and I try and get a bit of exercise, either in the gym or in the mountains where I live. I only started learning to ski this year.
Tell us about The Master’s Book, and how the story came to be.
As I said, I get a lot of the inspiration from sharing my kids’ experience in their early teens, and going back to when I was that age myself. My three years in Brussels were a very happy time professionally for me, but also in terms of watching my children blossom in their understanding as they learned languages and travelled more. I wanted to capture that time, seeing Brussels through the eyes of a boy, Sean. Both of my children had stunning-looking classmates of mixed race and this became the inspiration for Stephanie. By the way, although Brussels is often seen as boring, parts of it are beautiful and quite lively, and there is a lot of history bound up with the city and its satellite towns, as you will see when you read the book.
Here's a peek at The Master's Book:
In 1482 Mary, the last Duchess of Burgundy, lies on her deathbed in a castle in Flanders. She is only 24. In her final moments she makes a wish that, 500 years later, will threaten the lives of a boy and a girl living in Brussels.
The Master’s Book is the story of Sean, an Irish teenager, just arrived in Brussels to a house that is also a crime scene. Together with Stephanie, his classmate, he finds an illuminated manuscript, only for it to be stolen almost at once.
Where did this manuscript come from? Who was it originally made for? Is there a connection with the beautiful tomb Sean has seen in Bruges? Above all, why does someone want this book so badly that they are prepared to kill for it?
Part thriller and part paper-chase, this book is aimed at boys and girls of twelve and over.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
Prior to this I wrote two fantasy novels, but if they ever see the light of day it will be after a major re-write. In fact, I was first inspired to write when I read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. The last scene takes place in the Oxford Botanic Garden and, as a botanist myself, this gave me the idea of writing a fantasy set in a fictional botanic garden.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I am working on a sequel to The Master’s Book, concerning fugitives from the Rwandan genocide, a tragic event with strong Belgian connections.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Don’t give up writing! Keep trying. On the other hand, if you really feel that you’ve given one story a determined effort, re-drafting it and then trying to get it published, be prepared to move on. It’s a good idea to have more than one project on the boil, if you can find the time. Get feedback as well, from websites such as www.youwriteon.com.
Anything else you want readers to know?
Come to my Facebook page, where you can see photos of some of the locations in the story.
I also have a new website.
Where can readers find your books?