Sunday, April 20, 2014


Q&A with Author 

What is The Brotherhood and the Shield? 
Without giving too much away, The Brotherhood and the Shield tells the story of a group of orphans growing up in a borstal home in London at the turn of the 20th Century. The series centres around three main characters - Benjamin Brannon, Sebastian Cain and Tommy Joel and their progression from childhood to adulthood.
In The Three Thorns, the orphans struggle to survive in tough upbringings before terrestrial forces call upon them for help from a world beyond their own, which offers answers to their past. They discover this new world called Abasin that has been overrun by a false king who has ruined most of what was good and magical about it and are landed with the burden to put things right due to a birthright each share. 
The characters form a Brotherhood together and are helped by many of Abasin's last survivors, most of them magical creatures. Through their journey to rid the new world from evil, the Brotherhood meet friends and foes. Some set out to protect and train them into warriors, while others are on a mission to hunt them down and kill them. 
Not all things are what they appear to be in the story of The Brotherhood and the Shield.

What inspired you to begin writing?
I believe it was my overactive imagination that got me 
started. I visualise characters and storylines very vividly which I owe a lot to film for. My love of movies inspired me to write. 

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The schools there were very drab and bleak, which was the inspiration for the scary orphanage of Gatesville in The Three Thorns.

Has your background had any effect on your writing?
Definitely. I think this is why The Three Thorns is very Irish in a sense, even though my characters are mixed. Maybe there's a little bit of Irish myth and folklore in there. You never know until you read. 

Where you always interested in writing for Children?
Honestly, no. For me, the decision to write fantasy for a debut was more to do with the powerful visual aspects of it. I found there were limitless boundaries in the fantasy realm compared to other genres of fiction. 

How does your material differ from the likes of other fantasy novels (e.g. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of Rings Trilogy, Lemony Snicket’s, His Dark Materials Trilogy?)
I'd say its heavy realism makes it unique. The Brotherhood and the Shield storyline is very dark and deals with more tragedy than the comparisons mentioned. It also incorporates science-fiction which I don't think has been attempted before in a Children's fantasy series such as this. 

Do you consider this book to be as good as or better than any of these famous fantasy titles?

Ha. Ha. Oh boy. Talk about being put on the hot seat. I've always felt that the reader is the true critic, so that will be up to them to decide. However, I will say I never wrote The Three Thorns to be ‘as good as’ or to be better than anything. 

I wrote The Three Thorns to be its own thing. I wanted the story to be as individual as possible. That is my goal in my storytelling. I want to offer something that hasn't been offered to the public before; something new that pushes the boundary, if possible. 

Do you aspire to be the likes of such authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, Roald Dahl, Philip Pullman, C.S. Lewis etc?
In someway. It would be nice, for sure, but the book is the star. 

Do you have any particular influences for writing the novel?
Yes. This may seem odd but most of my influences are certain film-makers and contemporary painters and photographers rather than writers. I'm more inspired to write from visual art than I am with literature. 

How did you come up with the idea and basis for The Three Thorns?
It was very strange how it happened. But I feel that discussion is for another time. 

Did you start out writing a children’s book or was it something that developed?
Hmm. The whole subject of abandonment narrowed this particular book for a younger audience, but as I got to book 3, The Lost Prince, it progressed into something else. It became both a children’s series of struggle and victory and an adult book of reflection and loss. 

How did you come up with the main characters?

Some of my main character’s have been based on real people I have met. 
The less central characters I created myself. 
A lot of the second book deals with one particular character that I believe most readers will relate to. His initial character in The Three Thorns is that of a loveable heroic underdog but his character changes later in the story.

What makes you think this book will be marketable?
Everyone loves to escape in a good book and I feel its the strong story in The Three Thorns that will excite avid child readers as well as entertain a wider and more varied audience. Plus the love of the fantasy genre is already worldwide with a massive international fan base that's constantly growing.  
I've felt for a long time The Three Thorns is the right type of rare story that these fans are crying out for. 

For a 7 book series, did you have everything planned out from the beginning?
At the very beginning there was a main concept of a trilogy in very basic terms but the complexity grew with the writing when more and more ideas came. 

What’s in store with the future books?

I do not want to spoil anything or give away too much. All I can say is that The Three Thorns is a great foundation for what is to come. 

Any specific challenges in the writing?

Some. I want to make sure it flows quickly and easily. When I write in relation to the child characters in my book, I am writing for the younger readers and I try and give them enough terminologies rather than patronise them and keep it too simplistic. 

When I write subtle innuendos (some based on real life) using the adult characters in my book, I am writing to relate to the adult reader more so. Thankfully, that proved natural.

Who is the main Character of The Brotherhood story?

All I wish to say is that it won't be who the reader thinks it is.  

Whom in the Brotherhood and the Shield do you most identify with?
Well, not the villains that’s for sure. I identify with Benjamin Brannon as throughout the story Tommy and Sebastian have their own struggles with their duty to fight for their friends and save the goodness of Abasin whereas Benjamin’s fight is within himself. That is why I feel more connected to his character as he deals with a lot of sadness and carries the biggest weight of the three characters.