I'd like to thank Huw Powell for agreeing to do this interview and for taking the time to answer some questions for Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. I really loved reading 'Space Jackers' and I'm eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, 'The Lost Sword', which is out in July. I'm hoping that the next book will be soon on its way Huw, perhaps a cover reveal at some point would be good (hinting cheekily). So, over to Huw and his fantastic replies below.....
Tell us a little bit about Spacejackers and the series?
Spacejackers is an exciting new book series about space pirates. The first novel was published in July last year by Bloomsbury (paperback and ebook) and WF Howes (audio book). It’s all about a boy called Jake Cutler, who is abandoned on a remote planet when he’s two years old. Jake is raised by cyber-monks, but he has a passion for the stars and a thirst for adventure. When Jake turns thirteen, space pirates attack the monastery where he lives, forcing him to flee the planet aboard a grubby old spaceship called the Dark Horse. Jake embarks on an incredible voyage through space in search of his missing father and a mythical planet called Altus.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?
Jake grows up not knowing who he is or where he’s from. He doesn’t even remember his own parents. His only clue is a mysterious gold pendant that contains three crystals: a diamond, a ruby and an emerald. This means that Jake never really feels as though he belongs with the cyber-monks – or anyone else – he has no sense of identity. If that wasn’t bad enough, his eyes were damaged in a space storm and replaced with special computerised lenses, which means that Jake has bright purple eyes. When space pirates come searching for Jake, he has no idea why.
What is your favourite theme/genre to write about?
Space. As a writer and reader, I get excited about a lot of genres, especially those set in intriguing worlds full of magic and mystery. However, I’ve always been fascinated with space and what the future might hold. As a child, I was obsessed with Star Wars and Warhammer 40K role play, as well as science-fiction books and comics, including The Stainless Steel Rat series by Harry Harrison and The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The challenge writing Spacejackers was to make the future feel old, so people feel they are reading a classic tale, like Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing something?
A few years ago, I was living in London and spending most of my time working – with little to show for it. I really wanted something else in my life, however my options were limited because of my long working hours, therefore I needed something flexible. What could be simpler than a notepad and pen? My brother was already a published author and I had always enjoyed writing in my younger years. I started scribbling whenever I could find time, usually in cafés or on the tube, and I was immediately hooked. A few years later, my first novel was published.
What are your current projects?
In addition to promoting the first Spacejackers book in the UK, I’m helping to ‘Americanise’ the novel for release in the US and Canada in June. At the same time, I’m putting the finishing touches to the second book in the series, Spacejackers: The Lost Sword, which is due out in the UK, Australia and New Zealand on 2nd July. Finally, I’ve started writing the third book in the series, currently titled Spacejackers: The Pirate King, which will be published next year. In my spare time, I’m a Patron of Reading and I support various initiatives that encourage children to read.
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? This is always a tricky balance for me, because I have a ‘day job’ and two young sons, which means that I have to be disciplined with the time allocated for writing. As an author, I want to make the second and third books as good as they can be, however it’s important to devote a few hours a week to promote the first book, so it has the best possible chance of success. This includes school visits, literature festivals, website updates, social media, local press, interviews, etc.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
There are so many people to choose from for different reasons. Imagine being able to meet Jesus Christ, King Arthur, William Shakespeare, Albert Einstein or Winston Churchill. If there was one children’s author I would like to meet today, it would be JK Rowling. I would love to talk with her about the Harry Potter series and swap ideas for other novels. Her books have become modern day classics, capturing the imagination of millions of readers. It would be fascinating to understand her approach to writing and find out if there will ever be another Hogwarts adventure.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
It would probably be The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. Not only is it a fantastic trilogy full of magic and adventure, but JRR Tolkien created a whole world with Middle Earth, including its own creatures, politics, history, maps and languages. His work has entertained generations of fans and inspired a whole genre of fantasy novels. Most authors only dream of leaving such a legacy.
How do you describe your role of Patron of Reading?
Fun, rewarding and an honour. Writhlington School is a modern secondary school in Radstock with impressive students, staff and facilities, which includes a brilliant library and a first class librarian. The school has a great feel to it and I really enjoy engaging with the children (mostly years 7, 8 and 9). As their Patron of Reading, I encourage the students to read for pleasure, whether they are library prefects or rapid readers. This means regular visits, a monthly newsletter, competitions and messages from other children’s authors.
Is there anything else that you would like to tell us?
Never trust a space pirate!