Hi Shane. Your third Darkmouth book – Chaos Descends – is out on the 7th of April, can you tease us with what we can expect without any spoilers?
So much happens from the opening chapter that I have to be careful what I say, but I can tell you it’s an epic culmination of everything that’s happened in the first two books, and we see lots of new characters, returning characters and characters we never thought we’d see. At its heart is a threat to Finn, Emmie and Darkmouth that would make any normal person run screaming in the opposite direction.
You’ve terrified us with Manticores and Minotaurs, Basilisks and Hydra (OK, maybe not the Basilisk), what Legends do you have in store for us in Chaos Descends?
I have great fun finding new Legends from ancient myths and when I stumbled on a fellow with no head called a Blemmyes I had to find space for him. I’ve also kept the Hydra just to glimpses until now, but now its time has come.
James De La Rue’s illustrations and maps in the books are stunning. How did you come to work with him and what’s it been like to see your work come to life in his illustrations? Have the illustrations fed back into your writing in any way?
It’s been amazing to see James give such life to the world of Darkmouth. When HarperCollins sent me some of James’s work I knew immediately he would be perfect for the series, but I had no idea just how much I would feed off them. The detail in the drawings is mind-blowing and I’m always finding new things in them to use in the stories.
Do you have a favourite illustration from the Darkmouth series?
I have so many I love that it’s hard to pick one. There’s one in Chaos Descends of Darkmouth below and above ground that is just stunning and has so much going on in it I will never get bored looking at it. But in Worlds Explode there’s a picture of a dog wearing false teeth – it was exactly as daft and baffling as I imagined it in my mind, so that’s a favourite too.
We’ve heard rumours of a Darkmouth film, who would be your perfect casting for Finn, Emmie, Hugo and Clara?
I saw Room recently and while it’s a very different role, the young actor Jacob Tremblay struck me as a potential Finn for sure. But I think he’d be great at anything. For Emmie, a younger Saoirse Ronan would have been great so I guess we should find the “next Saoirse Ronan”. I think Hugh Jackman would be a great Hugo, and I think someone like Tina Fey would bring the humour and clear-eyed intelligence of Clara. Obviously, I’m hoping for a role for myself. Maybe as one of the smellier, less competent Legends…
The fourth Darkmouth book is due early in 2017, will that be the last one, or could there be more?
There is certainly lots to explore in the worlds of the Legend Hunters and the Legends themselves, so I would love to write more if the readers are keen!
Are there other book genres you’d like to try writing in?
The great thing about writing for young readers is that you can mix up so many genres and they absorb it all, so on any given day I might be writing real-life or fantasy, horror or humour – wherever the story brings me.
Do you have any maxims that you live or write by?
You can only think about ideas for so long, but a story will only be told when you sit down and actually write. It’s amazing how characters and ideas will appear on the page as if by magic.
Which books did you enjoy reading growing up?
Like so many young readers, Roald Dahl pretty much changed my life. Through him I developed a love of reading, but also a desire to write my own stories someday. I also loved detective series such as The Three Investigators and The Hardy Boys, while CS Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia gripped me too. Plus, I gorged on Marvel comics.
Do you have any recommendations of books you’ve enjoyed reading recently?
Oh, there are so many, but I’ve just read and loved MG Leonard’s Beetle Boy, which takes a familiar idea of a boy looking for his dad and does something really great with it.
A little bird (Twitter) told us you’re prone to nostalgic eBay purchases, have you succumbed recently? What did you buy?
Yes! I recently bought the 1978 Star Wars Annual No. 1. I had one when I was a kid, and decided I needed to get it again and was so glad I did. The illustrations are wonderful. [see pic]