What is your book’s name, genre, age level, and what is it about?
My book is called The Remarkables. It is the story of a teenage boy called Owen who discovers that he has a superpower. After his dad is kidnapped under mysterious circumstances, he joins up with the elderly woman who lives next door. On their journey to rescue Owen’s dad, he discovers that there was once a secret band of men and women during the Second World War who also had superpowers like Owen’s. They were called The Remarkables.
The book is geared towards a young adult audience, but I cannot see why older readers would not enjoy it also. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under the age of eleven or twelve though. There are only a couple of instances of mild cursing in the book, but the themes are probably less suited to a younger reader.
As for which genre it belongs to: I’m open to suggestions! There’s a bit of urban fantasy and sci-fi in there, superheroes, a couple of flashbacks into the past. It’d be great to hear where people think it slots into best!
Why did you write your book? Did anything specific inspire it?
The genesis of the story was with Owen’s power. I’m guilty of daydreaming a lot, and thought it would be really cool to be able to do what Owen does. At the time I didn’t really think about how he does what he does (which is sort of explained in the book), I just wished I had that ability! I then thought more about what other powers would be great to have, and the idea of a gang of empowered people started to form in my mind. Whilst I love superheroes like Batman and the X-Men, I really liked the idea of seemingly ordinary people being able to do extraordinary things, without the Batmobile or the X-Jet and such.
Other parts of the book were inspired by a bit of travelling I did. The title, The Remarkables, is a mountain range in New Zealand (it’s the one you see the Beacons of Gondor being lit upon in The Return of the King), and the sheer majesty and strength that they have seemed to fit the idea I had for my group of characters.
One of the central concepts of the book is the idea that our world is part of a multiverse. I won’t go into too much detail as it would spoil the plot I think!
Tell us a little about your books characters.
The main character is Owen Johnson. He’s sixteen and lives with his dad and brother, his mum dying eleven years earlier. I wanted Owen to be as normal a teenager as possible, and wanted to avoid him being overly popular or brilliant at everything, so that his superpower had more resonance. I’m also interested to see how an ordinary person can be affected by having such a thing as power thrust upon them, and that’s something I will explore more as the story continues.
Owen’s next-door neighbor is Mrs. Argyle, a woman who looks like she is in her late seventies, but rarely acts her age. Again I can’t go into too many details as it spoils the plot, but I get very angry with people who are ageist and dismiss the elderly, so I wanted a really strong character that is a bit advanced in years. In my experience it’s only in the fantasy genre where the old are given any respect (Gandalf and the Hogwarts teachers spring to mind) so I wanted someone in a contemporary setting to be respected.
Then there is Katie who has been Owen’s friend for many years. She’s headstrong and feisty but thinks the world on Owen, who in turn harbors a secret crush on her.
Other members of The Remarkables appear later on, including Mrs. Argyle’s brother and a guy called Clive. It was so much fun thinking up what powers they may have, and I tried to tie them into their personalities. Then there is an old wizard like man called Fafnir that they meet up with later. I’m a big fan of old English myths and legends, and there’s some loose links between Fafnir and certain old tales. They’re not integral to the main storyline, but they are there if people spot them. One of the other characters I’m fond of is a perpetually happy young woman called Ellie. Part of her backstory revolves around her losing an arm. I have so much respect and admiration for amputees, and I wanted to include a character whose perceived disability has much less effect on her life than on those around her.
The main protagonist at the start is a mysterious person known as Trilby, based on the trilby hat he wears. Part of the storyline is Owen and Mrs Argyle trying to figure out why Trilby is pursuing and seemingly attacking them wherever they hide. On the side-lines there are also the people that kidnap Owen’s dad.
Do you have a favorite among your characters? If so, why are they your favorite?
Mrs. Argyle is a fun character to write. She seems to be grumpy, but she’s very soft at heart. Clive was a particular joy, as I plan to develop his character more in the next book and enjoyed planting the seeds of his complicated past in this book. When I read books that have more than one part, I really get a thrill when a tiny snippet of detail from an earlier book is shown to be important in a later one, and vice versa.
Number one character for me? It’s got to be Myrtle!
Now tell us a little about yourself.
I’m in my early thirties and live slap bang in the middle of England. I used to write short stories when I was younger, but neglected to do so when I had to get a job! I live with my wife and my daughter, who will be one year old next month.
If you haven’t answered this already, do you have a job besides writing?
I train people in hospitals on how to do certain clinical procedures. Prior to that I was a nurse in Emergency Medicine.
Are you working on any new books? If so, tell us about them.
I’m busily working on a sequel to The Remarkables. I had intended the book to be a one off, but I enjoyed the concept and the characters so much I couldn’t leave them be. With the sequel there’s a lot more detail on the missions that were undertaken in the War. A lot of it is set in Brazil, which I was fortunate to visit and knew I had to write about the amazing places I had visited. It also explains more about the origins of the powers and the wider world.
Do you do a lot of reading? And what are a few of your favorite books and authors?
I read all the time! I travel to work by train so having a Kindle was a godsend (my bag used to weigh a ton from all the books I stuffed into it). I have no favorite author to be honest, as I read most genres. A lot of books I return to over and over. Once a year I re-read The Lord of the Rings, as every time I read it I notice new little details. I really enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy, and admire Suzanne Collins immensely for the incredibly detailed world she created. I’ve just finished the latest book in CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series, which are all about a hunchback lawyer in the time of Henry VIII.
Thanks to Goodreads, I’ve also discovered lots of books by self-published authors, some of which are just as good if not better than traditional authors.
Currently your book is only available as and eBook on Amazon. Do you have any plans on making the book available anywhere besides Amazon?
At the moment it’s only available on Amazon, but in the next couple of months I plan to pop it up on Smashreads, Barnes and Noble and others. The reason why it’s Amazon only at the moment, was because I entered it into the Kindle select promotion, to see if people want to borrow it for free.
Do you have a website, a blog, or both?
I have a blog:http://adelliott.wordpress.com/ , but it’s in the early stages. I’m a bit neglectful of it at the moment, as most of my spare time is spent beavering away on the sequel to The Remarkables.
What about social networking? Do you have any book or author fan sites?
I’m on twitter (@returnmyjedi) but it’s a bit neglected too! As soon as I have time, I will return to tweeting. I have no other sites, but am looking at options.
Because there is a cow in your book, I would like to ask a few questions about this. First of all, why did you choose a cow? Second, do you feel the cow is an important character in your book? And third, if you know anything about cows in general, are there any interesting or little known facts about cows that you could share with us?
Myrtle was inspired by two other cows. The first inspiration is from the album cover to The Pink Floyd album, “Atom Heart Mother.” Originally Myrtle was a Friesian cow, but I changed this to a highland cattle as the plot developed.
The second inspiration was from a cow that I encountered whilst walking in a hilly part of the UK called the Peak District. I was walking along a rocky edge and there was this cow staring back at me. For some reason I had the impression that the intelligence behind its eyes that we as humans don’t credit animals as having. Myrtle isn’t really an integral character to the story, but I couldn’t see any reason why superpowers should be reserved for human like characters, as they so often are. I also drew inspiration from various mythologies, where humans were assisted by animals to achieve magical feats.
Cow facts? They can climb up stairs, but not down them (something to do with their knees). They only have one stomach, which has four compartments (as opposed to four separate stomachs). If you want to escape from a swamp or bog and you have a choice of a cow or a horse to ride on, choose the cow (they’re toes can spread and don’t sink like horses’ hooves do). Finally, cows have an incredibly strong sense of smell and can detect odors from up to six miles away (this might come in handy for Myrtle in the next book….)
Before I wrap up, do you have any pets? If so, tell us about them.
I have two cats, a brother and sister called Sid and Nancy. They never shut up.
Is there anything else you would like to talk about or share with us?
Firstly, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. Without good people like you, we Indie authors would never flourish. Secondly, if anyone wants to suggest an animal to appear in book number two, let me know. I’ve got a spare slot and I’m toying with what kind of creature to include. I’ve got Myrtle, and there’s a bird that appears at the beginning. But if anyone has a favorite other animal, I’m willing to try and pop it in!
Best wishes to everyone
And now for a quick update from me, the author of this blog.
Andy now has a Facebook page! You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/theremarkablesnovel