Wednesday, 14 November 2012

E. Nesbit and Me

Some of you already know that I've recently had a Young Adult book published. Its title is Lady Molly & the Snapper: A Time Travel adventure set in Ireland and on the High Seas. Why would I want to write about Time Travel, you may well ask.

And I'm pretty sure that the major influence which led me to write on this subject was E. Nesbit.

Many of you when you hear the name E. Nesbit think immediately of The Railway Children. A very popular film based on a popular book, certainly. But what has it got to do with Time Travel? Well, nothing.

Five Children and It, also filmed, with the amazing Eddie Izzard as the voice of the Psammead, comes a little closer to the subject. (The prequel to Five Children and It, The Story of the Amulet is even more centred on Time Travel.)

But it was the first E. Nesbit book I ever read, The House of Arden, which originally introduced me to this fascinating idea, that characters in a book could go back in time. (I wasn't very old when I read it, obviously!)

Two children, Elfreda and Edred, are taken back in time by the Mouldiwarp, a mole who is the badge of their family, the Ardens, and there they search for the treasure buried at sometime in the past in the ruined castle which now belongs to Edred, the last Arden (as far as they know). Their plan is 'to restore the fortunes of the house of Arden.' The story is funny, exciting and full of interest – I can probably date my life long interest in History from reading this book.
(You can get most of these books free on Kindle.)

Of course, after that I read many more books about Time Travel, including E Nesbit's sequel to The House of Arden, Harding's Luck; watched stories on TV and saw films with similar themes; and eventually (see my last blog!) read C S Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, which, while not exactly Time Travel, is very similar.

So it's not too surprising that when I came to write my own take on a Young Adult book, I choose Time Travel as my theme – and sent my two main characters searching in the past for something which would change their present lives! (Apologies, E. Nesbit!)

If you missed out on the E. Nesbit books as a child, you can still read them as an adult. They are aimed at the same age group as the Narnia books – but I certainly believe (and Harry Potter has clearly demonstrated this) that children's books can be enjoyed equally by adults.

My own Lady Molly is aimed at a slightly older age group. It should, therefore, be even easier for adults to enjoy, I hope!

My characters are Jik and Nora, a brother and sister in their early teens living in Dublin, and Lady Molly is the name of the boat owned by their father Colm. At the start of the book Colm is drinking heavily after his wife's death from cancer, and neglecting his children, who are pretty angry with him and think he should get over it. Nora goes to church to light a candle and is terrified when the statue of an old sailor saint seems to come to life and tower over her.

She flees home. But later that day she and Jik go to look at Lady Molly where she's moored in Howth marina (near Dublin) and meet up with that same sailor saint, who introduces himself as The Snapper – a nickname he was given because people thought he was bad tempered, he tells them, though he claims that he's not really like that at all! (Similar to the Psammead? Well, not too similar, I hope!)

Jik and Nora are taken back in time on a number of occasions by The Snapper, using Lady Molly as a sort of Tardis, and arriving every time on another boat. They meet Cuchulain, the legendary Irish warrior; Saint Patrick; Grainne the female Irish pirate; and eventually a crowd of Irish emigrants on a famine ship sailing to America.

And meanwhile things begin to change in their present lives.

Especially for Nora, who finds a relationship blossoming between herself and Sean, who keeps appearing in their various adventures, and who turns out to be someone they already know.

You may think by now I've told you the whole plot. Far from it – this is just the start!

It's a well known fact that it's hard to find a market if you write a book which is very different from your usual genre. So far my books – Belfast Girls, Danger Danger, and Angel in Flight: An Angel Murphy Thriller – have all been a mix of romance and thriller. I suppose that's what my public expects from me. A YA book is stepping over that line and people automatically assume it isn't for them.

All I'm saying is, this has the same mix of romance and thrills – okay, it's mainly aimed at a younger audience – but so was Harry Potter!

Why not try it and see – you might even enjoy it. Or you could always give it to a young family member or friend – after all, Christmas is coming up !

Keep well and keep happy! See you soon again!


  1. As always Gerry a great article, and very informative.

  2. Replies
    1. That's great, Patricia –glad you were interested – we aim to please!