Great Summer Reads 2020 Countdown Blitz Day 3!

A graduate of Exeter University in the early 1980s, I spent 20 years as a teacher of French, Latin and Classical studies, before a change of career led me to writing children's fiction. Currently residing in Abu Dhabi, I live with my husband and our beautiful Tonkinese cat.

The Shadow of Atlantis is the first in a series of time-travel adventures, featuring 3 children and a rather special cat called Max. I'm now working on the 17th book, The Shadow of the Great Fire. The series also includes several novellas that feature Max the talking Tonkinese cat undertaking solo adventures. As I take my young readers on a magical mystery tour through the past, I'm hoping that my love of history, myth and legend will rub off on them too. 

Ten-year-old twins Jemima and Joe Lancelot have no idea why their parents have disappeared, but a mysterious old book belonging to their father holds the answer … and so begins a quest to uncover the truth. 

Together with Max their Tonkinese cat, and Charlie from next door, the children embark on an epic adventure, travelling back in time to the lost city of Atlantis, unaware of the dangers that await them. 

Can they save the people of Atlantis from the disaster which is about to destroy their land forever? And will they find their way back to the safety of their own time before it's too late?

The Shadows from the Past time-travel adventures for Middle Grade readers take place over the course of the school summer holidays. The Shadow of Atlantis is the first book in the series and this is where it all begins. As the mystery unfolds, my young heroes embark on a magical journey into the past and a quest to unlock the secrets of an old book that is a gateway into the pages of history. 

Q&A With the Author:

1.  What do you like to do when you're not writing?
One of my hobbies is genealogy – researching my family history. At times, it’s like doing a complicated jigsaw and can be so exciting when you find a missing part of the puzzle. I use names from my family tree for the characters in my books.
2. What was the hardest part of writing your book, and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part was getting started. The Shadow of Atlantis was my first book and, although I’d had the idea for the whole series, not just this book, and had made copious notes, it was quite daunting when it came to writing the story. Fingers poised over the keyboard, facing a blank screen, there was a moment of real self-doubt when I wondered whether I’d actually manage to write anything at all. So, taking a deep breath, I made myself begin and was amazed at how quickly I lost myself in the story… and once I started I just couldn’t stop! Now, if ever I’m sitting at my laptop, waiting for inspiration to strike, I just look at my row of books lined up on the shelf and remind myself that I CAN do it!
3. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Greece and Italy are amongst my favourite destinations, because I love being surrounded by so much history. Of course, Italian food, especially the ice cream, is a big draw too! However, what I’d really like to be able to do is travel back in time like the characters in my books. Exploring the past would be so fascinating.
4. Where do you get information and ideas for your books?
When I embarked upon my writing journey, I stuck to the “Write about what you know” mantra. So, having taught Classical Studies, it seemed logical to set my stories in the ancient world, hence the first book in the series – The Shadow of Atlantis. Following on from Atlantis, my young time-travellers gradually move forward through the pages of history and each adventure is centred around a famous myth, legend or historical episode. I indulged myself by choosing my favourites, but I hope that I’ve also picked events that might already be familiar to many of my readers. If not, I hope they’ll learn something new while enjoying an exciting adventure. As the narrative moves forward in time, I’m doing a fair bit of extra research because I’m a stickler for historical accuracy. I read non-fiction books on the subject matter, but also find that Google is my friend!
5. What inspired you to become an author?
I’d always wanted to write but, with a busy teaching career, I never seemed to find enough time. When I stopped teaching I found myself in the enviable position of having plenty of spare time and realised that I could now set off along a new career path. Writing for children seemed the logical step after so many years spent in the classroom and, ever the teacher, my books are designed to educate as well as entertain. This is often mentioned in the reviews I receive, such as this one from Readers’ Favorite:
“education and adventure go hand in hand with these books.”
6. What is your favorite writing snack?
A cup of tea and a stem ginger biscuit.

7. Tell us a bit about a future project you are working on? Do you have any little sneak peeks you can share?
I’m currently working on book number 17 in my time-travel series (there will be 25 titles in total when it’s finished). The Shadow of the Great Fire is set during the Great Fire of London that happened in 1666; the story is packed with historical detail, but my young time-travellers and Max the Tonkinese are in for a hair-rising adventure, filled with plenty of mystery and intrigue. They will also meet some famous people from that period, including Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Christopher Wren and King Charles II.

8. Now that we've gotten to know each other, tell us a story of a favorite childhood activity you used to do during the summer. It can be long or short. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it's yours. Tell us a story?
I may be looking back on my childhood through rose-tinted spectacles, but I’m fortunate that my memories of summer are happy ones. When school broke up in July, the six-week break seemed to stretch endlessly ahead, with the promise of sun-filled days and freedom to play outside with my friends. In the days before computers, electronic games, streamed movies and mobile phones, we were pretty much left to entertain ourselves. We didn’t do anything particularly exciting – just hanging out together, going out on our bikes and creating adventures of our own, but I don’t ever recall feeling bored or complaining that there was nothing to do! It’s with a pang of nostalgia that I remember those carefree, long summer days when life was so much simpler. Without the pressures of modern life, they were innocent times when we were able to enjoy just being kids.

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