Books


YOUNG HOUDINI



Mystery-adventure featuring the young Harry Houdini. I’ve always been fascinated by Houdini – and what might have happened in his childhood to make him such an extraordinary man. I decided to invent an Alternative History. What if the few facts we know of Houdini’s childhood – that he grew up fairly peacefully with his family in Appleton, Wisconsin – turned out to have been a cover-up, devised later in order to conceal a far more thrilling and dangerous truth? After all, Houdini made up plenty of other things about himself…

What if young Harry became separated from his family when they travelled to America from Hungary? What if he ended up alone on the streets of New York, learning magic in order to survive? What if those remarkable skills of illusion and escape then embroiled him in a series of mysterious investigations – and in the service of a secretive international organization? My Harry – together with his friends Billie and Arthur – would end up travelling across late 19th century America and Europe, solving mysteries and defeating notorious criminals. Maybe they would eventually arrive back in Budapest, and delve into the secret of what happened to Harry’s family to make them flee to America…

So: a speculative history. I researched Harry’s life carefully, gathering all sorts of information about this already quite enigmatic figure – and then used it to construct my alternative narrative…

Oxford University Press commissioned the series; Sourcebooks acquired the US rights. Film and TV rights have been sold too. Book One – The Magician’s Fire – came out in October 2014 in the US, and across the rest of the world in February 2015. Book Two – The Demon Curse – publishes Summer 2015.



THE OLDMOOR ORPHANS
















My first book was THE OLDMOOR ORPHANS, published by Tick Tock in 2010. It’s about two children called Ernest and Daisy who have been left in charge of an old hotel called Oldmoor Hall. It used to be run by their grandmother, but she has mysteriously disappeared, leaving only a note:

“Take charge of the hotel. I may be some time. Look after the Guests. Any questions, ask Samson.”

(NB Samson is the hotel’s talking parrot. He’s no good for answering questions, because he is insane, and addicted to practical jokes.)

So, Ernest and Daisy take charge. They look after the rickety old hotel, polishing, cleaning, repairing. But their main challenge is the Guests. Why is it that only utterly peculiar people come to stay at Oldmoor Hall? One by one, they wander out of the thick fog that surrounds the hotel. They push open the front door, ring the bell on the counter, and Ernest and Daisy have to look after them…

THE OLDMOOR ORPHANS was very well-received – Waterstones chose it for their All Summer Promotion that year – not bad for a first book. It was beautifully published by Melissa Fairley at Tick Tock (Melissa’s now in charge of Picture Books at Egmont) and wonderfully illustrated by David Wyatt (a legend in the world of children’s illustration). At some point I might turn my thoughts to a sequel…