‘A fast-paced and thrilling debut – the first of an adventure trilogy featuring agent Will Starling’
Well now I am so excited to introduce you all to debut writer JD Fennell and I am honoured to be opening the blogtour for his YA crossover thriller, Sleeper.
Newly published by Dome Press, Sleeper has been described by renowned author James Patterson as ‘an exciting tale with pace and surprises. J.D. Fennell can write up a storm’
Belfast born Fennell has written an excellent post about his youth during The Troubles and his path to becoming a writer.
Please do continue reading this very personal piece…
I was born on a breezy summer day in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital, shortly before the start of the Troubles.
My parents had just returned from two years living and working in London. They had scrimped and saved and bought their first house in what became known as the last cross-community street in west Belfast. Springfield Park was sandwiched between the protestant Springmartin estate and the catholic Ballymurphy estate.
Forward thinking Catholics and Protestants bought their new homes in the same street only to find themselves at the heart of a three-way battle when the Troubles broke out;
a battle that would force my family to move to quieter suburbs some years later.
I attended St Gall’s Primary in Clonard where I was encouraged to write by my form teacher, Brother Gabriel, a paternal, pipe smoking man of God who ignited the writing ember in my soul. I watched the world around me crumbling. The streets became littered with broken glass and rocks; houses, cars and buses became bonfires. Guns, bombs and military occupation became commonplace and on the television and radio, harsh, angry voices bellowed the same hate messages over and over.
I remember covering my ears, trying to block out the noise that just seemed inescapable. In writing I found solace, therapy and a form of expression – these things I will be forever grateful to Brother Gabriel for.
There is no doubt my early upbringing influenced my debut novel.
Sleeper is set in London, during the second world war. Like Belfast, London is being eroded by death and destruction. The capital city, however, is crumbling in on itself, falling slowly under the might of nightly air raids. It is almost the perfect backdrop for an adventure story. More about that later.
From a young age I buried myself in a diverse range of books and spent a lot of time in libraries on the Falls Road, Linen Hall and Glengormley. My early reading material included Fleming, Tolkien, Shakespeare and the Brontës – wonderful books that still hold a special place in my heart today.
In my teenage years I continued to secretly write fiction from stories that I would cook up in my head. At the age of nineteen I left Belfast for the South of England, pursuing the same dreams my parents had when they left for London all those years ago. I worked constantly jobbing in bars and restaurants before accidentally stumbling into a career as an author in the software industry.
I began taking writing classes to learn a bit more about the craft and to connect with other writers (always a good tactic). Some classes were good, some not so good. I was learning a little but wanted to know more by studying how other novelists create their stories.
So, in 2011, I started a Masters in Creative Writing at at the University of Sussex and later graduated in 2013.
Sleeper is the story of sixteen year-old Will Starling, who has lost his memory after an attempt on his life. Will is no ordinary teenager, he has a past that makes him dangerous. He is recruited by Government agent and mentor, Eoin Heaney, a Belfast man, WW1 and Easter Rising veteran, to find the Stones of Fire, a mythical weapon of mass destruction. Will and Mi5 agent in training, Anna Wilder, follow leads across London in a race against time to save lives and also understand his past.
It seems like a cliche now to say I wrote the book I wanted to read. Yet, that was the case with Sleeper. I love novels with pace, suspense, surprises and twists entwined with enough emotion to keep the reader loving and clinging to the hero/heroine as they make their journey, be it an adventure, or a voyage of self discovery. The former is what I wanted to achieve with Sleeper. I pulled from early influences such as Herge’s Adventures of Tintin, John Buchan’s The Thirty Nine Steps and Ian Fleming’s Bond. All pacey adventures with the hero constantly in peril.
What’s not to love about that?
Purchase Link ~ Sleeper
Full book Info:
Sixteen-year-old Will Starling is pulled from the sea with no memory of his past. In his blazer is a strange notebook with a bullet lodged inside: a bullet meant for him. As London prepares for the Blitz, Will soon finds himself pursued by vicious agents and a ruthless killer known as the Pastor. All of them want Will’s notebook and will do anything to get it.
As Will’s memory starts to return, he realises he is no ordinary sixteen-year old. He has skills that make him a match for any assassin. But there is something else. At his core is a deep-rooted rage that he cannot explain. Where is his family and why has no one reported him missing?
Fighting for survival with the help of Mi5 agent-in-training, Anna Wilder, Will follows leads across London in a race against time to find the Stones of Fire before the next air raid makes a direct hit and destroys London forever.
Purchase Link ~ Sleeper
About JD Fennell
J.D. was born in Belfast at the start of the Troubles, and began writing stories at a young age to help understand the madness unfolding around him. A lover of reading, he devoured a diverse range of books – his early influences include Fleming, Tolkien, Shakespeare and the Brontës.
He left Belfast at the age of nineteen and worked as a chef, bartender, waiter and later began a career in writing for the software industry.
These days he divides his time between Brighton and London, where he lives with his partner and their two dogs.
You can find out more on : http://www.sleeperbook.com/