No-one performs on the circus trapeze like 16-year-old Remy Brunel. But
Remy also leads another life, prowling through the backstreets of
Victorian London as a jewel thief. When she is forced to steal one of
the world’s most valuable diamonds, she uncovers a world of treachery
and fiendish plots, and makes a friend of a nice young police
us a little bit about yourself?
Hmm. Well, I’ve been writing for a
long time. I always wanted to write fiction, but I also had to find a way of
supporting myself. I started out when I was a teenager – I found a book in the
library about how to make money from writing, and took a lot of advice from that.
I began writing articles for a local magazine in Tunbridge Wells while I was
still at school, and then they took me on as a staff writer during my gap year.
I also wrote book reviews and occasional features for a national magazine.
Then, when I graduated from University, a company called Titan took me on as a
staff writer, and I eventually got the opportunity to write some non-fiction
books for them. Then I went freelance and did all sorts of things such as
working on audio dramas (which was great for sharpening my dialogue skills!) and
sub editing for magazines as varied as heat
and Doctor Who Adventures. So it’s
been a long, circuitous route to fiction publication.
young adult title: The Diamond Thief – what’s it all about?
It’s a steampunk-ish adventure set
in Victorian London, and follows the exploits of a young French circus artist
called Rémy Brunel. She’s one of the best trapeze and high-wire performers in
the world – and she’s also an excellent jewel thief. She’s brought to London by
the master of her circus to steal a famous diamond called the Darye ye Noor,
but she doesn’t bank on running into Thaddeus Rec, a young policeman who’s
determined to keep the jewel safe. Together they discover dark and nefarious
deeds going on right in the heart of London.
there be a sequel?
Yes – I delivered it to Curious Fox
a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m nervously waiting for notes. It’s called The Ruby Airship, and it’s due to be on
shelves in February 2014.
you pull from your own life experience’s to write your stories?
I think all writers do that to a
greater or lesser extent, although I have absolutely no experience as a trapeze
artist… or a thief, I might add!
you have a favourite character in your book and why?
It’s hard to think of one favourite,
as I love them all. I do like J, the street urchin who ends up firm friends
with Rémy, which is funny because he wasn’t a character I’d planned on having in
the story at all. The Diamond Thief
was originally written as a digital version of a choose-your-own-adventure
story for a great publisher called Fiction Express. The idea was that each
week, I’d write a chapter and there would be three distinctly different choices
of where the plot could go at the end. The readers then voted on what they
wanted to happen and I’d go off and write it in time for the following week. At
the end of the second week, the readers chose something completely different to
what I’d had in my head, which threw Rémy into a situation where she was on her
own. It made sense for her to have someone to interact with, so that was where
J came from. He turned up in my head fully-formed, as if he’d just walked up to
my desk and tapped me on the shoulder as I wrote. I wish that happened more often.
do you think of names for your character?
I find character names really
difficult, actually. With Rémy, I literally looked up lists of French names and
went through them until I found one that I thought would fit. It’s unusual
enough (for British readers, anyway) that it sounds a little exotic, but also
short enough to reflect her no-nonsense character. With Thaddeus, I wanted
something that was distinctly Victorian, and that name fit the bill perfectly
for me – it’s a bit florid, a bit archaic. Calling J by just one letter
reflects how his life is – he’s nothing, really, just another ragamuffin from
the streets who has come from nowhere and has nowhere to go. He’s of such
little significance to the world that no one even knows his name – probably not
you were a character in one of your books would you be good or evil?
I think all realistic characters,
like real people, have the capacity to be both. I’d like to think I’d be good,
but it depends what situation my character found itself in…
inspired you to write?
Well, my parents read to me and
taught me to read at a very young age. We didn’t have a TV until I was a
teenager, so that probably encouraged me to make up my own stories. I remember
an author called Nigel Hinton coming to my primary school, which was probably
the first time I realised that ‘A Writer’ was something that you could actually
be. In my secondary school I was lucky enough to have a teacher called Penny
Sampson, who had greater faith in my abilities than I did myself, and was very
encouraging. So the answer is all of those people, as well as the hundreds of
authors I read growing up.
was your favourite childhood story?
I loved Roald Dahl’s Matilda.
advice would you give to budding authors?
Try to get words down every day.
Remember – even if you only write 200 words a day, if you do that every day for
a year, that’s a manuscript. Also, don’t edit - just get it down. Once it’s out
there, in however messy or skeletal a form, you can work on it. If it stays a
perfect idea sealed away in your head, it’s no good to anyone.
Single answer questions:
Dark or Brown chocolate?
Sunday Roast or Fish and Chips?
Rock and Roll or Heavy Metal?
Rock and Roll.
Bright and flowery or Dark and
Dark and mysterious.
Scooby Doo or Garfield?
Where can we find your books and
more information about you?
The Diamond Thief is in various bookshops
and is also available on Amazon. I’ve got a Facebook page under Sharon Gosling
for anyone who wants to know what I’m up to!
I came to writing after careers as actor, advertising executive and theatre manager.
In that journey, there was an appearance in DR WHO (the Peter Davison Years), and
amongst my TV writing credits are episodes of ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL, BERGERAC,
and THE BILL. My books for young people have been published by The Bodley Head, Bloomsbury,
Red Fox, Scholastic, The Oxford University Press, and now Skyhorse. A return to
acting began with a part in the Granada Kids series, “My Parents are Aliens” ...
Photograph by Lucin Marshall
us about Wanderer?
Wanderer is a YA novel set far in the future in a world where just
about everything is broken. The action takes place in a massive valley which is
very hot and which holds two kinds of people: the Wanderers, who roam the
valley scavenging; and the Arconites, who rarely venture out of their pyramid
city, in which life is more sophisticated. However, there’s a price to pay for
that. It’s a restrictive, tightly controlled society, while the Wanderers have
greater personal freedom. We follow a teenage Wanderer, Kean, and a girl in
Arcone – Essa. Kean is a self-reliant guy and Essa chafes at the restrictions
of her life and begins to get a little too adventurous … Their paths come
together when conflict looms between the Wanderers and the city dwellers. If
there’s a message it’s about the power of the human spirit and how you need
people around you.
you want to write for a YA audience?
I don’t have a whole, perfect answer there. Just a fragment of an
answer. Which is that I remember so clearly how much pleasure I got from
reading when I was a teenager. I still enjoy books, but since then they’ve
never had quite the same impact on me. Other than that, it’s a mystery to me
that these are the novels I write.
inspires you to write?
Don’t know about being inspired to write. I’m compelled to write –
that might be the way to put it. Needing to communicate … Wanting an audience,
trying to say something. Hoping to entertain as I’ve been entertained … Wanting
to reach someone … That’s magic, the
idea of having a reader somewhere who’s immersed in something you’ve put
together, a stranger, far away. And – let’s face it – there’s also the
knowledge that if I don’t ‘do writing’ I might have to do something I
definitely don’t want to do.
If you could
be one of your characters which one would you choose and why?
In ‘Wanderer’, I’d be Hawkerman. He’s closer to my age than the
two lead parts and I’d like to be as cool as he is. He’s tough and practical
and great at what he does – which is to lead a team whose only aim is survival.
It’s quite late on when you discover that deep down he’s a caring sort of man.
like to live in the world you’ve created for your reader?
Absolutely not. Too much danger, too much heat. But I like reading
books where the characters have to struggle against the elements as well as
each other. Did you ever do that thing of reading a book set in the snow or the
North Pole or somewhere and you’re all warm by a fire? Brilliant.
What is your
Mmn. I’m circling a few. The trouble is I write for various formats
and I’m always hopping between them. If there was enough encouragement, the
thing I’d like to do most is to start another book. In the meantime I’m
reworking a YA novel that hasn’t yet been picked up by a publisher but which
(of course) I believe in through and through. It’s a kind of modern Gothic
horror story, quite dark and disturbing, set in London. I’m making notes for a
stage play, too, far too slowly, and a radio play. Meanwhile I’ve got a play
being considered by a couple of theatres in the UK and an idea going forward to
Radio 4 and a ten minute film waiting to be made in New England. If all that
sounds very busy, well, really it’s not half busy enough and there’s no
guarantee that any of these things will happen or pay off. So what I’m really engaged in is a process I call
‘Fiddling while Rome burns.’ That’s a phrase that comes from the legend that
the Emperor Nero set light to Rome and then watched the conflagration while
playing his violin. Or whatever the Roman equivalent was.
would you give to budding authors?
Write what you want to write. Something that excites you, so you
can get up in the morning (or settle down in the evening) and do it. With (a lot of) luck, what you
want to write will be what people want to read. Leave the ‘what sells’ kind of
thinking till later. That’s not how to start being a writer. It’s just so
important to come out of the blocks doing your own thing.
people get your book and find out more about you?
Though it’s published by Sky Pony Press in America, in England
‘Wanderer’ is available in hardback from online booksellers including the usual
suspects, and as a Kobo e-book, and as an audio book. In America you can get it
online, as an audio book and in a Kindle edition. I don’t think it’s giving
away too much to say that the story is set in the States. It needed a big
country and there are kind of frontier values in it. As for finding out about
me, that’s not too easy, though there is my website at www.rogerdavenport.co.uk. There’s
quite bit of info. there, and even an email address, but basically it’s very
static. So far I’ve not got into social media. They seem to be such a consumer
of life. I bet if Nero had been on Facebook and Twitter he’d never have had
time to set fire to Rome.