Friday, July 19, 2013

Philip Coleman, The Master's Book, plus #giveaway

AUTHOR: Philip Coleman
BOOK TITLE: The Master’s Book                 
Also available on Amazon and on Barnes and Noble
GIVEAWAY?: I can open up for comments for a week inviting responders to tell me of a teenager they know who would like the book and then give a copy to the person who offers the most interesting response. Be sure to leave contact information when you respond!

Tell me a little about your book.
The book concerns an Irish boy, Sean Byrne, who has just moved to Brussels with his family. The story opens with a family row when his mother discovers that the previous occupant of their house was murdered. His interest is piqued. In school he meets the pretty Stephanie Clarke and falls for her instantly. When they make a find in his basement their lives are in danger. The story concerns art theft and, although set in the present day, relates to events in the Middle ages, and in World Wars I and II. It has been described as “Da Vinci Code for kids” and, although I write in a very different style from Dan Brown, there are some parallels.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I wanted to set a story in Brussels because the three years I lived there when my children were entering their teens were a very happy and vivid experience. Brussels and Belgium are not as boring as they are sometimes made out to be; they are full of history and I wanted to convey this in the atmosphere of the book.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Part-time! I’m a biologist by background and I work for WWF in Switzerland. I write when I can; it’s difficult to allocate time.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
It was in the back of my mind since I was a teenager but, apart from a few youthful efforts at that time, I didn’t do anything about it until I reached my late 40s. Reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy spurred me to try my hand at it.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
It’s not intended as a history lesson – the history is just to give it atmosphere and mystery. I hope that readers can relate to the way Sean feels, especially if they have lived abroad themselves in their childhood. But above all I hope my work is fun to read.

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
Perhaps because of Philip Pullman’s influence I seemed to fall naturally into young adult writing. Good children’s and young adult books are among the most satisfying genre to read but I read all kinds of stuff.

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Oh God, where do I start? Finding the time and energy to write when I have a day job, trying to write when the flow isn’t there, wondering if what you’ve written is terrible (sometimes it is!), but above all GETTING PUBLISHED!!!

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
There is a crabby neighbor in the story who, when she dies, we find out some unexpected and startling facts about her life. Her story is real. There is also an incident where Sean’s sister uses an Italian swear-word – that came from my daughter!

How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
There is a bit of me in him as I was at his age. Although he is wittier and more self-assured, his self-doubt when faced with a girl he likes is typical of me at that time – but of many teenagers when they first fall in love.  Neither he nor his sister is like my children. Physically, Stephanie is based on two beautiful mixed-race sisters that were in my children’s classes but her character is her own. 

What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I had to read up a bit on Mary of Burgundy, the last Duchess of that region, which included most of modern Belgium in the 15th Century, and on the beautiful illuminated manuscripts which were created for her by the anonymous artist known as the Master of Mary of Burgundy (the master of the title).

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Well, explicitly sexual scenes wouldn’t have been appropriate for my readership and I find that most attempts to write explicit sex scenes are cheesy anyway. Writing about violence doesn’t bother me except that I agonise between wanting to convey the horror and shock, and not wanting to seem as if I’m writing wound porn.

What about your book makes it special?
I would say the two main characters, which readers seem to like, and the way that it turns history into mystery.

What is your marketing plan?
My Facebook page is I am creating a new website, and I’ve just started on twitter (PColemanAuthor). I’ve been a guest on a number of blogs already.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
For now go to my Facebook page, but my website will be ready next month.

Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Don’t imagine it’s going to be easy! But it can be great fun. So go for it and DON’T GIVE UP!

What’s in the future for you?
I’m working on a sequel to The Master’s Book and I have a sci-fi novel on the back burner.