Blog Tour: Defender of the Realm by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler
2 March, 2016
Today I’m here as part of the Defender of the Realm blog tour. I have an interview with Mark and Nick and ten reasons why I think you should be reading this book! Enjoy!
Title: Defender of the Realm (Defender of the Realm #1) Author: Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler Publisher: Scholastic Published: 3rd March 2016 Pages: PAGES Format: Paperback Source:: Review Copy Add It:Goodreads, Amazon UK
Summary: Super-villains. Hungry monsters. One kid to stop them all. Meet King Alfie: fourteen-year-old British monarch and Defender of the Realm. Alfie never expected to become king so young. He definitely didn’t expect to become a legendary superhero: the Defender. Which means fighting an ancient secret battle against mega-villains and evil monsters. All while grappling with adoring crowds, paparazzi and minders. Now the terrible Black Dragon is rising. Only Alfie can stop him. Think being a king is just about wearing a crown? Wrong.
1. It’s a fast-paced, action packed, fantasy novel that will have you gripped with tension.
2. It is also full of humour and will have you awkwardly laughing out loud at various times throughout.
3. There is an awkward, bumbling mess of a protagonist in Alfie that you can’t help but love!
4. Plus a kick-ass, super awesome heroine in Hayley – the perfect teenage role model for girls!
5. Super awesome gadjets that sound amazing; things that I am quite honestly jealous not to have.
6. Wyvern. The most fantastic horse in all of history – supernatural and otherwise!
7. With screenwriting duo – Mark Huckerby + Nick Ostler on board, everything is so easily imagined and great to follow too.
8. It is a novel with a lot of depth that is also just surrounded by childlike wonder and awesomeness.
9. Descriptive writing, fantastic plot, wonderful and vibrant characters – what’s not to love!
10. It is the beginning of what is likely to be an absolutely incredible series that is sure to be liked by Adults and Children alike!
Interview with Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler
Where did the idea for the story come from?
We were thinking about superheroes and why there weren’t really any famous British ones. We have iconic heroes, of course, from legend and fiction, like Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, but that’s not quite the same. So we were trying to imagine what a British superhero might look like and why they would HAVE to be British. What do we have in the U.K. that America, for example, does not? And that’s when we started to think about royalty. What a strange and interesting phenomenon it is, how it has changed over the centuries and yet is still there in our everyday lives, from the coins in our pockets to the names of the pubs we might spend them in! And the more we looked at the history and ritual of British monarchy, the more similarities we saw with how superhero myths work – alter egos, mysterious powers, arch-enemies. It very quickly felt exciting. One of those lying-awake-in-the-middle-of-the-night ideas that demands to be written!
Do you plot every detail or just see where the story takes you?
Because there are two of us, and we draft chapters separately, we always outline in quite a lot of detail first. Although I think we would both do that anyway. It’s very easy to write a terrific opening to a story, but we would very quickly get in a mess if we didn’t know where we were going after that! But that said, we both find it fun to read what the other has written because it’s never comes out exactly as you might have imagined it – there’s always some detail or joke or fresh point of view that occurs to you during the writing, which ends up surprising us – even if we end up rewriting it a dozen times!
What is your favourite drink or snack to eat while you write? Nick: Tea. Too much tea. Bananas and nuts if I’m being good, biscuits if I’m not. Mark: Coffee. Dark chocolate and nuts!
Do you listen to music while you write, and if you do, what were you listening to while you wrote Defender of the Realm? Nick: Not usually, no. I tend to need peace and quiet to concentrate. Although the opera that the theatre lighting designer who works in the next door office listens to sometimes drifts through and I don’t mind that at all. Mark: Yes. Once upon a time I’d listen to my playlists but I’d find myself getting carried away lip synching and air-guitaring too much. Nowadays, I like Bach, cello concertos, Goldberg Variations, anything. I can get in a zone where I’m hearing the music and enjoying it on one level but working on something else at the same time! As far as Defender of the Realm goes, I was actually listening a lot to Handel’s Coronation Anthems. “Zadok the Priest” has been sung at every coronation of the British monarch since the early 18th century.
Are you characters based on anyone you know? If yes, who?
Not directly, no. But we hope that the memories of what it was like to be fourteen years old were useful when we were getting inside Alfie and Hayley’s heads. We thought the general idea of being that young and having great responsibility placed on your shoulders was an intriguing thing to explore for both Alfie and Hayley.
None of the royal family members in the book were based on any real individual, but the one real historical figure we did read a lot about in preparation was Alfred the Great. His was such a fascinating story – a very young man thrown in at the deep end in a time of great peril for our country, which was under assault from the Vikings. No-one expected Alfred to survive for long and yet he became one of the greatest, if not still the greatest monarch we’ve ever had in terms of what he achieved. In Defender of the Realm, Alfie shares a mysterious and powerful connection with his ancestor and the whole trajectory of his story is in some ways a modern retelling of the Alfred the Great story – though to say too much more about that would be to spoil surprises we have in store for book two and beyond!
If you had to summarise the book in a tweet (140 characters) what would you say?
The hapless, new young king of the U.K. discovers he is also a now a superhero charged with defending the country from super-villains!
Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler are Emmy and BAFTA-nominated screenwriters best known for writing popular TV shows such as Danger Mouse and Thunderbirds Are Go!