Barclay banks on dark tales for young adults
There’s a timely quality to the tale, given Oland’s miserable experience at the hands of his masters. “I feel so strongly about bullying. I just think it’s so heartbreaking. For anyone who has suffered it, and it’s so prevalent at the moment – you see it in the newspapers every day. Oland suffers an extreme version of bullying but he is bullied physically and emotionally and treated horrendously. What makes it worse for him is that it’s the only world he knows.”
Despite the epic fantasy context, Oland has no magical powers or access to enchanted weapons. He is thrown back on his own resources, and particularly his untapped reserves of courage. “I’m always intrigued by the concept of inner strength. Because it’s impossible to know what’s inside you until you’re faced with a situation that tests you to your limits.
“I suppose I’ve never felt limited by anything,” she continues. “I’ve said before crime fiction used to be considered a more masculine world, but that wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest as a woman and a writer. It just wouldn’t enter my head not to write something I wanted to. If I got inspired in the morning to write a cookbook, then I’d do it. I don’t know how my publisher would feel about it,” she chuckles, “but I’d do it. Nothing would stop me.
“At one point during the writing I paused and I realised that this was what I used to do when I was 10 years old. And here I am, still doing it.”
She laughs. “I probably do feel like I’m a big child at the best of times, and now it’s been confirmed.”
Crime for teenagers
John Connollyis best known for his supernatural-tinged Charlie Parker series of private-eye novels. He published The Book of Lost Things in 2006, a story that blended fairytale and mythology. More recently he has published the Samuel Johnson series of children’s books, beginning with The Gates (2009).
Eoin McNameeis the author of Resurrection Man (1994) and The Ultras (2004) and will publish the third of his Blue trilogy, Blue is the Night, later this year. McNamee has also published a pair of trilogies for children and young adults, the Navigator trilogy and the Ring of Five trilogy.
Cora Harrisonwrites historical crime fiction set on the Burren in Clare during the 15th century, featuring the Brehon judge Mara. She also writes the award-winning series The London Murder Mysteries, the first of which, The Montgomery Murder (2011), was selected for the Blue Peter Book Club.
Colin Batemanhas published 22 adult crime novels, the most recent of which was The Prisoner of Brenda (2012). He has also written eight titles for children and young adults, among them Reservoir Pups (2003) and Fire Storm (2010).
Curse of Kings by Alex Barclay is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books