Tag Archives: Department 19: The Rising

Guest Author: Why I Read (And Write) Scary Books by Will Hill

Will Hill is the author of one of my favourite books of 2011, Department 19.  The sequel, Department 19: The Rising came out earlier this year and was even better.  To celebrate the release of The Rising, Will Hill wrote this fantastic guest post about why he reads (and writes) scary books.  Since it’s nearly Halloween I thought I’d re-post it. Enjoy his post and make sure you grab the Department 19 books for some seriously creepy, gory and action-packed reading.

When I was about 12 I was so scared by Stephen King’s It that I slept with the light on, having placed the book, a beautiful old library hardback with a terrifying oil-painted amusement park clown on the cover, in the middle of my bedroom floor where I could keep an eye on it.

It was the prologue that did it.

George Denbrough chases a paper boat down the flooded streets of his hometown, until he loses it down an overflowing drain. A drain in which he finds a friendly, charming clown. A clown that suddenly changes shape and pulls George’s arm off at the shoulder, leaving him to bleed to death in the rain and the rushing water.

That was it for me.

Not only was it the moment when I closed that particular book and asked my mum to take it back to the library for me, as I was too scared to touch the thing myself, but it was also when I first understood the power that certain books can possess. The power to scare you silly.

I wrote Department 19 because I wanted to tell a story, about an ordinary boy called Jamie Carpenter who is thrown into an extraordinary world where he is forced to sink or swim, where he finds out who he really is. But I’ll be totally honest – I wanted to scare readers as well. Not because I’m mean, or vicious, or some kind of sadist, but because I think that books have a unique quality that I wanted to take advantage of – how scary they are is limited only by the power of the reader’s imagination.

I can describe the vampires in Department 19 in as much detail as I choose, but the picture of them that appears in one reader’s head is still going to be very different to that in someone else’s. In films and TV, the monsters, the villains, the frightening and scary things, are fully formed and shown, decisions that the director and the makeup department have made and then presented to you, whole. That doesn’t mean they can’t be scary, not at all – The Exorcist, The Omen, the original A Nightmare On Elm Street, all scared the hell out of me when I was younger than I am now. But they’re a communal experience, where everyone who sees them sees the same thing.

Books are different. With books, it’s just the words on the page and the power of your own mind. It’s personal.

When I was a teenager, I went straight from reading children’s books to reading Stephen King, Clive Barker, James Herbert etc. My mother, who always encouraged me to read, and who would regularly bring me horror paperbacks home from the second-hand shops near where we lived, even though she didn’t really approve of them, would often ask me “Why do you read all that horrible stuff?” She still asks me that question, but now she also adds “How can you think of the horrible stuff you write?” I didn’t have an answer for her when I was younger, but I think I understand it a bit better now.

I loved (and still love) horror because nothing makes you feel more alive than staring into the darkness and confronting the things that scare you.

It’s placing yourself in harm’s way, without actually taking any physical risk. It’s like being on a rollercoaster – you know full well that it’s safe, you know that nothing genuinely bad is going to happen to you, but your heart is still pounding, your palms are still clammy, and you’re still wearing that slightly hysterical grin that is meant to show you’re not scared, but in fact gives you away completely. And while the ride may be horrible, may be a terrible, gut-churning ordeal that you never, ever, ever want to do again, when you get off at the other end, your legs wobbling and your face pale, the sensation of being alive, of having survived, is wonderful. It’s adrenaline and it’s probably mild hysteria, but ultimately it’s the primal, joyous sense of being alive.

That’s what scary books did for me.

Still do.

You can confront terrible things, evils both great and small, violence and pain and anguish and loss, and you can do it all from the comfort of your favourite chair, or lying in bed with a lamp on, the one that’s light doesn’t quite reach the corners of the room, the dark corners where things can hide, and wait. And if it gets too much, you can simply close the book, and come back to the real world for a while.

For some reason, the human brain seems to contain a tendency towards the masochistic; it’s the bit of your mind that looks at the rollercoaster tracks and thinks it can see cracks in the metal, that looks at the dog being walked innocently in the park and imagines it suddenly accelerating towards you, its jaws wide, foam frothing from its mouth. This is the bit of our brains that give horror its power. And it’s why I still read scary books, and why I write them. Because I love the thought of tapping into something primal, of experiencing something visceral.

Because being scared is good.

It’s one of the ways that you know you’re alive.

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Win Department 19: The Rising

Thanks to HarperCollins NZ I have 5 copies of Department 19: The Rising by Will Hill to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw for a copy is answer this question:  What is the name of the monster who is part of Department 19?  Enter your answer, your name and email address below to get in the draw.

This competition has now closed.  Thanks to those who entered.

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Department 19: The Rising by Will Hill

Will Hill’s Department 19 was one of my favourite books of 2011 so I’ve been eagerly awaiting the sequel.  Until Department 19 came along I’d been put off vampires because most of the vampire books around seemed to be about vampires that sparkled and spent their time scowling at girls or were stuck in a love triangle.  Department 19 blew me away because Will’s vampire were vicious and would do anything to get the blood they needed to survive.  Department 19: The Rising amps up the violence, the blood and guts, and the action.

91 DAYS TILL ZERO HOUR.

THAT’S 91 DAYS TO RUN.

91 DAYS TO HIDE.

OR 91 DAYS TO PRAY FOR DEPARTMENT 19 TO SAVE YOU…

After the terrifying attack on Lindisfarne at the end of the first book, Jamie, Larissa and Kate are recovering at Department 19 headquarters, waiting for news of Dracula’s stolen ashes.

They won’t be waiting for long.

Vampire forces are gathering. Old enemies are getting too close. And Dracula… is rising.

The 700 brilliant pages of Department 19: The Rising are dripping with blood and vampire guts.  The Rising is even better than the first book, as Will amps up the violence, blood and guts, and the action.  One of the reasons I loved Department 19 so  much was because of the history of the organisation and their fight with vampires and Will gives us more of this in The Rising.  At the end of the first book we were left wondering if Frankenstein survived and Will explains what happened to him and tells us about Frankenstein’s history, including his links with some horrendous vampires.  Sometimes when you’re reading a book you wish that you knew what happened to a character before you meet them, so that you know why they act the way they do, and I love that Will shows us these details.  The Rising could be half the length it is without this back-story but it’s this that makes the book so brilliant.

One thing I especially liked about The Rising is that Will shows us that not all vampires are evil.  Some vampires wish nothing more than to be human again and hide away from the world as much as they can.  They still need to feed so get animal blood from a butcher or find other ways that mean they don’t have to kill humans.  There are vampires of all ages, including fathers and daughters, and some of them just want to carry on living the way they did before they were turned.

The Rising is real boys book.  Department 19 is a secret government organisation that protects the world from the supernatural (especially vampires) and they’re equipped with some great weapons, including the T-Bone, a gun that fires a stake at vampires.  There’s more blood and guts in this book than what I’ve seen in any vampire movie.  Whenever a vampire is staked in the heart it explodes like a balloon leaving the Operators covered in blood and chunks of vampire.  Will has written some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever read, with blood squirting everywhere and they left me feeling quite queasy.

Anyone who loved Department 19 should get their hands on The Rising and you should shove the Department 19 books into the hands of any teenage boy you know.  They’re perfect for readers of Anthony Horowitz, Robert Muchamore and Darren Shan.

5 out of 5 stars

NB: I know some primary schools have the first book in their libraries but I wouldn’t suggest The Rising for your library unless you really know your readers can handle it.

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Will Hill introduces Department 19: The Rising

Department 19: The Rising is the sequel to Will Hill’s 2011 debut.  It’s one of my most anticipated April new releases and I can’t wait to get into it.  Will Hill’s Department 19 books are perfect books for boys, especially those who like Anthony Horowitz and Robert Muchamore.  There’s plenty of action, violence, blood and guts, and vicious (non-sparkling) blood-sucking vampires.

Will Hill will be joining me on the blog in April to tell us why he writes (and reads) scary stories, and I’ll have a chance to win the first two Department 19 books.

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My Most Anticipated April New Releases

Department 19: The Rising by Will Hill

After the terrifying attack on Lindisfarne at the end of the first book, Jamie, Larissa and Kate are recovering at Department 19 headquarters, waiting for news of Dracula’s stolen ashes.

They won’t be waiting for long.

Vampire forces are gathering. Old enemies are getting too close. And Dracula… is rising.

 

Fear by Michael Grant (Gone series, book #5)

It’s been one year since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

Despite the hunger and the lies, even despite the plague, the kids of Perdido Beach are determined to survive. Creeping into the tenuous new world they’ve built, though, is perhaps the worst incarnation yet of the enemy known as the Darkness: fear.

Within the FAYZ, life breaks down while the Darkness takes over, literally—turning the dome-world of the FAYZ entirely black. In darkness, the worst fears of all emerge, and the cruelest of intentions are carried out. But even in their darkest moments, the inhabitants of the FAYZ maintain a will to survive and a desire to take care of the others in their ravaged band that endures, no matter what the cost.

 

Revived by Cat Patrick

Daisy has died five times. She’s a test subject for a government super drug called Revive, which brings people back from the dead. Each time she is revived, Daisy has to move cities and change her identity to avoid suspicion. Daisy has always gotten a thrill out of cheating death, but her latest move has come with unexpected complications: a new best friend, and a very cute new crush. As Daisy’s attachment to her new home grows, she discovers secrets that could tear her world apart. And the more she learns, the more she feels like a lowly pawn in a sinister game.

Rainbow Orchid: Volume 3 by Garen Ewing

At the beginning of Volume Three, Julius and Lily are recovering from the electrifying end of Volume Two. What does the future hold for Evelyn Crow and her gang of desperate villains? Do Julius and Lily have the strength to prevent Urkaz Grope from enacting his evil plans? Don’t miss the stunning conclusion to the biggest adventure in comics!

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

Everyone said sending teenagers into space would be their opportunity of a lifetime… It’s been decades since anyone last set foot on the moon. But three ordinary teens are about to change that–and their lives–forever. Mia knows this will be her punk band’s ticket to fame and fortune. Midori believes it’s her way out of her restrictive lifestyle in Japan. And Antoine just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible. But little do they know that something sinister is waiting for them on the dark side of the moon.

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