Tag Archives: monsters

Interview with Darkmouth author Shane Hegarty

Shane Hegarty is the author of the awesome Darkmouth series.  It’s full of legendary creatures of all kinds and there are plenty of laughs.  You may have been one of the lucky people who got to hear Shane talk about his books when he visited the top half of the country last month (I’m very jealous!).  The third book in the series, Chaos Rising, is soon to be released here in NZ and I got the chance to interview Shane about the series.

  • What inspired you to write the Darkmouth series?

I ran out of excuses not to do it! From a very young age I’d wanted to write a story of fantasy and adventure, with scary bits, jokes, an ordinary hero in extraordinary circumstances. In the end, I wanted to write a story for my own kids that gave me the focus to make the relationships the heart of it even as their town is under attack.

  • What 3 words would you use to describe the series?

Fun. Fantastic. Freaky.

  • What would your Legend Hunter name be?

Shane the Easily Spooked.

  • Which of your characters do you most relate to?

I relate to a few in different ways. Finn has to become a Legend Hunter even though he doesn’t feel strong enough, and I recognize his fear. His friend Emmie is fearless, and she’s the flip side of things – how I would actually like to be. Finally, Finn’s dad Hugo is a but pushy to his son, and I guess I recognise that even if I don’t want to be a pushy dad!

  • Which Legend would you least want to encounter?

There’s a Hydra in Darkmouth 3: Chaos Descends, and I really wouldn’t like to meet any of its heads on a dark night. Or a bright day. Or at any time.

  • The series is being adapted in to an animated movie.  Will you have any part in the creation of the movie?

I’ve seen some of the early drawings and story ideas they’re working on in Hollywood, and it looks amazing. There are brilliant directors involved – Dave Pimentel (Moana) and Doug Sweetland (Storks) – so I know they’ll do a great job. I’m having fun watching it being put together.

  • What books do you recommend for readers who love your series?

If you haven’t read Derek Landy’s amazing Skulduggery Pleasant, they’re so good. I always tell readers of my own favourite book, Douglas Adams’s the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I’m always delighted when a reader is inspired to pick that up because they always love it.

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Filed under books, humourous, mythology, spooky

Fire in the Sea by Myke Bartlett

The wonderful people at Text Publishing (based in Melbourne) launched a fantastic new award for authors across Australia and New Zealand a few years ago, called The Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing.  This prize has introduced me to some of my favourite authors, including Richard Newsome and Leanne Hall.  Last year they chose another very deserving winner of the prize, Myke Bartlett with his book Fire in the Sea, which has just been released.

Sadie is sixteen and bored with life in Perth. It’s summer, and lazing on the beach in the stifling heat with her cousins and Tom is a drag. Then something comes out of the sea.

Dark menacing forms attack an old man, leaving him for dead and Sadie wracking her brains to understand what she saw. Then there’s a mysterious inheritance, a strange young man called Jake and a horned beast trampling the back yard.

Sadie finds herself caught in the middle of an ancient conflict that is nearing its final battle, a showdown that threatens to engulf Perth and all those she loves in a furious tsunami.

Fire in the Sea is a story of gods, monsters, curses, immortality, war and the normal teenagers who get caught in the middle.  Myke Bartlett grabs you within the first few pages and you get swept away in the story, not wanting to surface until you get to the very end.  It’s one of those stories you want to devour all in one go because the writing is just so good and the action never lets up.  There’s something for everyone in the story, from mythical creatures and body-swapping gods, to a genie-like demon who grants wishes and a lost civilization.  There is plenty of violence and blood and guts to keep the guys interested, especially when the Minotaur is involved.

I love how Myke has weaved mythology into the story.  I can see Fire in the Sea appealing those teens that have enjoyed the Percy Jackson series because of the way that Myke brings gods and monsters into the present day.  Even though you don’t see the gods, you get the impression that they’re watching everything happen and will intervene if or when the time comes.  The feel of the story also reminded me a little of Maurice Gee’s Under the Mountain.

Sadie is a strong, feisty heroine.  She doesn’t seem to care what other people think of her and is prepared to do what she thinks is right to save the people she loves.  She get caught in the middle of a war that they didn’t want to be involved in, but she handles the situation incredibly well.

The ending of Fire in the Sky left me wanting to read more about Sadie, Jake and the ancient ones, so here’s hoping Myke continues their story.  If you’re looking for a fast-paced story, filled with action, adventure, fantasy and mythology, Fire in the Sky is the perfect book.

4 out of 5 stars

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Filed under adventure, authors, books, fantasy, mystery, young adult, young adult fiction

Picture Book Nook: Phoebe and the Night Creatures by Jenny Hessell and Donovan Bixley

Phoebe’s in bed but needs to go to the toilet.  There’s only one problem – there’s a wolf under her bed.  Her mum tells her to take the wolf with her and off they go to the toilet.  Along the way she meets a cast of interesting characters, including a stinky troll, a scary shark, and a giant,  who all follow her to the bathroom.  Are all these monsters following her or is it just her imagination?

Phoebe and the Night Creatures is one of those picture books where the words and the pictures are a perfect match.  Jenny Hessell’s story is full of the monsters that children create in their imagination and they are brought to life with Donovan Bixley’s stunning illustrations.  Jenny has created Phoebe, a girl who isn’t afraid of trolls or ghosts and Donovan has portrayed this courage in his illustrations, particularly on the cover of the book.  Donovan Bixley is my favourite New Zealand illustrator, because of the way he uses light and colour, making his illustrations glow on the page.  This book has really allowed him to have some fun and use his imagination to create these night creatures.  Another aspect of the book I really enjoyed was the design, which is also done by Donovan.  The layout of the words adds extra enjoyment to the story, with some words looking spooky or stinky.  Phoebe and the Night Creatures is probably not a book to read before bed, but one to share with those children who aren’t scared easily and are fascinated with monsters.

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Filed under books, children, New Zealand, Picture Book Nook, picture books