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Guest Author - David Whitley

Your books deal with issues such as corruption, greed, freedom and morality, as well as the way society works. Although the book is set in a fantasy other world, do you think it relates to the way our society is today?

Absolutely – I think that all fantasy reflects aspects of the real world. Sometimes, fantasy can explore a thought in the way that no other form can, because it can strip away all the conventional elements of the real world and allow the story to reflect the heart of an idea. But then again, almost all fiction is fantasy – it’s just a question of degree!

Is it difficult to write a trilogy? Are you in effect, writing 3 novels at once, or do you treat them as individual books?

As I was coming up with the story that became the Agora trilogy, it naturally seemed to fall into three sections. I realised then that I would either have to crush all of my ideas into one long book, or spread it over a trilogy. So it’s been brilliant to write all three novels, and allow all the characters their chance to bring the story to its proper conclusion!

Your characters have brilliant names – do you start writing with a name in mind, or does the name develop as the character does?

Thank you! The name always comes after I’ve created the character – I want to find something that will be appropriate to their personality, and their role in the story. Having said that, I try not to make it too obvious. If my readers enjoy working out the thinking behind the names, that’s great, but it’s not necessary. For example, one of my main characters, Mark, is a boy who thrives in the mercantile world of Agora, becoming a successful businessman – and of course, a “mark” is a unit of currency, like the old German Deutschmark.

If you had an emotion to sell to Miss Devine, what would it be and why?

I think if there were any emotion I would willingly sell, it would be Envy. There’s something so belittling about it – reducing all of our hopes and dreams to wanting to be better than that person, whatever the cost. Mind you, I think it would tax even Miss Devine’s skill to be able to sell that on to a willing buyer ...

Who is your favourite character from your books and why? 

It’s a difficult decision, because I’m fond of them all for different reasons. I’d say that my favourite to write is Snutworth, because he has such a careful, distinct manner of speaking that is so much fun to create. But as people, I think my favourite is Doctor Theophilus. There is something very inspiring about his story – a good man who has suffered much, and nearly given up, but who finds new purpose in the actions and ideals of his friends. I try to live up to him.

Are there any plans to make your trilogy into films?

Not at the moment, but I would love to see my books filmed – I’d be fascinated to see how they would adapt them, who they would cast, and how my visions would translate to the big screen.

When can fans expect the final installment ‘The Canticle of Whispers’ of the trilogy?

Providing everything goes as planned, The Canticle of Whispers will be out in August 2011.

You have already won prizes and been shortlisted for awards for your work. What else would you like to achieve in your literary career?

I’d just love to be one of those writers that people remember – that they can look back on fondly and introduce to friends and children. It’s quite a dream, but I’m willing to give it a go!

You’re a classically trained bass-baritone as well as a successful writer, which do you prefer and why?

I don’t think that they’re too far apart. Writing has a music all of its own, with cadences, and sudden crescendos, shocks, and beautiful lyrical passages. Singing is my hobby and writing is my job, but both are hugely enjoyable. And maybe, in a parallel universe, it’s the other way round!

Do you have any advice for our budding young writers?

Read! Write! 

In my opinion, the best way to get a feel for writing is to read, and to read as widely as you can. It doesn’t all have to be “good books”, variety is the best plan – if not one author is dominating your thoughts, then it’ll be much easier to find your own style.

And then write. Write anything that takes your fancy, keep trying and crafting, until you get it exactly how you want it. Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re having a good time, your readers will as well!

Who is your literary idol?

Just one? Come on ... I’ve loved almost every book I’ve ever read – from my first ever book (Ladybird’s 1a Play with Us) to my most recent (Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell). In fact, the thing I most love about the literary world is that variety, that there are thousands of voices, so many of them wonderful, clamouring for our attention.

As a life-long book lover, what is your favourite book ever and why?

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. Don’t be fooled by the sentimental-sounding title, this is a powerful social satire mixed with extraordinary dark psychology and a host of brilliant characters. If I ever manage to write anything half so vivid, I’ll be overjoyed.

Finally, can you sum up ‘The Children of the Lost’ in 3 words?

Beware your dreams.

Book Review

The Children of the Lost by David Whitley
Published by Puffin
Published on 5th August 2010
RRP £7.99
ISBN 978-0141330129 

The Children of the Lost is the second compelling instalment in David Whitley’s high-concept fantasy series. Set in imagined lands, controlled by all-powerful ideals, David Whitley’s accomplished novel explores the fascinating utopian-dystopian complex within the worlds of Agora and Giseth.

Mark and Lily have been banished from Agora, the ancient city-state where everything is for sale - memories, emotions - even children.

Lost and alone they discover Giseth, a seemingly perfect land where everyone is equal, possessions are unknown, and Lily believes they will find the secret of their entwined destiny.

But paradise comes at a price. Why are their new friends so scared? What hides deep in the forest? And who is the mysterious woman who appears in their dreams, urging them to find the Children of the Lost?

Recommended for readers 11+