Egmont 9+ Readers Blog Tour: Day One

I am delighted to be hosting day one of the Egmont 9+ readers blog tour.

About the books and what led each author to write their book

Sword egmont


JASON ROHAN author of The Sword of Kuromori


When I was in primary school, I was the kid who was always writing wacky stories about aliens landing in the playground and eating my classmates. In middle school, I moved on to write globe-spanning spy adventures. In high school, I discovered Marvel Comics and was a geek back when it wasn’t cool. This led me to write comics and I was lucky enough to work for Marvel Comics in New York where I wrote a Captain America script and assisted on the Spider-Man series.


Now, I’m a full-time communications engineer, father of five, football coach and author of The Sword of Kuromori. It’s a strange title, I agree, but the samurai sword and Japanese name will tell you that this is not your usual fantasy saga.


Between comics and engineering, I spent five amazing years in Japan, where I lived and worked as an English teacher. When I sat down to write this novel, I wanted to draw upon those experiences of being a stranger in a strange land, but also of having expectations thrust upon you. Yes, The Sword of Kuromori is an all-action adventure story with a shed load of weird monsters, but it’s also about growing up, making mistakes and – most importantly – learning from them.


If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to visit Japan, to live there and see how people behave, then this is the book for you. As well as cultural tips, you’ll learn some Japanese words, how to use chopsticks, how to behave when visiting a temple and, oh yes, what to do when a pack of headless teenage vampires comes to feast on your marrow!

egmont cover 

JANE HARDSTAFF author of The Executioner’s Daughter


The Executioner’s Daughter is a fantasy adventure set in Tudor London about a girl, Moss, whose father is the Tower of London’s Executioner. Moss has grown up a prisoner of the Tower, tainted by her Pa’s work, enthralled by the stories and legends of the murky River Thames. But when she stumbles upon a way out, she discovers that her father has been keeping a terrible secret. Years ago, he promised Moss to a Riverwitch. Should she believe him? Is the Riverwitch real or just a fireside tale? The Executioner’s Daughter is a story of a girl looking for answers in a harsh and unforgiving world – where legends come to life and tough choices must be made to survive.


The inspiration for the book was a random daydream walking by the river Thames, wondering about what it would have been like if your dad was the executioner at the Tower of London? But there’s also a whole fantasy element to the book which draws on my lifelong fascination with watery places – rivers, lakes and ponds – and the hidden things that lurk below the surface. Where you’re never quite sure what’s down there. And I wanted that to be the atmosphere for the book – that blurry place between what we know is real and what we know is not real, where the imagination goes berserk.


So I’ve mashed together fantasy, history and adventure and in some ways this was quite a hard story to write, but I loved writing it and what I loved most was getting inside the head of my character Moss. I discovered that although her life is quite different to the lives of children now, her thoughts and feelings are not so different to those of a 21st century 11 year old.

Temple Boys 

JAMIE BUXTON author of Temple Boys


So there I am, sitting in a café with my friend Leon, and he says: ‘When you get home you should read the bit in the Bible about the last three days of Jesus’ life.’


I’m surprised. Leon is not a believer, and neither am I for that matter, so I say: ‘Why?’


‘It feels like it makes sense because we’ve heard it so many times,’ he says. ‘But if you read it closely, it doesn’t all hang together.’


Well, this is said to be the biggest story ever told, so if there are gaps in the plot, we should be told, I think to myself. I pick up a Bible and start to read.


And then I see it: clear as day. A contradiction so big you could drive a camel train through. Jesus spent the last three days of his life doing his level best to get into trouble. If he wanted to be a martyr and if he wanted to die, how could he have been betrayed the way the bible says?


There was the start of the mystery and in my story, I have a hyper-active beggar boy ask this question, over and over again.  Why? Why? WHY?


It’s a good place to start!

mars evacuees 

SOPHIA MCDOUGALL author of Mars Evacuees


The basic idea of Mars Evacuees had been knocking around in my head since I was nine years old. I’d read Goodnight Mr Tom and Back Home, both by Michelle Magorian, both about WWII evacuees.  I also had a book about the planets at home and I knew Mars was the logical next step for human space exploration. So when I thought, “what if the whole planet wasn’t safe? What if you had to send children much further away?” the answer was obvious. I had a go at writing a very early version of Mars Evacuees then, (I don’t think it had a title) and again when I was 14. I can remember the title for the second version; it was going to be called Holly after the main character and it would have been extremely depressing. The heroine and her friends were going to end up probably the last humans alive and trapped in a space station with very little chance of survival. I never completed it, which is probably for the best.  But the idea of kids being sent to Mars because of a war stayed with me.

Seventeen years later, I’d written three long, serious books, and I wanted a change of pace; I wanted to write something shorter and funnier. But I still wanted a large canvas to work on and life-or-death stakes. And there was this idea about Mars I’d had in my back pocket all this time. And while I’d originally imagined a bleak story about evacuees escaping a war between humans, but now it seemed like a terrible waste not to bring in both aliens and jokes. So I tried to imagine the aliens and the scariest thing I could imagine was that they were invisible. And that made me think they were a bit like ghosts, which led to the idea that perhaps they were also very cold, and that led me to the idea the Earth was freezing, and to the first line: “When the polar ice advanced as far as Nottingham, my school was closed and I was evacuated to Mars.”


 You can follow the blog tour tomorrow at It Was lovely Reading You: