I would like to introduce you all to Daniel Ingram-Brown. Daniel has a new book coming out soon and was interested in being interviewed.
Firstly, you mentioned that you have a new book coming out in May. Can you tell me a little bit about it please?
Yes, it’s called The Nemesis Charm. It’s the second book in The Firebird Chronicles series. The first book, Rise of the Shadow Stealers, came out in 2013. The Nemesis Charm continues the story of Apprentice Adventurers, Fletcher and Scoop. They train at a school called Blotting’s Academy, where all Story Characters go to be trained. The departments at Blotting’s Academy orbit around different types of story – so, for example, Apprentice Heroes train in the Department for Overcoming Monsters and Apprentice Spell-Shakers in the Department of Seasons. Fletcher and Scoop are part of the Department of Quests.
When the story starts, the two Apprentices are enjoying life. They’ve been at the Academy for a year – their Beginning year – and are just about to move into their Middle year. They’re well known and well liked at the Academy, almost having celebrity status because of their exploits in the first book. But all that is about to change. The Storyteller (the mysterious king of the island where Blotting’s Academy is based) has become aware of a sickness that is threatening Fletcher and Scoop’s world. It’s been slowly seeping through the sea, causing many in the surrounding islands to fall into a deep sleep, from which they cannot be woken.
The Storyteller has discovered that the sickness is spilling from a doorway that has opened up in the sea, a Threshold between worlds. He knows that if he is to save his own world, he must find somebody to cross that doorway, to reach the source of the sickness and bring it to an end. He knows that to send somebody on such a quest is tantamount to sending them into the mouth of death itself, but it has to be done. And the Storyteller has two people in mind for the task – two children. I’m sure you can guess who they are!
As you might have picked up, The Nemesis Charm (and the whole of The Firebird Chronicles series) is about stories. Stories are the magic in Fletcher and Scoop’s world. This second book in the series is about the battle to control the doorway through which the sickness is spilling. Whoever controls that doorway will control the story itself and will hold the destiny of that world in their hands.
How long did it take you to write?
It took me about three years – not working on it constantly (I’ve had lots of other projects on in that time too), but it was about a three year process in all.
How many more books in the series are there to come?
There’s one more book in this series – Fletcher and Scoop’s Ending year.
Can you relate to any of your characters at all?
I think I relate to a lot of them. In many ways, all the characters in a book rise from the author’s subconscious, so they all express a part of me. If I had to pick one though, I’d probably pick Fletcher. He doubts his core identity. He struggles to accept that at heart, he’s a redemptive figure. That’s probably a struggle I have too, perhaps we all do. It’s the struggle to see the good in ourselves, as well as have an awareness of our faults and failings. Fletcher’s also moody and lacks social skills – I think I was like that when I was a teenager! He’s sharp, though. He sees things for what they are, he’s just not always good at dealing with that sensitively. These days, I think I’m a little more like Scoop – friendlier and more rounded! I hope so. Perhaps it’s good to have a mix of both of them!
In terms of who I’d like to be (I realise you didn’t ask that, but your question got me thinking…) I’d like to be like the Yarnbard or the Storyteller – those wise older characters who handle the seriousness of life lightly and in a playful way, who carry paradoxes in themselves and so are able to hold the world together. But I also know that there’s a side of me like Grizelda too – the manipulator, lurking in the shadows. She’s a side I’m trying to shed, although she is great fun to write!
Will you be having a book launch?
I will! It’s on 27th May at Waterstones in Leeds, as part of the Leeds Big Bookend Festival. There’s going to be live music and free drinks. I’ll be reading from the book, being interviewed, and there’ll be a Q&A. I can’t wait! (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/book-launch-for-the-nemesis-charm-by-daniel-ingram-brown-tickets-23707953126)
Who designs your book covers?
A designer employed by my publisher, Our Street Books (an imprint of John Hunt Publishing). I’m lucky enough to have quite a lot of input in the cover, though. The ship image and the dark colours were something I had in mind right from the start. I think having an image in mind helps me to find a direction and feel for the book. I know what the image for the third book will be already…
I see that you are also a playwright. What sort of projects do you get involved in?
I’ve mainly been involved in small-scale touring; big community productions, or journey based performance. In fact, journeys as a motif is probably the thing that ties all my work together. At the moment, I’m Artistic Director for Suitcase and Spectacles Children’s Theatre. We have a one woman show that tours to schools – it’s a classroom show. Everything comes out of an old suitcase (including a ladder – I like the shows to feel magical). At the end of the performance, the classroom is transformed, with a sort of tree having emerged from the suitcase. It’s great fun. Our next show is going to be a stage adaptation of Rise of the Shadow Stealers! The other production I’m working on at the moment is a journey based performance of Wind in the Willows – the audience walk from a castle, down along a river to a stately home, and along the way meet Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger. I wrote the adaptation and am directing the show. It’s on in August. Hopefully it’ll be sunny!!
How long have you been a playwright for?
I started writing plays after university, when I set up my first company – that was about nineteen years ago now.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere – walking, films, people, books, philosophy, dreams. That’s the great thing about ideas, they’re always leaping out at you!
Describe a day in your life?
My days are always different. I find myself leading workshops, designing books or fliers, organising events, chairing meetings, directing actors, applying for funding (boring), writing in cafés or in my little office at home, meeting people.
On a good day, I get to the gym and spend some time in silence. Everything else is up for grabs!
Who are your favourite authors?
Philip Pullman, C.S. Lewis, Umberto Eco, Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman – those authors that ask big questions about life, but deal with them in playful ways.
About Daniel Ingram-Brown
Born in East London, Daniel now live in Knaresborough, in a house built from the stones of the town’s ruined castle.
As well as being an author and chair of the Leeds Big Bookend Festival, he works in the field of performance and is currently Artistic Director of Suitcase and Spectacles Children’s Theatre.
Daniel enjoys leading workshops and giving author talks in schools, and has led numerous community theatre projects that explore how stories shape us and what mark they leave on the places we live.
Daniel is interested in exploring philosophical and spiritual questions in fun and engaging ways that inspire children and adults to think and to wonder.
Author’s Website – www.firebirdchronicles.com
Facebook Page – www.facebook.com/danielingrambrown
Twitter – www.twitter.com/daningrambrown