With the obligatory first post out of the way, I thought that I’d talk about the themes of my debut novel, Monkey Arkwright.
First and foremost, I wanted to write a story that would entertain people. But perhaps just as importantly, I wanted to create a set of characters that people would care about. I’ll cover the inspiration for the main characters in later posts, but I’ll tell you now, I’m really proud of my two main protagonists, Lorna and Monkey. Both are teenagers, and I’d categorise my book as a Young Adult Mystery. Like many stories in this genre, I’d like to think that Monkey Arkwright can be enjoyed by those who are young at heart, whatever their age.
Big deal, you might say. Every author has to create a decent plot with characters that their readers can empathise with. Just tell us about your book’s theme! Well, what I was thinking about was those films that I enjoyed growing up. Films where a bunch of kids stumble across something in the woods, or some secret in their home town. The Goonies and Stand By Me were major inspirations. (By the way, in case you didn’t know, Stand By Me is based on a wonderful novella by Stephen King. It’s featured in his book Different Seasons; if you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so, but please finishing reading this post first!). The thing that struck me about the narratives in these films is that whilst the kids had some help from the adults, it was the kids who were the ones driving the plot; uncovering the secrets and spotting things that their elders had missed.
It’s interesting that the same theme has resurfaced in the last year, with the success of Netflix’s Stranger Things. I started writing Monkey Arkwright in earnest at the start of 2016, and finished the first draft well before the premiere of Stranger Things, but can you imagine the growing panic as I watched that wonderful series unfold, worried that it was heading in the same direction as my plot! Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Another recent series that I admire is Wayward Pines, based on Blake Crouch’s books. I just love the idea that there’s something out there in the woods; something that isn’t right.
There are further themes and subplots that are best covered when I talk about the inspiration for my characters. But for now, if any of the films, books and TV series referenced above float your boat, then you might just enjoy Monkey Arkwright. Of course, the quality of the works that I’ve mentioned sets a very high bar indeed; one that I could only dream of approaching. So, remember: I mention these works merely as a thematic touchstone. Now, if only I could be as successful as my inspirations and get some equally good reviews…