Here's a short article of mine, which appeared as a 'guest blog' at Booktopia.com shortly after The Frankenstein Inheritance was published.
Using the themes in Frankenstein
The Frankenstein Inheritance has taken me seven years to write. Not seven continuous years, I hasten to add, but it’s a project that’s been marinating both in my head and on my laptop for a long time. Why? It’s utterly different to my previous books, for a start. They’ve all been knockabout contemporary comedies. This is a Victorian gothic horror story.
The plot involves two children, who appear to be about twelve years old or so, whose arrival in London in 1879 sparks a series of macabre events. Hot on their trail is a character who is horrible in every possible way (and who was great fun to write), a descendant of the Victor Frankenstein we met in Mary Shelley’s original. The smoky factories of the city are the backdrop to their cat-and-mouse hunt for each other, in which the children fight to clear their names of murder, and Frankenstein hatches a scheme to turn Victorian industrial might to his own evil advantage.
Although it’s full of action and adventure, it also – I hope – raises some philosophical questions. What defines a human being? How far away from the physical human form can you get, and still be a runner in the human race? Is humanity to do with what we look like? Or how we think? Or how we behave?
Another theme running through it is the relationship between children and parents. It’s about a child’s need to grow up and be independent, and how independence can come at a cost. It’s also about how parents can over-protect children for the best of reasons, and how sometimes a parent’s deepest wish is to ‘create’ a child who’ll never become ill, or die, or grow old. This is a book I couldn’t have written without being a dad.
I hope it’s a book that will appeal to readers who’ve enjoyed the recent vampire boom, although I should point out that nobody falls in love in this one. My books are often cited as being good reads for boys and this is no exception, but it does include a strong female heroine I hope all readers will like. The Frankenstein Inheritance is done in what I hope is an authentically Victorian style, with lots of short chapters and everything presented as a dossier of letters, memoirs and newspaper clippings.
One thing I actually didn’t spot at all when I was writing the book, until it was pointed out to me, is the way it has a dig at capitalism and social injustice. It looks like the banking crisis is even having an effect on gothic Victorian steampunk action adventure children’s horror fiction!
This book can also be read on your phone, iPod, tablet or ereader
Below is a downloadable PDF file containing the first chapters...