Saturday, 15 February 2014

Author Interview || Joseph Delaney

About this author
Joseph Delaney is a full time writer living in Lancashire, in the heart of Boggart territory. He first got the idea for the Wardstone Chronicles series when he moved to the village where he lives now and discovered there was a local boggart - ‘a man like me needs boggarts around’. He made a note in his notebook ‘a story about a man who hunts boggarts’ and years later when he had to come up with an idea at short notice developed this into ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’, the first book in the series. The Spook's Apprentice, The Spook's Curse and The Spook's Secret have all been shortlisted for the Lancashire children's Book for the Year Award. The Spook's Apprentice is the winner of both the Sefton Book Award and the Hampshire Book Award.

The Speculative Daily: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and your books?

Joseph Delaney: The ‘Wardstone Chronicles ’is the story of an apprentice, Tom Ward, being trained by a spook to fight the dark. They deal with ghosts, ghasts, boggarts and lots of witches who drink blood and crunch bones.

I was a teacher of film and media studies before becoming a full-time writer. But I began my working life as an apprentice in a factory. I carried a tool bag for an older engineer but we didn’t fight the dark. We just repaired machinery.

TSD: Which books inspired you to start writing?

Joseph: Every time I read a great book I think ‘I wish I’d written that’. There were so many – far too many to list. But I enjoyed ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Dune’ both of which probably influenced my writing. They certainly inspired me!

TSD: Nowadays, YA is a very popular genre. Did you grow up reading YA? What are your opinions about the conditions of the genre at present?
Joseph: When I was growing up there was no such category as ‘YA’. I got my books from the local library which had a children’s section although I really wanted to borrow from the adult library! I used to read two books a week from about the age of six. The ‘YA’ genre is thriving and some of its books can be read by much older people. Recently when I signed a book for a teenager she said: “It’s not for me. It’s for my mum!”

TSD: The movie for ‘Spook’s Apprentice’ is scheduled for release early next year. How involved are you in the filming process? Is it going to stay true to the book and what are your expectations?

Joseph: I have not been involved in the filming process that much. They asked me a few questions and I visited the set in Vancouver and watched Jeff Bridges in action. It has gone through a process of three directors and even more screen writers. It took eight years from my signing of the contract to the post production of the film. It is different from the ‘Spook’s Apprentice’ but it will be a good action film and Jeff Bridges will be a good convincing Spook.

TSD: With a book a year, you must have a very busy writing schedule. Do you still find time to read? Which books have you recently enjoyed?

Joseph: My schedule is busy but I still read a lot from a range of genres. Recently I have read:

The Wool Trilogy Hugh Howie

The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers

Success Martin Amis

The Green Man Kingsley Amis

Goldfinger Ian Fleming

Butcher’s Crossing John Williams

The Luck Uglies Paul Durham

(This last one was a proof copy. It is published in July 2014)

TSD:  In the “Curse of the Bane” the body of the Quisitor who burns ‘witches’ floats showing that he is the evil one. As a former educator, do you leave subtle lessons in your books for the benefit of young readers? If so, how do you manage to balance the part meant for pure entertainment and the one which is meant to teach your readers something?

Joseph: I don’t deliberately leave any lessons at all in my books but they probably do reflect the way I think. I am just trying to tell an interesting story and scare my readers.

TSD:  You completed an apprenticeship just like your protagonist Tom Ward. Do you see other similarities between him and you?

Joseph: There are a few. For example my mother believed in duty. I hated being an apprentice but she made me go to work on cold rainy mornings. That’s what Tom’s mam does too. He has to work with the Spook and fight the dark whether he wants to or not!

You can buy Joseph Delaney's book "The Revenge of the Witch (also published as The Spook's Apprentice)" from
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