About The Master’s Book:
Sean moves to Brussels to a house that is a crime scene...
In 1482 Mary, the last Duchess of Burgundy, lies on her deathbed in a castle in Flanders. She is only 25. In her final moments she makes a wish that, 500 years later, will threaten the lives of a boy and a girl living in Brussels. The Master’s Book is the story of Sean, an Irish teenager, just arrived in Brussels to a house that is also a crime scene. Together with Stephanie, his classmate, he finds an illuminated manuscript, only for it to be stolen almost at once.
Where did this manuscript come from? Who was it originally made for? Is there a connection with the beautiful tomb Sean has seen in Bruges? Above all, why does someone want this book so badly that they are prepared to kill for it?
Part thriller and part paper-chase, this book is aimed at boys and girls of twelve and over.
Interview With the Author
-What inspired you to write this book?
I had had two previous attempts at writing fantasy middle grade books. For the sake of doing something different, I wanted to draw on the three years I spent in Brussels, which were among the happiest in my life. My children were at the age when they were able to soak up all the new experiences and I wanted to recapture that feeling. Also, even in the capital of EU bureaucracy, history is never far away and there is a strong sense of the past. When I read the story of the Masterof Mary of Burgundy, and how he created these beautiful manuscripts for the last Duchess of Burgundy, that seemed to be a good anchor for a mystery story.
-Are your characters based on real people?
Some of the minor characters are, including the cranky neighbour, but the major characters, and especially the children, are my own creations
-Why did you choose to write YA/MG?
Going back to the first question, the time when my own children were at MG/YA reading age (and they were both advanced readers) corresponded with the time in Brussels and was a very happy time. I used to read aloud to my children, right into their teens, and that time we shared was very precious. So when I came to write I was drawn back to that readership.
-When did you decide to become an author?
I wrote a bit in my teens and entertained thoughts of being a writer back then. I was finally motivated to start writing again on my return from Brussels, when I was looking for an outlet. I had just read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and that was the spark that lit the fuse.
-What are the best and worst parts about being an author?
The best bits are when the writing is going well and you get carried along on the wave of imagination. Your characters and setting come to life and that's exciting. Then getting positive feedback from readers is always great.
One of the worst things is simply trying to find the time. It's also frustrating when it doesn't go well. I hate proofreading and editing. And it can be deflating when you get negative feedback, although it is important.
-What are the top five books on your booket list?
I have so many "favourite" books and I've written about some of them elsewhere. But here are a few that I will mention now:
Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials. This is fantasy with a difference, with one of the most loveable main characters in all literature.
J.G.Ballard: Empire of the Sun. Forget the Spielberg movie; I mean it's okay but it's not a patch on the book, Ballard's semi-autobiographical novel of life in a Japanese internment camp during WWII.
J.G.Farrell: The Siege of Krishnapur. Not a YA book but definitely accessible to YA readers, this Booker Prize-winning novel set in the Indian mutiny is both gripping and extremely funny.
Gerald Durrell: My Family and Other Animals. Durrell's account of his boyhood in Corfu, the animals he saw and collected, and his eccentric family, makes everyone laugh.
Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go. Again accessible to YA readers, this vision of dystopia is beautifully written and very moving.
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