Shaun Hume reached out to me a few weeks ago regarding a possible review for his book (he complimented me on my book covers, which is the fastest way to this author’s heart) (other than salty black licorice). Unfortunately, I was unable to fit him into my schedule, but I was still intrigued enough that I had to know more!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Ewan Pendle was weird. Really weird. At least, that’s what everyone told him. Then again, being able to see monsters that no one else could wasn’t exactly normal.
Thinking he has been moved off to live with his eleventh foster family, Ewan is instead told he is a Lenitnes, one of an ancient race of peoples who can alone see the real Creatures that inhabit the earth. He is taken in by Enola, the mysterious sword carrying Grand Master of Firedrake Lyceum, a labyrinth of halls and rooms in the middle of London where other children, just like him, go to learn the ways of the Creatures.
Since your reviewers bring up the Harry Potter connection, I think the most important thing potential readers might want to know is how are your books different from the Harry Potter universe?
Maybe the most important world difference between Ewan Pendle and Harry Potter is the lack of magic. Magic does exist in the world of Creatures and Lenitnes, but it’s a relatively new discovery. While it certainly is an emerging aspect (hence the rather newly formed Witch Clique), few people understand it, and even fewer can perform any magic at all.
The other main difference would be the number of strong and unique female characters. I’m a massive HP fan, and love it dearly, but there really aren’t many girls within the story who take on much of a narratively propelling role. In my story it was a conscious choice to create more female characters, purely because I find them more interesting to write. This, I think, gives much more scope to the story and its characters.
But another important question is what makes your books similar to the Harry Potter universe in a way that will appeal to potential readers?
I think Ewan Pendle has all the things about Harry Potter which I like. The importance of friendship and how that is developed, the community and “home” atmosphere of the Lyceum, a school where kids go to learn about their world and to hone their skills, mystery, adventure, a protagonist struggling to understand and find his place in a world totally new and unknown to him, detail of subject and characters… These are a few that come to mind immediately.
Final Harry Potter question, I promise! What Hogwarts House would you be sorted into, and why?
Gryffindor. It always has to be Gryffindor. But that’s if I could pick… At the end of the day it’s up to the hat, not me.
What is your favorite part of writing in the fantasy genre?
Writing a fantasy story is like making a movie with an unlimited budget. You can create absolutely anything you want, and make those creations the reality of that world. It’s the pinnacle of creativity for me. As long as you can make it believable, anything goes, and that’s the most unrestrictive kind of writing I can think of. For me there is no greater pleasure than to get lost and explore the worlds of one’s own creation.
Can you give away any hints regarding Ewan Pendle’s next adventures?
I can tell you that in the next book of the series, Ewan must leave London and Firedrake in order to pursue a mystery which has been haunting his dreams ever since his first days at the Lyceum. That’s about all I’m willing to reveal — for now…
And finally, leave us with a short excerpt from Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith that shows us why we should check out this novel!
This is a short excerpt from about the middle of the book. To my mind it encapsulates one of the main themes of the story — friendship, and the importance of it…
Sleep was a restless affair for Ewan. The thought that he had to get up extra early and, therefore, had to fall asleep as quickly as possible in order to get a decent amount of shuteye, only kept him awake for longer. When Max’s snoring started, he didn’t think he would get any rest at all.
In the early hours of the morning, when sleep finally did come, it was anything but peaceful. Ewan was visited by dreams of wide open green fields with a singular white blurry figure set on the pristine horizon. Every time Ewan tried to get closer to the figure and see who, or indeed what, it was, it would only get blurrier until it finally disappeared altogether and turned into a wisp of smoke that then became a massive and monstrous pale cloud, dominating the sky above him.
‘Ewan … Ewan.’ Blown over by a mighty gust of wind, Ewan tumbled to the ground. A voice was demanding he get up and follow the cloud as it shot across the sky like a floating city.
‘Ewan – Pendle!’ Ewan woke suddenly to see a wide and shimmering head glaring down at him through the darkness. It was Moham. ‘On your feet,’ he said in the quietest voice Ewan had ever heard him utter. Although his voice was dim, it carried with it no less foreboding of what the result would be if its request was not immediately carried out.
‘Pain Yard – five minutes,’ said Moham, then turning and walking away.
Ewan dressed as quickly as he could and then tiptoed past all of the other snoozing cadets and out of the dormitory. A few smouldering embers in the gigantic fireplace puffed sympathetically as he crossed the darkened common room. The empty corridors of Firedrake were still asleep too, and Ewan did his best not to wake them as he tried to achieve a balance between speed and silence. He thought with a little shudder that right now Betony could have probably sneaked up on him and snapped his neck before he had even known that he was no longer alone.
As he stepped outside a few minutes later, the chill early morning air bit at Ewan’s face and neck like a million tiny flies, all of them trying to take the largest chunk or leave the most painful mark as they nibbled at his skin. Moham was standing in the centre of Pain Yard, curiously staring up at the peach coloured sky. Ewan approached him slowly, but the tall Master did not unclench the grip his singular visible dark eye had on the brightening sky until Ewan was close enough to touch him.
‘Laps,’ said Moham in a low voice. Ewan complied immediately.
As Ewan set out on his first lap of the long and wide rectangular Pain Yard, he bent his eyes towards the high walls of the Lyceum, there being nothing else but sand and Moham in the Yard itself to look at. For the first half a dozen floors or so, all four walls that frowned down onto the Yard were the same height. But after this the roofs were mismatched and the tiles and gutters chased each other up and down and in all directions.
Firedrake Lyceum was slowly waking, the tips of its highest flat glass eyes blinking and glinting in the sun.
Ewan knew that the widows in the boy’s Grade One dormitory looked down onto the Yard, but he had no idea that the girl’s did too. Casting a wistful look up in the direction of his bed and the beds of the other sleeping Grade One cadets, Ewan spotted someone waving to him from a long and thin window set into the honey coloured stone of the Lyceum, like a shiny welt on rough skin.
Ewan focused his sharp hazel eyes.
Mathilde was sitting on what must have been the wide inside sill of one of the windows of the girl’s dormitory. Still in her pyjamas and cross legged, she offered a vehement wave and a wide smile that Ewan couldn’t quite make out but was still sure was there. Suddenly the wind didn’t seem so fierce, the barked instructions from Moham for him to lift his knees didn’t thump against his eardrums so thickly, and Ewan picked up his pace.
For a whole hour Moham made Ewan run, and for that whole hour Mathilde sat and watched, offering another short wave every time he looked up. It was strange that the thought which came to Ewan so clearly now had only just arrived, because he had been through a lot already with Mathilde and Enid. But as he lifted his head back up for his regular once-every-five-minute look towards the high windows of the dormitories, something warm trickled down Ewan’s throat, settling itself in his stomach and welling up like a bowl being slowly filled with warm soup.
This, Ewan thought, must be what it feels like to have friends.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shaun is an Australian born author of three novels. He wrote his first story, entitled “The Stagecoach Robbery”, at the age of six, and has been making stories ever since. After working in education with children of all ages for many years, Shaun turned his passion into his profession, and is now a freelance writer and photographer.