What must have set the whole thing off was when, as a child, I came face to face with great paintings in the National Gallery in London. In particular the Flemish renaissance pictures were so finely painted and lifelike that it was easy to believe that I could step inside them and experience the worlds depicted by the artists. That experience eventually led me to study art, become an artist and, more recently, to write the Mirrorscape books.
How may books can we expect in this series?
I have written three books in this series so far. The first, Mirrorscape, tells the story of how Melkin Womper comes to the city of Vlam as an apprentice to the great master Ambrosius Blenk. Later, he discovers the secret of how to enter the world depicted in his master’s paintings – the Mirrorscape, a world full of wonders and terrors. He finds that the Mirrorscape is another universe created by many great artists before his master and he can travel from one painting to another.
Back in Vlam, the Fifth Mystery, the rich and all-powerful guild that governs the sense of sight, is trying to quell a rebellion stirred up by escaped prisoners from the Mystery’s pigment mines on the island of Kig. They are known as the Rainbow Rebels on account of their skin stained bright colours by their toil in the mines. When the Fifth Mystery kidnaps Ambrosius Blenk Mel, together with his friends Ludo and Wren, must ally themselves to the rebels and brave the dangers of the Mirrorscape to rescue him. Along the way they meet a walking, talking house, a many-faced butler and a couple of angels who enjoy nothing more than a spot of devilry.
In the following books, Mirrorstorm and Mirrorshade, Mel, Ludo and Wren become even more entangled in the strange world of the Mirrorscape where they meet wonderful new friends and make deadly new enemies.
If readers enjoy the first three Mirrorscape books there could be more in the future.
What’s the hardest part about writing your books?
Being a visual artist I have mental images in the most precise detail of everything in the Seven Kingdoms and the Mirrorscape. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of conveying these worlds in words rather than pictures is that I constantly have to pare down my descriptions to be able to fit within the confines of a book. I am always striving to express my vision while driving the story onwards.
Which author(s) have influenced your writing?
There are many writers that I admire and I dream of being able to write as well as Philip Pullman or Robert Louis Stevenson. Perhaps the writer that I admire most is Mervyn Peake. He was a superb artist who went on to write the Gormenghast trilogy (Titus Groan, Gormenghast, Titus Alone), one of the greatest works of fantasy literature ever.
But it is also artists that have inspired me. The character of Mel’s master, Ambrosius Blenk, was inspired by the great Flemish artist Hieronymus Bosch. If I have learnt anything from these writers and artists and their unique voices it is that I should never attempt to imitate anyone else.
What is the best compliment a reader has said about your books?
Some readers have told me that they have become as lost in the world of the Mirrorscape as I was when I wrote it. The greatest compliment must be that they are able to see with their mind’s eye exactly what I saw with mine when I wrote it.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any other projects?
As I have only recently finished the three Mirrorscape books I am back working on my drawings and paintings for a spell but I have a wealth of other stories that I intend to write.
Is there any additional info you would like to share with the readers?
I really hope that they enjoy Mirrorscape and its sequels. But more than that, I hope that it inspires them to seek out great works of art and to experience a little of the thrill that I feel when I look at them.
And please let me know what you think of Mirrorscape.
I have a copy of Mirrorscape (ARC) for a giveaway.
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Contest ends @ midnight (CST) November 5, 2009. U.S. and Canada Residents Only (Sorry!)