Although I write romance, I have a young son and I can appreciate the adventures of Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and now Jake West. When I set forth to do interviews of other authors I wanted to open it up to all types. I would consider myself a newbie to the romance genres, I only started reading them consistently about six years ago. I read all types of books, I just want a story to fall into. With that said ... this is my interview with M.J. Webb.
MP-Tell us a little about Jake West and his newly found responsibility.
MW-Jake is an ordinary fifteen year old schoolboy from the historic city of Lichfield in England. He lives a pretty unremarkable life by anyone’s standards until the day that he and his best friend, Ben Brooker, help to clear out Jake’s grandfather’s attic. When they stumble upon an old chest, they find an intricately carved wooden box hidden inside. It has no hinges and they can see no way of opening it.
Jake’s hand passes over the crest embossed on top and it opens to reveal a magical light, a gateway to other worlds. But, the boys have now alerted everyone to its survival and they have set in motion a sequence of events which will place their future, as well as the future of us all, in great danger.
Jake learns of his destiny from his grandfather, the very person who had tried his utmost to shield him from it by faking his own death. Harry West was the last of the Keepers, guardians of the stones and wielders of the greatest weapon we have in the fight against evil. He had buried this secret along with all evidence of the Keeper’s existence, in order to save his family from the pain it had brought him. But now he has no choice. He has to confide in his young grandson and prepare him for the fight of his life.
Ferocious warriors dispatched by an evil, wizard King are coming for him, they will not stop until he is dead and they have the stones. When the time comes to face them, Jake and Ben escape from a deadly pursuit by taking the only option they have and entering the light. They emerge in a strange, mystical land, in the middle of a civil war, but the box is damaged and it will no longer take them home.
The boy must become a man in an instant. He must fulfill the prophecies and save an entire world. The adventure of a lifetime has begun but the stakes have never been higher.
MP-When writing an adventure that takes place in a mythical land is it harder to keep track of the world or freeing because you don’t have people say that’s not what the land is like there?
MW-The big advantage is the lack of time needed for research. This was crucial for me as I have a full time job and two small children; I needed to maximize every hour I had because I genuinely did not know when I would next have the opportunity to write. When the whole concept is drawn from your imagination, it is uniquely liberating and anything is possible. I would write with loose plans in mind but then I found that more often than not I would rip up my plans when the mood took me, going off on a completely different tangent altogether. How great is it to be able to do that?
In short, I think it was far easier writing about a fictitious place and I am in awe of those who write contemporary, accurate, descriptive novels.
MP-How do you think Jake’s adventures are relatable to your book’s young readers?
MW-Honestly? I have reviews and comments from lots of teenagers who loved the first book. Some have even said that they preferred it to King Harry (Potter) and I have been asked to go into several schools. The gratifying thing is that my known readers range from eight (I find that amazing) to seventy-three. I have over fifty reviews from a wide cross section of the public and that is fantastic. There are strong elements of humour in both books as well as plenty of excitement and adventure. They also have central themes of loyalty, friendship and sacrifice. I think most young boys will want to be Jake or Ben, and I know that in the sequel at least, most young girls will really relate to Princess Zephany. After all, the two main characters were written for my children.
MP-I know there’s a third book in the works, but do you have any other works in progress outside of Jake’s world?
MW-Ha ha… Are you kidding? My time is so severely limited at present that I have to book a writing session in with my wife (or rather, ask for permission). If and when I retire, I would love to explore other genres and works, but I think for the present I have more than enough on my hands with Jake West and his adventures (which, by the way, have only just begun!). I have an idea with the final book which will open up all sorts of possibilities.
MP-Tell us a little about yourself and your writing style.
MW-I am an immensely proud forty-something father of two and husband to one. I live around two hundred yards from the house I was born in. I have been away but I came back because I love the people of my home town and my family and friends mean everything to me. I have worked for the UK Government for almost twenty years, though I have had a variety of jobs which have given me invaluable experience of people from all backgrounds.
I write as I think the everyday person wants. I try not to overcomplicate matters as I’m mindful of my target audience. The language is easy to understand and the story is moved along at a fair rate of knots. I try to make the dialogue as realistic as possible and place myself in the character’s shoes. I take the view that, if I am excited by a passage, then my readers will be too. If it bores me, it is discarded on the first edit.
I write long hand and type up afterwards because that is by far the best edit. After that, I probably edit again nine or ten times until I am happy, depending upon how many dinner hours at work I manage to secure free from other tasks
When fifteen year old Jake West and his best friend, Ben Brooker, help Jake’s grandfather clear his attic of the junk he’s collected from his years of travelling, the boys discover an old chest containing a beautifully carved wooden box. The box contains a set of five mysterious stones which possess unlimited powers. Together they are the greatest weapon we have in the eternal fight against evil. But when they erupt to emit a bright beam of light, it sparks an epic journey which will lead Jake into a dangerous world and to the discovery of some strange family secrets.
The future of this world and countless others lies in the hands of a fifteen year old boy. If he can’t protect the stones........?
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