After the 'anything goes' fantasy world of Sebastian Darke, I wanted to do something a little more rooted in reality; so I pitched the idea for a new series to my editor, Charlie and she liked what she heard. Random House commissioned three adventures and I settled down to write the first one.
Egypt, 1923. Fifteen-year-old Alec Devlin is on his way to the Valley of The Kings to spend the summer holidays working on his Uncle Will's archaeological dig. It's not the first time he's spent his summer this way... but this year things are different.
Uncle Will and his young assistant, Tom, have recently made an amazing discovery - an ancient tomb hidden deep below the earth. But only hours after opening its doors, Uncle Will falls mysteriously ill and Tom seems to have disappeared without trace.
Alec sets about unravelling the tomb's mysteries - seemingly harmless animals have turned into rabid killers, long dead mummies are rising from their tombs, the spirit of a powerful High Priest is claiming people as his living hosts... and Alec must confront a terror that has waited three thousand years to be reborn.
Well, that's the jacket blurb, anyway and I wrote it myself, so I can't complain that it doesn't get across the story. What I'm going for here is Boy's Own Adventure, and I hope I've succeeded in achieving it.
I quickly discovered that I'd had a pretty easy ride with the Sebastian Darke books. As those adventures all took place in an imaginary world, I was free to invent whatever I wanted to. Not so with Alec. Every little detail had to be checked for period authenticity. Clothes, cars, planes, telephones, you name it!
I turned the manuscript around in a remarkably short time frame - around three months from start to finish, mainly to hit a deadline specified by Random House; and as I sit here typing this, I'm waiting rather nervously for news from the Bologna Book Fair, where foreign rights for Alec Devlin are being offered to publishers around the world.
The fun thing about this series is it will deal with a different ancient civilization in each book. For the next one, Alec is off to Mexico to tangle with the Aztecs, but that's only at the planning stage right now. The next hurdle is to complete Sebastian Darke: Prince of Explorers. Meanwhile, Alec Devlin; Eye of the Serpent gets it's UK release on August 7th 2008, so between then and now, I'll keep checking back with you to let you know how it's all progressing.