Sixteen-year-old Will Starling is pulled from the sea with no memory of his past. In his blazer is a strange notebook with a bullet lodged inside: a bullet meant for him. As London prepares for the Blitz, Will soon finds himself pursued by vicious agents and a ruthless killer known as the Pastor. All of them want Will’s notebook and will do anything to get it. As Will’s memory starts to return, he realises he is no ordinary sixteen-year old. He has skills that make him a match for any assassin.
But there is something else. At his core is a deep-rooted rage that he cannot explain. Where is his family and why has no one reported him missing? Fighting for survival with the help of Mi5 agent-in-training, Anna Wilder, Will follows leads across London in a race against time to find the Stones of Fire before the next air raid makes a direct hit and destroys London forever.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
J.D. was born in Belfast at the start of the Troubles, and began writing stories at a young age to help understand the madness unfolding around him. A lover of reading, he devoured a diverse range of books – his early influences include Fleming, Tolkien, Shakespeare and the Brontës.
He left Belfast at the age of nineteen and worked as a chef, bartender, waiter and later began a career in writing for the software industry.
These days he divides his time between Brighton and London, where he lives with his partner and their two dogs.
MY REVIEW: I would like to thank J. D. Fennell, David Headley and The Dome Press for allowing me the opportunity to read an ARC of Sleeper prior to taking part and being a stop on this blog tour. I can confirm that I chose to read this ARC and all opinions in this review are my own and are completely unbiased.
When asked if I would like to take part in the blog tour for Sleeper, I jumped at the chance. Upon reading the blurb of Sleeper it reminded me straight away of the Jason Bourne series, and I love Jason Bourne!!!
Sleeper is blindingly good. I was not disappointed at all. What a debut YA novel! I am even surprised when I say YA if I have to be honest because all the way throughout reading Sleeper, it never once occurred to me that this was not an adult fiction novel!
J. D. Fennell writes with such heavy substance, that from the first word Sleeper kicked off and in a little over 200 pages it carried me along on an action packed theme ride, at a pace that I never once lost interest in or tired of.
The main character Will Starling is definitely a young Jason Bourne crossed with a young James Bond and of course, it wouldn’t be an action thriller without a leading lady and in Will’s case he has Anna, who’s abilities match any experienced Mi5 Agent, despite her being only in training.
The other characters each hold a strong presence throughout, and despite there being an abundance of characters, you don’t become lost – instead, you quickly learn who each of them are and the many different roles that they bring to the story.
Overall, this is a great novel; one I hope is only just the beginning of a series and not being overly familiar with YA novels, I can honestly say J. D. Fennell has piqued my interest – I now need to take a look at and research other YA novels!
FEATURED AUTHOR Q&A
As a part of the blog tour today I am very lucky to be interviewing J. D. Fennell.
Hi JD, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? Hi Laura. It’s my pleasure and thank you for hosting me. I was born in Belfast during the start of the Troubles, a fractious period that actually started me on the path to writing, thanks to my form teacher. “Writing is therapy. It will help you understand the world around you,” he said. And he was right. In the mid-1980s I moved the south of England and now live in Brighton with my partner and our two dogs.
What are your ambitions for your writing career? I want to write and finish the Sleeper series. I want to spend more time with Will and watch him grow as his story progresses. There is still much to delve into. I have many ideas for other books that are cooking in my head. For instance, I have a crime novel planned and ready to go. Right now, I just cannot leave 1941.
So, what have you written? Sleeper is my second novel and the first to be published.
What is your most recent novel? Sleeper is my debut novel. Set in London, 1941, Sleeper is the story of sixteen-year-old Will Starling, who has lost his memory after an attempt on his life. Will is no ordinary teenager, he has a past that makes him dangerous. He is recruited by the Secret Service to find the Stones of Fire, a mythical weapon of mass destruction. Will and Mi5 agent in training, Anna Wilder, follow leads across London in a race against time to save lives and understand his past.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? Will Starling is one of those extraordinary young heroes who has been through so much, yet carries on at whatever cost to himself. He suffers a lot as the story progresses. Despite that Will has an unshakeable drive, a goal that he must achieve. No spoilers, in case your readers have not read the book.
What genre are your books? YA/Crossover Thriller, Action Adventure
What draws you to this genre? When I write, it feels like I am carrying a camera and filming everything that is happening. I am there with Will, and his friends, in 1941, navigating the crumbling streets of London. There is something wonderful about writing adventure that allows your imagination to experience it.
When did you decide to become a writer? I got the writing bug at primary school and it never left me. Over the years, I have written and attended many classes to help improve my craft. Over the past five years I have gone into overdrive and eventually caught an agent and got published.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I usually write in the morning, five days a week. I will rise early and write for two hours before heading off for my day job. If my brain is not fried, then I will squeeze out more words in the evening. For me, routine is crucial to successfully banging out those words.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? I don’t stress about daily word targets. There’s no point. Obviously, the more the better, however, if I am working on difficult scene, then I may get five hundred words done. On a good day I will do 1500. My output is low compared to some writers as I work around my full-time job.
Where do your ideas come from? I don’t think I can pinpoint one thing. Ideas can be born from a conversation, a photograph, an emotion, a poem, the news. I could go on.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? I am a planner. The idea will cook in my head for a period of months, normally. I will then write a basic synopsis. Following that I will do a chapter by chapter breakdown. That said, sometimes during the writing process, I will go off track and see where an idea takes me. This is not unusual.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? The horrible first draft can take around seven months. It will then typically take a further four months of rewrites before it is ready for delivery to my agent.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I have always had a creative streak. I come from a family of Irish storytellers, who like to tell a yarn. Storytelling and writing improve with practice. The more you do it, the better you get. Well, that’s the theory.
Do you read much and if so which writers inspire you? I read a lot. There are so many writers I admire: Thomas Harris, Emily Bronte, JRR Tolkien, Ian Fleming, Stephen King, Patrick Ness, JK Rowling, Sarah Waters and many more.
What is your favourite book and why? That’s such a tricky question. There have been so many book over the years that have meant so much. I’m going to choose one from my teenage years: The Lord of Rings is a wonderful epic fantasy that I became obsessed with. I would read it repeatedly, immersing myself in Middle-Earth and escaping the world around me. Each time I read it, I found something new that I had missed before. It makes me smile now as I remember that.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness, is a unique, exciting dystopian thriller with a terrific and sometimes terrifying cast of characters. Wonderful read.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Finish what you start and keep a routine. Write everyday if you can, even if it is a small amount. Keep a journal and describe your thoughts and feelings. This will help you tap into emotions that you can transfer to your characters.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included? I don’t think so. That was a wonderful list of questions.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview. Thank you, Laura. It’s been fun.
BLOG TOUR DETAILS:
If you would like to follow the Sleeper Blog Tour, you can do so at the following dates:
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