The Great Space Race – my next book

UK's 'Black Arrow' rocket

‘So what’s next?’ I keep being asked.

Well the happy answer is The Great Space Race. This will be my fourth novel, and it is has nothing to do with the Guild Trilogy. Yep, it’s something entirely new. I’m letting Becca, Doug, Liberty and the gang rest for a bit after their exhausting adventures in the deserts of China.

Step forward new hero Ace Crankshaw – rocketeer guitarist.

My new book is set in the present day and is about a bunch of kids who buy a secondhand British space rocket from an internet auction site for £5 (that’s about 8 US bucks, I reckon). Their plan is to enter a competition – The Great Space Race, no less – to be the first amateurs to land a probe on the Moon. If they get there first, they’ll win $10m, and save their hopeless inventor father from total financial disaster. Along the way they unearth a sinister plot, and discover the race isn’t all it seems. In fact, they end up saving the world with their rubbish 1970s British space rocket, called The Ginger Streak, but I don’t want to give too much away.

The novel will be published by Walker Books in the UK next year. We are still so early in the process that I have no idea about US publication yet; I hope very much that it will be out with Candlewick Press, who are Walker Books’ sister company. As soon as I know any news, I’ll post it here.

Errr… a British space rocket from the 1970s, I hear you ask? YES! We had a British Space Programme (rather than an American Space Program, spelling fans). The UK is the only country in history to have designed, developed and launched satellites successfully using indigenous technology (i.e. we invented the stuff ourselves) and then to have GIVEN UP on it! D’oh!

People often ask ‘Where do you get your ideas from’, and in this case I can give a fairly definite answer: I came up with the germ of the idea for the book when I was passing through the space section of London’s Science Museum. I’d been upstairs researching the engine for Operation Typhoon Shore’s Fighting Dragon/FE2Q Spotter Seaplane cutaway. I saw the Black Arrow rocket hanging from the ceiling and became utterly intrigued (see pic above… is it a giant alien lobster claw?  No, it’s a satellite delivery system!)

The book is a fast-paced adventure story, and will have lots of illustrations in it, just like the trilogy. I’m building lots of stuff, too. A robot monkey toy called Barry is almost complete, and I’m about to begin construction of my ‘Ginger Streak’ rocket for photographic purposes. I’ll be posting loads more on all this soon. I think the illustration will take about 3 months to complete.

Ready for blast off!

Here are a few links about the British Space Programme:

Film 1

Film 2

Film 3

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