Angel of Fire
Engaging new junior fiction book from Wendy Milton!
Angel of Fire tells the story of a prickly, fiercely independent boy who's in hospital after being hit by a truck. Zach Brinkley is resuscitated but winds up on life support, unable to communicate with anyone except some bizarre visitors, including an irritating 'winged thing" called Astra and a set of scary twins, Milly & Billy. The twins tell him that his being hit by the truck was no accident!
Someone is trying to kill him? Who would want him dead? And why? This story follows Zach's determination to stay alive with the help of Astra, the twins and his only worldly contact, the insufferable, know-it-all Sophie Ferguson. Will he emerge from his coma in time to thwart his would-be killer?
Angel of Fire is a lively, up-beat tale for young readers who like action, quirky characters and a good dose of humour.
Wendy Milton is the author of two popular junior fiction books, The Doolalley Kid (Lothian Books, 2005) and The Boy Who Disappeared (Lothian Books, 2006). Her latest book, Angel of Fire, is the first in a series, with the second book planned for release in 2014. Wendy graduated from The University of Newcastle in the early seventies and went on to complete a first-class Masters in English Literature from The University of Sydney. She taught Higher School Certificate English at the Newcastle Grammar School until 1983, in which year she left to live and work in Sydney. She's currently living in Rozelle NSW, with her husband, Michael, and Mousie the cat.
Angel of Fire
Author: Wendy Milton
Interview with Wendy Milton
Question: What inspired the story of Angel of Fire?
Wendy Milton: This story was the product of much thought. Inspiration is wonderful but it rarely occurs, in my experience. I'd had two children's books published in 2005 and 2006 by Lothian Children's Books, The Doolalley Kid and The Boy Who Disappeared. In both I tried to be original. In writing Angel of Fire, I did the same - i.e. looked for something that (hopefully) hadn't been done before. One day my search involved a list commencing with the words "the boy who...". I'd written about a boy who developed talents somewhat spookily (The Doolalley Kid) and a boy who became less distinct (The Boy Who Disappeared). I tried a number of words but kept coming back to "died". Initially I rejected it as unsuitable but the idea wouldn't go away. I'd read about people who claimed they could leave their bodies. One said that while her body was being operated on she hovered near the ceiling & looked down on the doctors who were performing the operation. The idea of a boy who 'died', could leave his body & had adventures whilst he was stuck between life and death grew from there. I hope children find the story positive and amusing.
Question: What do you enjoy most about writing junior fiction?
Wendy Milton: I love writing junior fiction. When I was a child (in the dark ages before television and electronic games) I devoured books. Writing for children allows me to enter that magical world again. Possibly there are fewer restrictions when one is writing for the young (the imagination can roam free?) When I was twelve, someone asked what I wanted to do with my life. Without hesitation, I said I'd like to write children's books. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to doing so until middle-age. I write to entertain so what I enjoy most is getting feedback from children saying they've enjoyed my stories. This is my reward.
Question: How did you go about creating the character of Zach?
Wendy Milton: I made Zach a thorny, prickly boy because I didn't want to write about a boy who was Mr Sunshine and Mr Popularity. I wanted him to be 'on the outer' without the complication of a best friend. I suppose I wanted him to be on the edge because in the story he's hovering between life a death. At the same time, I wanted children to understand him and empathise with him and like him, so I gave him a sense of humour. One can always like characters who are funny even when they say the wrong things and are their own worst enemies.
Question: Why was it important to include action and humour in Angel of Fire?
Wendy Milton: There's not much physical action in Angel of Fire because Zach is comatose. But there's lots going on in Zach's head. Someone wants him dead. Who? Why? How is he supposed to protect himself? That's bleak so it was important to lighten the story with humour. Children love to laugh & I didn't want this book to be 'dark'. Zach has a sassy sense of humour and there's lots of situational humour in the exchanges between the characters.
Question: Are you currently writing another book? Can you tell us about it?
Wendy Milton: There are two sequels, the first centring around Sophie Ferguson, a girl who's 'been here before', according to Zach's mother. I haven't decided on a title but may call it Sophie's Return. Originally I intended calling it The Spectre of Bottleneck Bay because it's about a ghost called Hank who's leftover from World War II & inhabits the abandoned railway tunnels beneath Bottleneck Bay. The story is about reincarnation.
The second sequel (Book 3) is about Zach's first term in high school. His parents send him to a private school called Josiah Batty Grammar (Sophie is there, too). In it Zach discovers a school ghost who tells him a secret about the headmaster. The ghost is the spirit of the school's founder and he wants revenge for what he sees as a terrible wrong. He expects Zach to put it right!
Interview by Brooke Hunter