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BOOKTHINK: What book are you reading now?

CAVENEY: Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd. She was one of my fellow nominees for the Waterstones prize, with her first novel, A Pure Swift Cry. Tragically, she died from breast cancer earlier this year. Bog Child is set in Northern Ireland during the years of the Bobby Sands hunger strike. It's fabulous, and the world has lost a wonderful talent.

BOOKTHINK: What are your current projects?

CAVENEY: I'm working on a new series - Alec Devlin. If I had to pitch it as a movie, I'd say, "young Indiana Jones." The first of three adventures, The Eye of the Serpent, which is set in Egypt in 1923, will be released in the UK in August 08. I'm now writing the second books, Empire of the Skull which is set in Mexico and features a lost tribe of Aztecs!

BOOKTHINK: Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

CAVENEY: I have for some of the adult titles I've written. But the world of Sebastian Darke is completely fictional, which gives me free rein to invent whatever I like. Alec Devlin has required a lot more research, much of which, due to a shortage of time and funds, is done via the internet.

BOOKTHINK: Who designed the covers?

CAVENEY: David Wyatt, a really skilled artist who has produced covers for lots of fabulous children's books, did the first book. Prince of Pirates has cover art by Johnny Duddle and illustrations by the brilliant Julek Heller. I feel very honoured to have such talented people working on my books.

BOOKTHINK: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

CAVENEY: Selling it! Seriously, the book just fell out of me, but a whole string of publishers and agents failed to see the appeal of it. Then I was finally lucky enough to find Charlie Sheppard at Random House, a really gifted editor, who actually understands what children like to read. This may sound obvious but there are a lot of people in the publishing industry who do not possess this gift.

BOOKTHINK: Do you have any advice for other writers?

CAVENEY: Just one thing. Never, never, NEVER give up.

BOOKTHINK: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

CAVENEY: Yes! I'd love to know what you thought of Sebastian Darke. (And when it's out, Alec Devlin too!) After you've read them, you can go to the feedback section of my website and write a review. There's also a specialist website where you can register for updates, enter quizzes, submit jokes and generally have a lot of fun.

Well, that went well. I quickly broke the seal on the emergency chocolate supplies I keep in the car. I took a therapeutic bite out of a Snickers and tried to decide what had been fact and what had been fiction. Suddenly a curtain moved at one of the upstairs windows, and I'm sure just for a moment I glimpsed the unmistakable shape of a pet Boobah.


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