Welcome to another Spensations feature.
Introducing... The Obsidian Pebble
Rhys A. Jones
Published By: Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
Genre: Middle Grade - Mystery
11-year old Oz Chambers lives in a haunted house. His mother wants to move, but Oz would rather do double algebra (yuck) every day for twelve months than leave. Where others see spooky, Oz sees wonder and mystery and aching reminders of his deceased dad. When he and his friends hear ghostly footsteps in the boarded-up dorm at Halloween, it leads to an exploration of the old place's eerie reputation. In his Dad's locked study, Oz finds a parcel addressed to him and posted by his dad the day before he died. Inside is the obsidian pebble, a technology of astonishing scientific power and a clue to Penwurt's secrets. Suddenly Oz begins to change; he goes from maths dunce to A student overnight and has to deal with suspicious teachers and jealous pupils. But the footsteps in the locked rooms don't go away and slowly, Oz begins to knit together the strands of lies and mystery that tie the obsidian pebble, his father and him together. What Oz hasn't bargained for is that he's not alone in that search for understanding and that solving Penwurt's puzzles lead to other, much darker secrets that will test his loyalty and his bravery to the limit.
As soon as I read a haunted house I was sold. I don't read a whole lot of middle grade books as sometimes I find them "too young" for me but I am starting to read a few more and The Obsidian Pebble is definitely one that I will give a go as it just sounds awesome.
Now please welcome Rhys...
Thank you for being here on K-Books and joining me for this feature.
Well I am such a massive fan of Spencer Hill Press, including the new imprints Spence City and Spencer Hill Contemporary. What’s it like being a part of the amazing Spencer Hill Press family?
Very nice indeed. I have had lots of support from a great editor and working with them has been very easy, despite the Atlantic Ocean being inconveniently in the way.
So you have a book, The Obsidian Pebble coming out with Spencer Hill Press in October. How excited are you about releasing it into the world?
Releasing a new book is always a little scary. It’s not my first boo—I’ve written adult thrillers before—but it is my first book for this audience. So I know that the world will not stand still in October when it launches, but maybe I will. It represents the end of a long journey and the beginning of another. This book has been six or seven years in the making, but it is the first of a five book series. Therefore I am excited and relieved and scared all at the same time.
So talk us through your typical writing routine.
It has to fit around the day job. I am an eye surgeon as well. But I’m an early riser. I know that I am my most productive before the dawn and that I’m definitely not a night owl. I get up, walk the dogs, make myself a cup of tea and retire to the study—which for me is a garden office…okay, shed. I write longhand with my favourite type of pen in an illegible scrawl. The first edit begins when I transfer to the PC later that morning or in the evening when I get home. Scrivener is my chosen software weapon of choice. I’m a plotter. The Artefact series is heavily plotted, both for each book and for the 5 book arc. That means constantly checking things in 3 or 4 manuscripts at a time. Great fun.
Is there any particular character that you enjoyed writing more than others?
The senior mistress of Seabourne County school, Miss Swinson (aka The Volcano). She is one of Oz Chambers’ (my protagonist’s) enemies. She is a character that gets a reaction from everyone because she is in a position of power and abuses it shamelessly. That really strikes home because she is a very unpleasant little madam. And then there is Ruff Adams, one of Oz’s best mates. He has all the best lines, some of which I wish I’d used when I was 12.
Are there any particular scenes that you enjoy writing more than others?
The penultimate scene of the book takes place in the library of the old house, Penwurt. This is when the true secret of the Obsidian pebble is revealed. It still gives me goose pimples (of the very best kind) whenever I read it. And I must have read it a hundred times.
So your book is about a guy living in a haunted house. What inspired you to write about this?
In all honesty, I think that all old houses are haunted in one way or another. Things happen. Tragedies, dramas, deaths, these are facts of life. I simply can't believe that somehow or other they aren't recorded by the permanent structures we dwell in. If we could just release that stored memory and energy…. There, you got me started. Let's just say, ‘haunted house’ is a bit of an oversimplification. People believe what they want to believe. And I believe that we all exist as a function of the past and the trigger for the future. Oh dear, I’ve become all philosophical.
The Obsidian Pebble is for the Middle Grade age group. What made you want to write a MG novel?
Yes. Middle grade which means 10 to 14. But really anyone will get lost in this. Why? Well I have 3 grown-up male children. I started writing stories for them when they were just a bit younger than the target audience for this book. And I found that my best memory, voice if you like, fitted that age group. They were pretty formative years for me and I was able to dissolve back into the me of then. An old school friend of mine read the book and told me that it made him remember those days, too.
The Obsidian is categorized as the Mystery genre. What made you decide to write in this genre?
I think the mystery, the need to find out through your character’s struggles, is what stories are all about. If there is no mystery then the book you’re reading is a textbook on writing clever words in flowery language. I essentially write for myself to try and intrigue myself. Most authors do if they enjoy what they're doing. The Obsidian Pebble is the result of me, having thought of the premise, trying to find out what on earth happens next.
So is there any inside information or sneak-peaks that you can give us?
Hmmm. Those that pay attention will be rewarded. I'm sure that everyone could do with an Obsidian Pebble of their own. Oh, and sometimes, people really can be too good to be true.
And finally what can we expect from you in the future after The Obsidian Pebble?
Well now, there are 5 in the series. 3 are written in the last 2 planned. The 2nd, the Beast of Seabourn, turns a little darker and scarier and after that—hold on to your hats. I think it's very likely that there will be another series of books very different from the Artefact series for Middle Grade, too. I know there is because Spencer Hill Middle Grade have made an offer on them. These feature a boy and his grandmother, who happens to be one of the cunning folk. Her name? Mother Merryweather.
And in February 2014, the 1st of my adult books comes out with Spence city under the pseudonym DC Farmer. This is a contemporary urban fantasy called, The 400Lb Gorilla. And yes I have applied for an extra 2 hours in the day
Getting to Know You – Quick Fire Round
Contemporary or Paranormal? Paranormal
Sci-Fi or Dystopia? SCi-Fi
Hardcopy or E-Book? Aaargh. I use both
Bookmark or Dog-Ear? Dog ear.
Book or Movie? Boooooook
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
Summer or Winter? Winter. Dark nights curled up with a book
Ice-Cream or Cake? Cake
Coffee or Tea? Tea
Thank you so much for being here on K-Books with us today and best of look with the release.