More books by Will Peterson
PublisherWalker Books Ltd
Suitable for AgesFeatured Books for 11+ readers
Publication date5th May 2008
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Triskellion (Audio CD)
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The Lovereading comment:
This is the audio version of the book Triskellion which is the first extraordinary novel in a planned trilogy, combining edge-of-the-seat suspense, gripping mystery and archaeological adventure. It’s an inventive cross between The X-Files and The Da Vinci Code; pacy and suspenseful and sure to appeal to fans of Darren Shan, Anthony Horowitz and Garth Nix. Will Peterson is the pseudonym of acclaimed novelist Mark Billingham and TV writer and performer Peter Cocks.
SynopsisTriskellion (Audio CD) by Will Peterson
This is an audio CD of the first extraordinary novel in a new trilogy, combining nail-biting suspense, gripping mystery and archaeological adventure with a paranormal twist.Rachel and Adam are sent to stay with their grandmother, following their parents' divorce. But the quiet English village is a sinister, unsettling place. Is there a dark heart beating beneath the thatched roofs of Triskellion? It is a place protected by an ancient, three-bladed artefect; a village where crops never fall and where the war memorial is blank; a community with much to protect. With the help of the mysterious Gabriel, Rachel and Adam begin to unearth centuries-old secrets and make a shocking revelation about their family's past - and their own future...This is the first in a thrilling and genre-busting trilogy for children and the dazzling joint fiction debut from Will Peterson - the pseudonym of acclaimed novelist Mark Billingham and TV writer and performer Peter Cocks. An inventive cross between "The X-Files" and "The Da Vinci Code", "Triskellion" is a pacy, suspenseful read that is sure to appeal to fans of Darren Shan, Anthony Horowitz and Garth Nix.
About The Author
Will Peterson is the pseudonym of Mark Billingham (right) and Peter Cocks (left). Mark is the acclaimed, award-winning author of the best-selling Tom Thorne crime novels including Sleepyhead, Scaredy Cat and Lazybones, while Peter is a popular children’s TV writer and performer. Mark and Peter have worked together on many much-loved programmes such as Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, Knight School and The Cramp Twins.
Q&A with Mark and Peter
1. It’s not often that two writers get together to write a novel as one – how did you go about the actual writing of it and how easy was it to work together to develop the plot and characters in the first place?
It was very easy to work together as we had been writing children’s comedy and drama together for TV for ten years by sitting either side of a desk and batting ideas back and forth. Then one of us would write, while the other one shouted and vice-versa! With Triskellion, once we had the structure sorted out then we would write chapters or larger chunks of the book and then edit each other’s work:
Peter: I would edit out any corny jokes and references to football.
Mark: I would put a line through endless descriptions of Chippendale teapots, people’s shoes, National Trust potting sheds and suchlike.
We had originally thought of Triskellion as an idea for a children’s drama, so we had a very good idea of how the plot would play out and who the characters were. However, the plot became far more complex once we started writing and the characters more interesting. A few of them got a little nicer … but most of them became quite a lot nastier!
2. Why did the two of you decide to write a novel for children as your first joint piece of writing and why a trilogy?
Our joint background had been in children’s TV, and writing together was something we were already comfortable with. So we already had a long-term commitment to making quality entertainment for kids. In recent years the opportunities to do anything of worth or on a large scale on children’s TV have diminished enormously. Children’s appetite for reading, on the other hand has grown in inverse proportion to TV’s shrinkage and well beyond anyone’s expectations. We were also aware that paranormal mysteries, thrillers and horror are hugely popular with the 10+ audience. So for us, rather than think up another TV show, it made a lot of sense to give the customers what they want and write something paranormal, mysterious and horrifyingly great for children! By writing a trilogy, we felt we could develop the story well beyond the scope of a single novel. Also, it allows us to develop an idea that we had of writing three children’s books that follow the same protagonists, but one which develops in age and style over the three books. The first book starts in a recognisable, cosy English setting, which we then set out to undermine. The second book branches out across Europe and becomes darker as the children discover their growing powers and the jeopardy in which this places them. The third book … well, that would be telling, but safe to say that it will be modern in tone and setting and will end up a very long way away …
3. The world you’ve created in Triskellion is a wonderful feat of the imagination – Where did the inspiration for the story come from?
Thank you. The original spark of an idea came from a newspaper article about a dig on a Bronze Age burial in Dorset. DNA tests on the bones showed that the farmer who worked the land in the 1990s was a direct descendant of the Bronze age warrior buried on the land 3,000 years earlier! We liked the idea that, until recently, it was possible for families to stay on the same spot for generations.
Also there is a book by an Oxford professor called Brian Sykes who is an expert on DNA. He wrote a book called The Seven Daughters of Eve which proposes that nearly everyone in Europe is descended from one of seven original women. This got us thinking about questions of identity. Does it matter where you are from at all? Genetically or geographically? Or do the genes in your makeup have a real impact on who you are now? What would have happened if your Bronze Age ancestor, wherever they are from in the world had been from ‘elsewhere’ ? How far would that strand of DNA have spread by the 21st century? And … who would you be?
4. What children’s authors with similar appeal do you enjoy reading?
Philip Pullman, Michael Morpurgo, Charlie Higson.
5. What research was involved in order to write the novel?
There was quite a lot of archaeological and historical detail required …
Peter: I studied History of Art and Architecture, so the details about Saxon churches and country houses were within my remit. We were careful to make sure that Laura Sullivan’s research into burial sites stacked up, finding similar digs and excavation reports on the internet. We also had a couple of books about runes from which we attempted to make translations. Not Tolkien, we admit, but close!
Mark: We were both very familiar with the workings of a television crew on location … their effect on the local community, the demands of an egocentric presenter and the endless pub lunches … so our research had already been done, really.
Peter: We also made several trips to parts of the West Country to make sure that old-fashioned, slamming-door trains still run on some lines; that characters like the Commodore still exist and that there are villages that are completely deserted at three in the afternoon.
Mark: We are pleased to report that all three are still alive and kicking in the West Country, as is Morris Dancing.
6. What advice can you give would-be children’s authors in getting published?
I think the best advice is to try and write something that you would like to read … and more particularly the kind of thing that you would have liked to have read when you were young.
More about Mark Billngham
As a child:
I grew up in Birmingham and went to King Edward VI Camp Hill Boys School where I quickly became involved with all aspects of an active drama department. It was a major moment of enlightenment when I discovered that although showing off was frowned upon in class, it was positively encouraged once you were on stage. I played the Artful Dodger in Oliver! performed Shakespeare and Stoppard (badly) and decided that I wanted to become an actor.
At home I was devouring books from an early age, especially detective fiction to which I was alerted by an eccentric maths teacher who preferred to read us The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes than teach quadratic equations. It’s his fault that I write crime fiction and can’t add up.
I think I was no more than averagely mischievous as a child and though I was not beyond lobbing the occasional egg at a bus or ringing people’s doorbells and running away, I tended to back away at the suggestion of anything really bad. I’ve always preferred my jeopardy on the page …
As an adult:
Having decided that an actor’s life involved far fewer exams than that of a lawyer, I studied drama at Birmingham University. These were three very happy years that involved a good deal of dressing up, pretending to be a tree and trying to come to terms with the fact that someone was willing to give me a grant to do it. Once I had graduated, a group of us formed Bread & Circuses, a left-wing theatre company with whom I toured for a few years until finally winding up in London and joining the ranks of out of work actors. I played a variety of coppers and thugs on everything from The Bill to Crossroads and began to realize that I wasn’t cut out for acting, which seemed to involve a great deal of staring out of the window and waiting for the phone to ring. At the same time I was developing a real passion for stand-up comedy and as half of The Tracy Brothers, a musical-comedy double act, began working on the UK comedy circuit in the late eighties.The best acting job I ever had was on the show Maid Marian And Her Merry Men, playing Gary the Sheriff’s dim-witted henchman and it was while working on that show that I began to write for TV. I spent the majority of the ‘90s writing an assortment of shows for television and travelling the country as a solo stand-up. This was when I met and began working with Peter Cocks (the other half of Will Peterson). We wrote a variety of cartoons, kids’ comedy dramas and eventually created our own show Knight School for ITV. We also developed ideas for a paranormal thriller called Triskellion which was eventually to find a very different kind of life many years later … during this whole period of avoiding a proper job and showing off for money, I was still a passionate reader of crime fiction and was lucky enough to land a publishing deal in 2000. Though I still do the odd bit of stand-up, life is now spent writing books which, if I’m honest, is what I wanted to do all along. While not spending as much time as possible with my family, I travel widely promoting the series of crime novels featuring Detective Tom Thorne as well as Triskellion, for younger readers which now means that alongside reviews in the Guardian and The Sunday Times, I have criticism from my own children to deal with.
As an artist:
When I wrote the first Tom Thorne novel, I was simply trying to write the kind of book I enjoyed reading and I’ve approached all the subsequent books the same way. I write a book a year and I’m quite disciplined. Although this does not always mean that I write everyday, I always deliver a novel on the day the previous one is published. This means that I can enjoy the hullabaloo of publication without that scary voice in my head telling me that I’ve got another book to finish! Writing has been a very solitary process up to now, but working with Peter on Triskellion has been a real treat and I think that bouncing ideas off someone else can be hugely productive (as well as being a lot of fun). Sometimes we work in Peter’s shed and sometimes at a thatched cottage in the Cotswolds and even though the books are rather dark and scary, there is always a lot of laughter when we’re working together. Although we now write for a living, both Peter and I come from performing backgrounds which means that when we are doing events to promote Triskellion, there's a good deal of dressing up, showing off and putting on funny voices. Children can be a very demanding and critical audience, but they tend not to get drunk and throw things, for which we are very grateful …
Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Mark Billingham:
1. When I was thirteen I played table-tennis at county level.
2. I once serenaded Dannii Minogue on television dressed as Elvis Presley.
3. I have performed stand-up comedy in China.
4. I was the first human being to appear on Spitting Image.
5. I love country and western music.
6. Fans of my crime novels include Gordon Brown, Sporty Spice and Nelson Mandela.
7. I once appeared on Crossroads.
8. I can play tunes on my teeth.
9. I am terrified of the dentist.
10. I support Wolves!
More about Peter Cocks
As a child:
I grew up in Gravesend, Kent and went to Gravesend Grammar School where my main interest was acting. My dad was a multi-talented artist, musician and antique collector and so I grew up surrounded by paintings, books, junk and a lot of noise.
I lived right by the misty Thames marshes where Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations, which was my favourite book, especially the bits about Magwitch, the convict. It was a good place to feed and inspire a spooky imagination. I used to spend days riding my bike across the marshes; discovering disused forts with hidden tunnels, catching eels and making fires, watching rusty old container ships floating along the horizon up the Thames towards London. I was also very inspired by Lord of the Rings and the marshes were my “Middle Earth”. Once I tried to smoke a pipe, like Gandalf. I was sick for two days and decided to become Frodo instead. I think I was a hobbit for at least a year.
As an adult:
I studied History of Art at the University of East Anglia. I was in the same year as Charlie Higson who writes the young James Bond books, but I didn’t know him. He was cool and had a Mohawk haircut and the most famous rock band in Norwich, while I wore a blazer and thought I was in Brideshead Revisited. I was probably in the wrong place at the right time. After a few years working in interior design in London, I ran away to New York and joined a performance art group. We travelled the world for three years performing a show called The Living Paintings. Every day I was painted blue and hung on the wall for up to eight hours. I saw the world from the USA to Japan, Australia, Hungary, Germany, France, Italy and Spain … all from the inside of an art gallery.As a Living Painting, I was invited to appear on Blue Peter (not just because I was painted blue and my name is Peter). After that, I began to work in children’s television. I worked on Saturday morning programmes both as a writer behind the scenes and also as “characters” in front of the camera, most recently on ITV’s Ministry of Mayhem. While working on Saturday shows, I met Mark Billingham with whom I write the Triskellion books. He is the other half of Will Peterson, and we have written children’s TV together for fifteen years. We have written on many dramas for the BBC including Big Kids and Kerching, and we have also written cartoons, such as The Cramp Twins. I still travel a lot, and I love places that have special archaeological, historical, ritualistic or religious significance. Places that give you a sense of history. I like places such as the south coast of the Isle of Wight, where you can put your foot in a fossilised dinosaur imprint. Or remote villages in Norfolk where you can lean against a pillar in a church where you know a bored child might have fallen asleep during service 700 years before. A square in Morocco where slaves were traded until just a hundred years ago. Or standing in a busy street in London, knowing that hundreds of years before someone had been beheaded or burned at the stake on that very spot … Many of the settings and some of the characters in the Triskellion books are based on places I have visited and on people I have met. Some of them are just made up …
As an artist:
In 1997, Mark Billingham and I wrote our own TV series called Knight School for Granada TV. It had lots of great actors in it, including Roger Lloyd Pack who is Barty Crouch Sr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Knight School was about a school for the training of young knights. We wrote and published a book based on the series. Unfortunately, a book about a certain school for young wizards came out at the same time and rather overshadowed Knight School! Once Mark and I played Daniel Craig (James Bond … and Lord Asriel) at poker. We were not, strictly speaking, working at the time. But we are very pleased that we beat him and tell everyone about it whenever we can. I like to work in a shed away from our house … well, it’s a bit bigger than a shed, it’s more of a converted stable where my children can’t throw things at me or comment on my sad dancing. The walls are covered in cedarwood, like a log cabin. It smells a bit like Christmas trees. I am watched over by a stuffed deer called Nick. When Mark and I are working together, we spend a lot of time looking at the deer for inspiration. Triskellion is my proudest achievement. Writing telly is all very well, and making TV shows is fun (most of the time). But as soon as the screen is switched off, your work goes up in a puff of smoke, sometimes never to be seen again. A book on the other hand, is concrete, and Triskellion is a substantial book. You can hold it, you can read it, you can read it again. The cover is wonderful and at 365 plus pages, there is a page to read every day of the year. So, if you were really stuck, you could use it as a calendar, with a few extra pages for weekends and leap years. It is also one and a half inches thick, so once you have read it and read it again, you can use it as a step to reach things that are an inch and a half taller than you.
Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Peter Cocks:
1. As a child, my favourite breakfast was a jar of pickled mussels.
2. I was an under-14 boxing champion.
3. I won an original Raleigh Chopper bike in a competition in Buster comic in 1972.
4. I am good friends with Basil Brush. I write some of his (bad) jokes. He sends me Christmas cards.
5. I was once the Penguin in a biscuit commercial.
6. I used to be ‘The Doc’ on ITV’s Ministry of Mayhem.
7. I have worked with Girls Aloud and McFly!
8. I won a Blue Peter badge for being a Living Painting (even though I was 25!).
9. My daughter is a child actress called Rusty O’Hara. She is in the new film Wild Child with Emma Roberts.
10. As part of my work, I have sometimes dressed as a lady.
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