Thomas Wharton lives in Edmonton, Canada, with his wife and three children. He is an assistant professor of English at the University of Alberta. His first novel Icefields (1995), won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book. A collection of short fiction, The Logogryph, won the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction at the 2005 Alberta Book Awards and was shortlisted for the 2006 IMPAC Dublin Prize. The Shadow of Malabron is the author’s first children’s book.
Q & A with Thomas Wharton
1. This is your first novel for children or teenagers. What made you make the move to writing for a younger reader and why fantasy?
As a reader I began as a fan of fantasy. My earliest efforts at writing were attempts to imitate the writers I loved because I wanted more of what they’d written and there wasn’t any more. So I had to trying writing it myself. Then, years later, my kids asked me if I would write a book for them and I agreed to try – and fantasy is what came out, not surprisingly.
2. From where did the inspiration for The Perilous Realm come?
From lifelong admiration for the work of certain fantasy writers, like Ursula LeGuin and JRR Tolkien. And from a love of traditional stories and myths. Our human need for Story is a wonderful mystery to me, and I wanted to explore that.
3. How many titles do you envisage being in The Perilous Realm fantasy sequence?
There will be three books in this series, although by calling the series The Perilous Realm without the word “trilogy” I want to suggest how closely they’re all linked. Maybe this is one large novel in three parts.
4. Which character did you most enjoy creating and why?
When I asked my kids what they wanted in this book I was writing for them, my daughter insisted there be a wolf. That’s how Shade was born. I like his loyalty and that there is no guile in him. I think of him as the ideal animal companion I would’ve liked when I was a kid.
5. What research was required in order for you to write The Shadow of Malabron?
Reading a lot of traditional stories was important – since the novel is set in the world of Story, I wanted it to suggest familiar aspects of stories we all know, while making them somehow strange at the same time. And since I’ve got characters from a number of different story “worlds” (e.g., Arthurian, Norse, fairy tales) I needed to be sure they dressed, talked and acted in a manner fitting their origin.
6. What authors with similar appeal do you enjoy reading?
I like the idea of multiple realities in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. I like stories about alternate or multiple worlds, like C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books & Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series. And authors who play with the familiar elements of story and fairy tale, like Terry Pratchett & Eoin Colfer. And anything by Ursula LeGuin.
7. Which authors might readers of Malabron also enjoy?
I can recommend the above books and writers. And one of the greatest children’s books ever about the power of stories: Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story.
A rebellious teenager finds himself transported to another world and there he finds himself forced to go on a perilous journey with a group of strikingly different characters including a speaking wolf. It's a fantasy that weaves the fabric of well-loved stories into an epic adventure that will introduce you to some characters that you will love and others that will put such cold fear into your bones that you feel the world might end. Full of good and evil, bravery and fearfulness, it's a fantasy sequence for young people written on a grand scale that pays homage to Tolkien in its sweeping invention. The Shadow of Malabron is a debut novel and the first book in The Perilous Realm sequence. A message from the author: 'The Perilous Realm is not just a world with stories in it. This world is Story. It is the place that all of the tales in our world come from. Whatever you might find in a story, you will find here. Adventures, strange encounters, riddles. Heroes and monsters. Bravery, goodness and terrible evil. And many other things that have yet no name in our world.'
When Will learns that his friends in the Perilous Realm are in danger, he realizes that he must go back to Fable, their world of Story where Malabron the Night King threatens all who live there. But Will's friend Rowen has journeyed further than the rest of his companions, into the Weaving, an ever-changing place of mystery and untold dangers from which none return...
Long ago, Malabron the Night King tried to turn all stories into one, his story, a nightmare of absolute power. But when Will, a rebellious teenager, stumbles from the present into the realm where stories come from, he is caught up in Malabron's evil designs. Aided by some of the story folk including the feisty Rowen, her grandfather Pendrake (a loremaster) and Shade, the laconic but loyal wolf, Will must combat a host of perils, if he is ever to find the gateless gate that will take him home. The author is an award-winning writer of adult literary fantasy, whose work has been translated into several languages.