Archive for children’s books

Battle for Earth is Published!

Posted in Battle for Earth, Extracts with tags , , , , , , on September 1, 2011 by keithmansfield

Hurrah! Johnny Mackintosh: Battle for Earth publishes today (Thursday 1st September, 2011). To celebrate, here’s my first ever attempt at a computer-based audio recording . Click the “play” symbol and you’ll get to hear me reading from the opening of the book. On the days after publication I’ll follow it up with three shorter extracts, so keep coming back for more.

Chapter 1, Part 1:

Chapter 1, Part 2 (added 2nd Sept 2011):

Chapter 1, Part 3 (added 3rd Sept 2011):

Chapter 1, Part 4 (added 4th Sept 2011):

Congratulations if you’ve listened all the way through to the end of the fourth clip. I hope it encourages you to read on. It’s always good to support your local bookshop but if you’d prefer to buy the book online, of course that’s great.

Cover preview of Johnny Mackintosh: Battle for Earth

Posted in Battle for Earth, Book news with tags , , , , , on January 3, 2011 by keithmansfield

Here’s a sneak preview of what you have to look forward to later in 2011:

I’ve been lucky to have had three absolutely fabulous cover designs so far, each striking but different. They all have their strengths, but what this one does is tie the story to Earth in the here and now, which is always something I’ve been very keen on. When books are branded “science fiction” it can suggest “a long time ago in a galaxy faraway” and immediately exclude 95% of your potential audience. Of course I love the genre, but have always tried to write for a general readership.

I do like that bold, slanted text, which I’ve not seen on other books. Perhaps, as word of Johnny Mackintosh spreads, we’ll be able to re-cover all the books so they match and we can establish a series identity.

Happy New Year!

Johnny Mackintosh and Harry Potter down under

Posted in Harry Potter, reviews, star blaze with tags , , , , , on July 18, 2010 by keithmansfield

When you’re a writer you have a clear idea of your story in your own mind, but inevitably you wonder how much of that your readers will actually “get”. I’ve been so lucky with the Johnny Mackintosh: Star Blaze reviews so far, because everyone who’s looked at it seems to have picked out different elements that delighted me.

The latest is Danielle Mulholland, whose written a detailed and thoughtful piece for the Australian website Media-Culture Reviews. The way she summarizes the story at the beginning of her article shows how perfectly she’s grasped it, before going on to say:

“This is a well written book with wonderful descriptions, exciting new concepts for the young adult mind and set in a futuristic world where space travel and various gadgets are common place for Johnny Mackintosh, the protagonist and albeit unrecognised and unknown saviour of the world.”

Danielle stresses that anyone reading a book series should start with the first one, and of course that’s absolutely right. I worked very hard to make Star Blaze work as a standalone book and some reviewers have picked up on that, but it’s absolutely the case that someone’s enjoyment will be deeper if they follow the story from the beginning. A paragraph follows that:

“Having been compared to J K Rowling, Mansfield has certainly used her tried and true double life technique to justify his main character’s peculiarities. In his ‘normal’ life, Johnny has Mr Wilkins to give him grief like Harry Potter had the Dursleys making his life miserable. In his alternative life, Johnny confronts other enemies, similar to the Potter versus Voldemort saga.”

There are plenty who’d claim to be Jo Rowling’s biggest fan, but I’d put myself forward as a contender for the label, and may at least be her number one author fan. It was a great honour to be able to write the Sunday Telegraph’s Harry Potter quiz a couple of years back. Until I read the Potter books I’d only written for adults, but I fell in love with her story and knew I could be passionate about writing for a similar audience, in a way that wasn’t reflected so well in my more grown up scribblings.

I think to really love a book you’ve got to be able to empathize with its characters. That’s why I didn’t write Johnny Mackintosh as “A long time ago in a galaxy far away”. I’m delighted Danielle’s review has picked up on Johnny’s double life, and the problems he has at his children’s home, of course compounded by goings on at school. That’s because I want my younger readers to be able to put themselves in his shoes (or maybe trainers) so they can relate to half his life, while wishing the other half is something that may just happen to them. Personally, I never found myself longing to be a wizard, but as a child I always dreamt of being whisked off into space by aliens.

It goes without saying that any review of Johnny that also mentions the Harry Potter books is going number among my favourites. As a writer, the most impressive thing about Rowling is the architecture of her story, over all seven volumes. If you re-read her books (and I’m a great re-reader) you’ll be amazed at the clues planted in the first couple that point the reader all the way through to the end of the story, without giving too much away. It’s a balance I’ve tried to follow.

I’ve heard Rowling say her early drafts practically gave the whole story away and she had to rein in some of the narrative to keep us all guessing – I’m so glad she did. Another technique she used was to write everything from Harry’s point of view and that’s something I’ve followed for Johnny. There are plenty of times I’d like to describe what Clara’s doing when she goes off on her own, or what’s happening on the other side of the galaxy, but so far I’ve stuck rigidly to showing everything through Johnny’s eyes. The review ends by saying:

“Each chapter begins and ends rather dramatically. This technique keeps the young reader constantly engaged and eager to read more. It has all the ingredients sure to capture the young adult mind which is the target audience: betrayal, uncertainty, loyalty, courage, adventure and a thrilling ride into the unknown.”

It’s great to hear when Johnny Mackintosh has been well received outside of the UK. I hope Aussie readers will be pleased to discover that Johnny pays Sydney a visit in the third book in the series. It’s several years now since my own one and only trip down under, but I plan to race my young hero to see who’ll get there first.

Waterstones Camden recommends Johnny

Posted in Book news, Bookshops with tags , , on July 3, 2010 by keithmansfield

One of the lovely staff at Waterstones Camden has recommended Johnny Mackintosh and the Spirit of London. In case you can’t make out the photograph, the card reads:

“THIS BOOK MAKES ME FEEL like I want my own talking computer. Johnny’s computer Kovac detects an extraterrestrial life form and so begins Johnny’s adventure. Full of energy and great characters.”

Thanks to my friend Anna for sending me the picture.

Johnny Mackintosh: Star Blaze is published

Posted in Book news, star blaze with tags , , , , , , , on January 7, 2010 by keithmansfield

I hope this is the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The second Johnny Mackintosh book has arrived. I’m very proud of Johnny Mackintosh: Star Blaze and enormously grateful to everyone who’s helped make this day possible. The cover copy reads:

Alien invaders have exploded a nearby star, turning it into a supernova, and only Johnny Mackintosh knows the Sun is next in line. Abandoning school and his football team, he and sister Clara travel to the galactic capital seeking help. Their mission stalls. After a decade missing, Johnny’s mysterious brother reappears, but what was he doing all those years away and whose side is he on?

So begins an epic adventure full of devious aliens intent on ruling the galaxy and killing Johnny along the way. Can he survive to save his brother, and planet Earth, in time?

Keith Mansfield’s explosive space adventure will wow fans of action stories and Star Wars.

If you want more of a taster, you can check out this site’s excerpts section which includes the opening page. The book’s published and should be in all good bookshops (snow permitting). Bookstores are having a precarious existence at the moment (witnessed by the demise of Borders), so it would be great if you popped into your local local to pick up a copy. If they don’t have stock, demand to know why not and ask them to order it. But, if you can’t wait, here are some links to buy online.

Star Blaze cover

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