George Luke talks to best-selling author GP Taylor about his latest books ...
Click HERE to enter our competition – we have four copies of The First Escape (£7.99) to be won
“I WANTED to write a book that would not only entertain and thrill children, but also give them some ideas about God. This first book’s all about prayer and the fact that it does work.”
I’m in the waiting room of a Catholic school in Greenwich, having tea and cake with the author Graham (GP) Taylor. In a corner is the suitcase he’s been living out of all week as he tours London, talking to schoolkids.
On my way here, as I walked up the cobbled side road in this upmarket part of south London and saw the school building for the first time, I immediately thought of Isambard Dunstan’s School for Wayward Children – the setting of Graham’s new children’s book.
The First Escape is the first in a series titled The DoppleGanger Chronicles, featuring identical twins Sadie and Saskia Dopple. In it, the twins are separated when a reclusive author adopts one of them – a premise based on a real-life story Graham once heard.
“I found the story of an author who went into an orphanage where there were twin boys, adopted one twin and left the other behind,” Graham explains. “To me, that was a strange thing to do; why not take both? And that’s the premise of The DoppleGanger Chronicles: this tyrannical author goes in, adopts Saskia and takes her away. From there, the first book really becomes the adventure of Sadie to find her sister.”
The twins’ partner-in-crime (the ‘Ganger’ half of the DoppleGanger name) is young ex-thief Erik Morrissey Ganger … and yes, the character is based on the pop star he gets his middle name from.
“Is it a homage to my favourite singer?” Graham laughs. “It could be! The fact that he has black hair kind of gives it away – and you might notice that one of the chapters is called ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’!”
In addition to his children’s books, Graham has also just published his first book aimed at adults. Rosie, Note to Self is a modern-day take on the book of Ruth in the Bible. “It’s brought into a modern context, but still contains all the biblical promises,” Graham says. “It was written in such a way that it would touch the lives of people who wouldn’t normally read the Bible; the kind of book you’d take on holiday with you.”
Having now written for both audiences, Graham feels that grown-ups are easier to write for than children.
“With children,” he says, “you’ve got to really change the nuances of what you’re writing, and be very, very careful. With grown-ups, I follow the John Grisham approach to spirituality – which is that I’m not embarrassed about it and I don’t hide it. Thankfully, due to writers like Grisham, you can get away with it in grown-up stuff. But with children, you can’t.
"I’ve fallen foul of one major chain – whom I won’t name – but they now won’t stock my books because once the BBC called me ‘the new CS Lewis’, I became quite suspect. I actually received letters from booksellers in this chain, saying that one of my books was inflammatory against people who were pagans!
“It’s much easier to sell books with a Christian message in the USA, or in Africa or Malaysia, because people are more accepting and open to faith in those places. I sell more books in Spanish than I do in English, because Latin American people are far more accustomed to reading books with a faith message in them.
"We’re talking the emerging Pentecostal nations of Latin America – countries such as Brazil, where the raging fire of the Holy Spirit is just running through people’s hearts left, right and centre. That’s what we’re talking about – people who have a real thirst for Jesus!”
But it hasn’t all been bad news for Graham in the UK. The Morrisons supermarket chain is selling the DoppleGanger book, and it has been warmly received by parents and teachers alike, who say that its mixture of text and comic-style graphics has fired young readers’ imaginations.
These days, the former vicar writes full-time and only preaches when invited to. He dedicates a lot of time encouraging other Christians with a literary bent to share their gifts with the world.
“I’m very excited by that,” he enthuses. “We should be encouraging more people to write books. With the credit crisis, people don’t want to publish books because they’re not going to get sold; people aren’t buying as many books as they were. If people self-publish, then at least we’re swamping the market with books. The more Christians who self-publish books, the better.”
More at www.gptaylor.info
We have four copies of The First Escape, the first book in The Doppleganger Chronicles series, to be won. Published by Authentic at £7.99, the 278-page novel mixes high adventure, text and comic-style graphics.
To enter just e-mail us with the answer to this question:
What are the names of the book's identical twins?
Don't forget to include your name and UK postal address. Closing date for entries is Monday 4 January 2010 – the first four correct entries picked at random once all entries have been collected will win a copy each. The Editor's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. UK entrants only.
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