Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Sleeper: The Red Storm by JD Fennell. The sequel to the successful dystopian action thriller Sleeper.
The Red Storm manages to crank up the action even higher, which I didn’t think was possible after Sleeper, but Fennell brings even more to the table this time.
J.D. was born in Belfast at the start if the Troubles, and began writing stories at a young age to help understand the madness unfolding around him.
A lover of reading, he devoured a diverse range of books – his early influences include Fleming, Tolkien, Shakespeare and the Brontës. He left Belfast at the age of nineteen and worked as a chef, bartender, waiter and later began a career in writing for the software industry.
These days he divides his time between Brighton and London, where he lives with his partner and their two dogs.
J.D.’s debut, Sleeper, was published by The Dome Press in April 2017.
About the book
Will starling has been drafted into the SOE, joining forces with the French Resistance, but his memory is fractured and only occasional flashbacks reveal fragments of his past. When his mission is compromised, Will suspects that he’s been betrayed. Back in London he hears that VIPER are developing a deadly weapon. As he and MI5 agent Anna Wilder set out to destroy it, their every move is anticipated by their enemies.
While Will fights to prevent genocide, his sister, Rose, has become the key to VIPER’s future plans and is drugged to dull her kinetic powers. But Rose faces danger from an unexpected enemy and her time is running out.
Q&A with JD Fennell
After the resounding success of Sleeper you are back with sequel, Sleeper – The Red Storm..
What was or is the inspiration for Sleeper? I wanted to write the kind of books I love to read. The Sleeper series are fast-paced spy thrillers with mysticism, the supernatural and sophisticated period technology on the fringes of reality. I wanted to be in that world, so I created one.
I would put this series in a multitude of genres, which is probably what makes it a read both younger and older readers find intriguing. It has elements of historical, war dystopian, sci-fi, spy thriller and industrial revolution steampunk meets futuristic weaponry genres. It is suitable for younger, young adult and older adults. An any age read, so to speak.
Was is it your intention to meld all of these different elements together or was it more of a this is where the plot is leading me kind of thing? Yes, it was. I wanted the characters to age as the story progresses. I did not want to remain in the same small timeframe. The first in the series, Sleeper, is a YA, which can be read by younger and older readers. In the sequel, The Red Storm, the characters are adults and well-established spies. Red Storm has an older voice and darker themes and as such has been marketed as an adult thriller.
Leading on from that was it also your intention to write a series that a person of any age can pick up and read, and parents would be happy to buy their book-hungry children? Yes I suppose it was. The third in the series will take place some years after the close of Red Storm. It will also be a darker book. That said I do intend to return to Rose’s story and write a short ebook about her. All that said, I would caution parents about choosing Red Storm for their children because of the dark themes and adult content, which will increase in the third book. They may want to read it first before passing it on. I know some parents have done this already.
As a parent of both book hungry and reluctant readers I know I have found it difficult at times to find a way to encourage my youngest son to read. He needed to build his reading, writing and comprehension skills, and yet the majority of books didn’t stir his interest. I had to search for the more unusual books to get him to read. I think Sleeper and The Red Storm fit into the bracket of letting younger readers experience the action packed creativity of a writer who doesn’t just want to tell them how the ugly duckling became a beautiful swan.
Do you think the book industry invests enough in books for younger readers that cross boundaries of imagination, creativity and outlandish theories? I don’t think I could comment on that because I don’t know enough about the children’s book market. However, I do know that middle-grade is a huge business and YA – in the UK – not so much. In the US, however, YA is massive.
I don’t want to give any of the many surprises, deaths and plot twists away, so I am going to try to keep the questions about the book as neutral as possible.
What made you pick this particular period in history? I loved the idea of a spy story set during the war without the war being the main focus. Also, I love the clothes, the cars and the lack of internet, social media and celebrity culture. What’s not to love about that?
Will seems to accept and forget the deaths of his comrades and friends very quickly. Is this part of his training or because of the trauma he has been through? Will spends his time on the run dodging bullets and fighting psychopaths and cold-blooded killers. His training has taught him resolve and his trauma has hardened it.
The concept for the actual Red Storm is akin to the biological weapons the world is threatened by in our era. Did you take inspiration for this from reality? Very much so. The threat of these type of weapons exist today and was close to my mind when I wrote it. I suppose this gives the books a modern twist.
What is the difference between the Will of Sleeper #1 and the Will of Sleeper #2: The Red Storm? The Will in book 1 is an amnesiac whose memory loss makes him question who he is. He believes himself to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old, however, deep inside him is a burning rage that he cannot explain. When he is in a life-threatening situation his first thought is to run. As the story progresses he learns more about his past and by the end of the book his rage has a focus.
The Will in Red Storm is the ‘Liberator’ and ‘Executioner’. (Readers of Sleeper will understand what this means). So, when it comes to VIPER he kills without remorse.
What’s next for Will and his band of merry people? (I have read the shocking ending of The Red Storm – there is no way you can just leave it there…). I’d say expect the unexpected. That’s all I’m saying.
Thank you for answering all of my questions. Thank you for hosting me.
The Red Storm is the sequel to the successful dystopian action thriller Sleeper. There is definitely a notable change in Will in this book. He appears to be more ruthless and less inclined to dither in the pool of emotions. People fall to the side, die and disappear, and yet Will glosses over each event, because his eye is on his goals.
There is a new dangerous threat in this book. At first Will thinks his enemies are talking in some kind of strange code when they reference a storm coming, until he encounters the Red Storm in person, then he realises just how big the threat is.
Meanwhile as Will is set on his own course and targets, the reader finds out what is happening to his sister. The story of Rose is disturbing, especially when it comes to the procedures she has to go through. She is so important to the enemy camp that they are willing to go to any length to get what they want, regardless of her young age.
I am not going to go into any more details, so you can discover this highly explosive and fast-paced read for yourselves. It is a read I would recommend to readers who are looking for an author who is able to combine a multitude of genres and create a new exciting read.
The action is cranked up even higher in this book, which I didn’t think was possible after Sleeper, but Fennell brings even more to the table this time. He also ends the book on one heck of a cliffhanger, which means we will probably…hopefully be reading more about Will in the future.
It’s a complex dystopian action thriller with the vibe of a war and spy novel. It ‘s non-stop action from start to finish – it’s one hell of a ride.
Publisher: The Dome Press, pub. date 25 Oct. 2018