Out this week, Bone Quill continues the story begun in Hollow Earth, the first book for children written by Torchwood star John Barrowman and his sister Carole E. Barrowman.
Twins Matt and Em Calder are Animare – which means they can bring their drawings to life – and they will need all their powers to stop mysterious forces bent on releasing an army of beasts from Hollow Earth.
The twins travel in time to the Middle Ages to hunt the mysterious bone quill and protect it from those who seek to abuse its power. Can they, their family and friends, the Animare of previous eras and the faithful monks of Era Mina avert the threatened disaster?
CultBox caught up with John and Carole to find out more…
Were you pleased with the reaction to Hollow Earth?
CB: “We were and still are! We especially love hearing from teachers who are using Hollow Earth in their classes and enjoy it when their students then send us questions.”
JB: “And send their art. We love to see the pictures that children are inspired to draw after reading Hollow Earth.”
Bone Quill is the second of three planned books. Has the story turned out how you originally imagined when you first envisioned the trilogy? Did you find it easier writing the second book?
CB: “I think we know the main characters and their world much better now, and so when I take our notes and outline and come home and write, I’m more willing to let the characters go off into uncharted territory if they decided they need to.”
JB: “Oh, I love those moments, especially because for some reason they always happen in the middle of the night and then she wakes me up because she’s forgotten the time difference! The last one was about something Simon was about to do…”
CB: “Quiet! No spoilers. Let’s just say that we’ve gotten pretty attached to these characters and in Bone Quill one of them does something we didn’t really plan when we originally plotted the key events for the trilogy. As a result, I think the next book will be different from our original outline.”
Could the series run beyond three books?
CB: “It could.”
JB: “I feel like we’re just getting started exploring the twin’s adventures in the world of Animare and Guardians.”
Does the series follow the Harry Potter model of getting progressively darker?
JB: “Our intention wasn’t to follow Rowling’s model (although we’re flattered by the comparison), but you’re right Bone Quill did end up darker than Hollow Earth. There are some lighter moments though–like the jester, the monks and the puffin poop.”
CB: “From the beginning, it was important to follow Matt and Em’s emotional development as much as their supernatural developments and since one of the critical conflicts of this book hinges on a terrible choice a character makes, having that kind of arc turned things darker.”
JB: “Who’s dropping spoilers now… We also like to read books where the heroes have to get themselves out of dark places.”
CB: “I’m also a fan of the original Grimm’s fairy tales so their tone may have slipped into our story.”
Did you enjoy the historical research on the Middle Ages?
CB: “I love that part of the process.”
JB: “Carole loves that part of the process.”
Any news on a possible film/TV adaptation of the book series?
CB: “This is John’s territory.”
JB: “These things don’t move quickly, but it’s moving forward. We’re working on some of the pre-production decisions that need to be worked out, including finding the right people to be part of the project’s creative team as directors, writers etc.”
Who would be your dream casting for Matt and Em?
CB: “We really haven’t talked much about the specifics of casting. That said I think Maisie Williams would be a terrific Em. She’s good on Game of Thrones.”
JB: “One of the girls playing Matilda on the West End would be great too. As for Matt… there are a lot of great young actors in the UK right now.”
CB: “Oh, but John’s playing Simon. He’ll be a perfect dad.”
There has been lots of demand from Torchwood fans for there to be an adaptation of Exodus Code. Is this something you’d be up for as a movie, TV series, webisodes or comic?
JB: “We’d be up for all of those things, especially a movie or another series.”
John, you’ve said that there are currently no plans for Captain Jack to appear in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. Aside from Jack, who else would you personally as a fan like to see in the special?
JB: “Davros, Donna, and my Doctor [David Tennant]. I love the whole Doctor Who universe. I’m excited for all the celebrations.”
Do you miss the UK while working on Arrow? Are there any UK cult shows you’d like to appear on?
JB: “Of course I miss the UK, but working on Arrow does mean I get to spend a bit more time with my mum and dad in California. I’d dress up for Downton if I were asked.”
What else have you both got coming up?
CB: “We’ll be in the UK at the end of February early March for our book tour with Bone Quill. During that time we’ll flesh out the final parts of the next book. Then we have the paperback release of Exodus Code in the summer and the US release of Bone Quill around that same time. We hope to tour in the US with Bone Quill too.”
JB: “We’re working together on a series for television from a story Carole wrote a while ago with a character I’ve always thought would be brilliant to play. He’s a very damaged detective haunted by a kind of Sophie’s Choice that he’s made while solving a case. The character would be a departure from anything I’ve played before.”
Have a brilliant 2013 and we’re looking forward to Book 3!
JB: “We hope yours is dazzling too.”