The Shadow of Atlantis is the first in the fabulous children’s historical time travel adventure series The Shadows of the Past.
Wendy Leighton-Porter is on virtual tour with Pump Up Your Book, and I’m very pleased to be hosting her today.
I reviewed Shadow of Atlantis way back in 2013, but you can see my review here. It’s quite different from today’s style! I invited Wendy to drop by for an interview. For fun, I used the same questions that I gave Max, the star of the books, when I interviewed him. (And you thought the stars were Jemima, Joe and Charles),
Say hello to Wendy Leighton Porter
Hi, Jemima. Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. I’m probably far less interesting than Max. He was very proud of the interview he did with you – it made him feel like a VIP!
Firstly then, where do you call home these days, and do you have more Tonkinese cats there?
After spending 7 years in Abu Dhabi because of my husband’s job, we returned to our home in South West France last autumn, looking forward to settling back into a quieter way of life. However, I’m temporarily residing in Cambridge (in the UK) at the moment! We still have our female Tonkinese cat, Max’s sister, who reached the grand old age of 20 in January.
Poor Max has some fairly difficult times when he goes travelling, especially the food. Do you have any favourite foods? What’s the worst thing you’ve ever been invited to eat (and did you?)
Yes, indeed, poor Max hasn’t enjoyed some of his eating experiences during his trips into the past and he constantly bewails the lack of proper cat food in historical times.
For me, I flatly refuse to eat snails… even though I live in France! Recently, our French neighbours invited us round to share a local delicacy – les os de canard (duck bones). I was dismayed to discover that duck bones really were the only thing on the menu – a big bowl of cold bones, with only a few minuscule shreds of meat clinging to them and dotted with blobs of congealed duck fat… ugh! I ate a few, made polite noises about how delicious they were, refused a second helping as I patted my stomach to show I was full, all the while mentally planning how to refuse further invitations to partake of this gastronomic delight without offending our kind hosts!
In contrast, another of our French friends makes the most delicious duck à l’orange I’ve ever tasted – I think I’d choose that as my last meal, if I could. I’m also very partial to cheese. Fortunately, my home is in France which has a different cheese for every day of the year. My favourite cheese, however, is a mature Swiss Gruyere which I got the taste for when I spent a year in Switzerland.
Now, I’m a little behind with the series. I haven’t read Witchfinder or the Great Fire yet, I did reread Shadow of Atlantis a week or two ago. I had forgotten the Prologue, where Jemima and Joe’s parents are pictured in a town disappearing into the mist. Did you know what town this was when you wrote it?
When I came up with the idea for the Shadows from the Past series, I decided right away to set the first book in Atlantis. With a background in teaching Classical Studies, I wanted my time-travelling quest to begin way back in the ancient world, and everyone has heard of the legendary lost city, so it seemed like the ideal place to start.
And which is your favourite location of those the twins, Charlie and Max have been to so far?
The Shadow of the Volcano – book 5. I used to teach Latin, and the school textbooks were set in Pompeii. It was a good excuse to organise visits there with my students! I will never tire of walking through those ancient streets, soaking up the atmosphere, and imagining life in the bustling town before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD.
A couple of more general things, then. What was the most exciting thing you’ve done in your life, and what was your most embarrassing moment?
Hmm, exciting experiences? Well, I’ve had several over the past few years: breakfast with Tom Cruise (yes, really!); lunch with world-renowned conservationist Dr Jane Goodall; riding a camel through the desert to watch the sun rise over the dunes; having a near-death experience in a helicopter during a storm – actually, that was terrifying rather than exciting.
As for embarrassing moments, I’ve had plenty of those too, but here’s just one: I recently bought a microwave oven for my long-stay hotel room but discovered the black store alarm thing was still attached to the box when I got back. My friend told me I could just cut the plastic cord attaching the alarm to the packaging, so later that evening I did just that. It wasn’t easy to cut, but when I finally hacked my way through it an ear-splitting siren started up and a red light began flashing.
In a panic, I ran out of my room with the device in my hand and knocked on my friend’s door. She doubled over with laughter at hearing the alarm and seeing my wild-eyed expression. As other guests opened their doors to see what was happening, I ran back to my room in horror, still clutching the offending item which continued to shriek. And it wouldn’t stop. I tried muffling it under pillows, even took it into the bathroom, but it sounded just as loud. The person in the room the other side came to investigate and looked on in amusement as I tried to silence the dratted thing. Fearing the imminent arrival of the police, or the fire brigade, or just a member of staff, I considered lobbing it out of the window, but remembered I was only on the first floor and the hotel reception was just below.
Mercifully, after what felt like an hour but was probably only about 5 minutes, the noise suddenly stopped, although the red light was still flashing the following morning when I took it back to the shop. I felt like a criminal, even though I’d paid for it and had the receipt!The Shadow of Atlantis Virtual Book Tour @WLP_Author #PUYB 'breakfast Tom Cruise; lunch Dr Jane Goodall; desert camel-ride at dusk; near-death helicopter experience' Interview with Wendy Leighton-Porter #MGLit #shadowsfromthepast Click To Tweet
If you were in a life-or-death situation, who would you most want to be with?
If I couldn’t have Max, my intrepid feline hero, who gets my time-travelling children out of endless scrapes, then it would be my husband, Simon… but please don’t tell him he was my second choice, after a cat!
And finally… if you weren’t you, who would you like to be?
Ha, I remember Max answering this question, saying he’d like to be Puss in Boots from the Shrek films! As for me, well, I’m actually pretty happy with who I am! The only thing I’d probably change is my name – I’ve never really liked being a Wendy and always have to explain to non-English speakers, who have trouble pronouncing it, that’s it like in the story of Peter Pan! Jemima – now, there’s a nice name! I even used it for one of the central characters in my book!
Thanks so much, Wendy, I really appreciate you visiting today, and I’m looking forward to the next in the series…. which I see is Shadow of the Slave Ship, to be followed by Shadow of the Shifting Sands! (and I thought ten was a long series).
When I first began writing my series I think I planned for it to have 16 titles in total. That number has now increased to 25, partly because it now includes several of Max’s solo mini-adventures which tie in with the rest of the stories. So, yes, I’m now working on book 18 – The Shadow of the Slave Ship – where Max will meet Dr Johnson’s famous cat, Hodge. This will be followed by The Shadow of the Shifting Sands, set in the Arabian desert.
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