About The Author
I began writing the first Class Heroes book on my laptop in February 2011, but these stories have probably been continually playing in my head since I was aged five or six, when I would act them out with toys and with my friends. I then branched out into using pencils, colouring pens and paper, moving on to writing pads and then my first computer.
So, as you’ve probably gathered, I have always enjoyed making up stories and the superhero genre has been one of my favourites.
The CV-type stuff is that I went to Sheffield Hallam University in the UK to study English. I then trained and briefly worked as a journalist in Salford. After that, I moved into publishing – which was great. An interesting and fun industry to be in and fascinating to see how books are put together and sold.
After that I started doing technical writing, which led me to start my own business with my friend and colleague Andrew Butters. My love of writing, generally, led me back to writing fiction. Our company, Elucidox Ltd, publishes the Class Heroes books.
If you’ve learned anything about me from this website, you’ll know I’m quite partial to superhero stuff, among other things. If you’re interested, I thought I would share some of my favourite books with you. Slightly eclectic taste, admittedly, but hey, that’s me.
First, a thank you to the work of the two artists who have provided artwork for Class Heroes.
Andrew Clarke who created the excellent cover for A Class Apart. I think it's a fantastic design and really in keeping with the feel of the book. You can see more of Andrew’s work on his own website.
Andrew Skilleter. Andrew produced the amazing artwork on the homepage of this website, which really brings Sam and James to life. I have been a fan of Andrew’s work since I was a kid and he used to create the covers for the Doctor Who books, somehow managing to give them that big-budget movie feel. Check out some of his other amazing artwork.
Superhero and book websites
Green Gates Entertainment: A company run by two incredibly energetic chaps called Joel Gates and Tim Green. They produce novels, graphic novels, screenplays, roleplaying supplements, commercials haunts and independently produced films. Not sure what they do in their spare time! Have a look.
Superhero Novels: This is a great site to find a list of superhero novels. As we know, there aren't that many novels of this genre available, so how handy to have a site that lists and reviews them. The site is edited by another super busy and creative guy called Eric Searleman.
Matthew Cornell has an interesting website. I found it because he'd written an article on superhero books, but his site covers a wide range of subjects. The general theme is finding ways to make yourself happy. Have a look and see what you think.
Here's a helpful webssite, if you aspire to be a writer. Superhero Nation contains some excellent articles that tell you pretty much everything you need to know, when trying to write your bestselling novel. The website owner, Brian McKenzie, even offers to provide feedback on your work-in-progress. A great resource.
Books for ages 12-15
As with most things in life, some books are better suited to younger readers, others for older readers. So I have tried to group the books based on what I would imagine is suitable. A lot of these books you probably know far better than I do, but if there’s something you haven’t seen before, why not try it?
Doctor Who books, both current and classic. You’ve probably seen the BBC books for the Eleventh Doctor. But there’s just been a reissue of some of the adventures of previous Doctors. Why not try Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion by Terrance Dicks? These books and this author were what made me want to be a writer in the first place and I can still enjoy them now.
The Day of the Triffids. John Wyndham’s timeless, classic, sci-fi tale; genuinely unnerving. The world has gone blind overnight. And if that wasn’t bad enough, genetically modified plants that have been harvested for their oil can now start harvesting defenceless humans. Corking book.
Amazing Spiderman. Ahhh. Good old Spidey. It would be ridiculous of me not to include a comic book in here. Spiderman has been around for years. There’s another film around the corner, so why not try some of the stories from a golden age of comic books? These are the Spidey books I used to read as a kid, and indeed have enjoyed re-reading since. Great fun. The king of all the super heroes? He’s having a tough time in The Death of Captain Stacey.
Moving into the graphic novel, as opposed to comic book (I’ll leave you to clarify those definitions), if you like Superman, try Superman: Red Son. This is a really clever book and one that tackles head on the difficult dramatic problem of how to make Superman more interesting. I don’t mean that as an insult to the Man of Steel, but it is a constant problem for writers. If Superman is all-powerful, where is the drama? Read this book and find out.
Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None is a brilliant example of brevity of writing. It is a complicated tale, told simply. The economy of words provides this book with a completely different atmosphere and style to virtually all the other Agatha Christie books. It's a refreshing change from the Marple and Poirot books (although they are also excellent in their own right). It's got one of the most surprising endings of any murder mystery. Can you guess whodunnit? I suspect not.
Books for ages 15 and over
Getting a bit more adult, when I was in my teens, there was a dearth of new authors who were out there publishing books for my age group. So I turned to some of the older classics. Such as James Bond. Some of those Fleming books can be pretty brutal and hard going, but Bond’s complicated and contradictory character makes for a fascinating read. The villains and the Bond girls are always memorable and Fleming virtually defined the action-hero drama. If you’ve seen Daniel Craig’s first Bond film, why not compare it with the novel Casino Royale?
Or, for a more recent series of action books, featuring an equally memorable character, try out Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. I’ve tried several different thriller books and often I’m left feeling disappointed. But there is something about the Reacher books that keeps enticing me back. I can’t go away on holiday without taking a Reacher book with me. Reacher feels like an even older-school hero than Bond. He has a chivalry and a set of values that wouldn't be out of place for a medieval knight. And he’s smart. And rock hard. Makes him an interesting character. Try the first book, Killing Floor. The character is about to take on a new life in the cinema, with the surprise choice of Tom Cruise filling Reacher’s big boots.
This one may stick out like a sore thumb, but one of my favourite books is Jilly Cooper’s Riders. I always found showjumping pretty boring, and I never thought I could enjoy the 1980s genre of bonkbuster novels, but for me this book combines brilliant, enjoyable, rompish storytelling with vivid, unforgettable characters. I’ve read it no end of times and I never cease to marvel at how the dialogue, the situations and the characters stand out from the page. Initially, I only read this because I wanted to read different types of blockbuster novels to see ‘how it was done’. And if you’re interested in writing books yourself, I’d say that was good advice. Try out lots of different genres and see what elements appeal to you.
Then there’s this rather dark, uncomfortable and yet totally believable tale about people living in a luxury development of flats in a fashionable part of London. It’s JG Ballard's High Rise. I just love the way the residents' sense of superiority, and the size of the block of flats, leads to the inhabitants’ desire to isolate themselves from the rest of society, which in turn leads them to disengage from the outside world. Horrible, compelling and a bit of an inspiration for the setting of A Class Apart.
One more. Batman: The Dark Knight. Quite adult. Utterly brilliant. Enough said.