Today we're excited to chat with Chris Bradford, author of Bodyguard: Ransom (Book 4). Read on for more about Chris and his books, plus a giveaway!
• After the success of your Young Samurai books, you’ve brought us the modern story of Connor Reeves. Which do you prefer writing-- historical or modern fiction?
Both have their appeal. Historical fiction has a depth and richness that draws a reader in, while modern fiction has an immediacy and potency that can hit harder. The real thrill of writing the Bodyguard series is the chance to create plots based on present day issues that now affect us all, such as terrorism, piracy and the cult of the celebrity. Through my hero Connor Reeves, readers are able to understand the issues and hopefully learn how to look after themselves in today’s dangerous world.
• How many books will be in the Bodyguard series? Any reason they are packaged differently for the US market?
U.S. readers will be treated to 12 books in total—Ambush and Survival coming next! The first four are being released simultaneously to generate a “binge reading” phenomenon a la Netflix, with each “episode” (book) ending on a cliffhanger to increase suspense and encourage further reading. Also, U.S. readers get the definitive Bodyguard story since their editions have extra chapters!
• There seem to be so many more spy-type thrillers for teens written in the UK than in the US. Horowitz, Muchamore, Gilman and McNab all have produced great series similar to your Bodyguard books. Why is this such a popular subject for books across the pond?
It’s the James Bond effect! But what makes the Bodyguard series stand out from Alex Rider and Cherub is its unique angle on close protection. Young spies are cool, but young bodyguards are more real and relevant. The close protection skills that Connor and the other recruits learn are practical skills that the reader could apply in real life.
• You put a lot of effort into researching your books, knowing martial arts for the Young Samurai series and becoming a licensed bodyguard for your new Bodyguard series. Do you do this mainly to help with your writing, or more for your own personal enjoyment?
Both! The practical training make the research great fun. I’ve acquired skills in unarmed combat, defensive driving, tactical firearms, threat assessments, surveillance, and even anti-ambush exercises! But my “method-writing” technique primarily helps with the storywriting as I gain great ideas to include in the books, such as Cooper’s Color Code and the “one-inch-push.” Then when I visit schools, I demonstrate to the students these techniques and bring the Bodyguard books to life!
• You have a lot of travel in the Bodyguard series. Have you visited all of the places you describe? What were some of the most interesting places you researched?
For #1 Recruit and #2 Hostage, I visited Washington, DC and the White House itself—even getting a tour inside the White House for my research (no longer allowed due to heightened security levels). This gave me a true insider’s look at the President’s home and its unique security features. I didn’t visit Somalia for #3 Hijack and #4 Ransom as it wasn’t safe at the time to travel there. However, I did travel and work in a number of countries in Africa to prepare for #5 Ambush and #6 Survival—I even did survival training in the bush, eating live termites and battling scorpions and snakes, just as Connor does!
• There are lots of chases and fighting in your books. How do you write convincingly about these things without blowing up things?
First, it’s all about getting the reader to invest in the characters. If the reader feels for and believes in Connor, then the action scenes have true emotional impact. It’s not just a bunch of fists flying or guns blazing, there is actually someone to fight for. Secondly, I choreograph any fight scenes in my writing office to ensure they are authentic and would actually work in real life. So, if a character throws a roundhouse punch, I’ll work out the block to that and the counter- attack for Connor. If you were to be looking in through my window when I’m writing, you’d see me fighting myself!
• You do a lot of fun promotional events, like a Young Samurai martial arts exhibit at Disneyland. What are some of your favorite events?
The Bodyguard shows are a blast—students join me on a mission to become young bodyguards! They participate in an interactive reading to protect the President's daughter; are introduced to Cooper’s Color Code and how to stay alert to dangers; learn anti-surveillance skills and how to spot if they're being followed; discover how to protect a VIP in a crowd; and learn about the bodyguard's secret defense techniques! The best bit is often when I have to save the school librarian from an attack. . . .
• Your Bulletcatcher series looks very exciting. Any chance that it might be published in the US?
Bulletcatcher is “Bodyguard meets X-Men.” In other words, young bodyguards with super- powers, or talents as they are called within the story. This is a very exciting series that I hope will soon be published in the U.S., especially as they feature a diverse set of characters, including those with disabilities—just like the Bodyguard series.
• You’ve written some books that are dyslexia friendly for UK publisher Barrington Stoke. What makes these books dyslexia friendly? What motivated you to work on projects like these?
I wish to be fully inclusive with my books and getting young people motivated to read is one of my life’s missions. The books themselves are printed on cream-colored paper and in a font that is easier for dyslexic readers to absorb. There will also be a few tweaks to the language to make the sentences flow better for a dyslexic reader, e.g. rather than writing “She went through the window,” this might be changed to “She went in the window”—“in” being easier than “through” to compute in a dyslexic brain. The stories themselves, however, are no different—they are full of action and suspense and cool characters just like my other thrillers.
• What sort of books did you read when you were a young teenager? Anything you might recommend to today’s children that they might like?
I’m currently reading the Lockwood & Co series by Jonathan Stroud—a spooky series about ghost hunters. Highly recommended, but only for those with nerves of steel! As a young teenager, I loved the Fighting Fantasy series by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone—the ones where you were the hero. Perhaps that’s why I became an author!
Meet Chris Bradford!
Chris Bradford’s best-selling books are published in over twenty languages and have garnered more than thirty children’s book award nominations internationally. In the U.K., the first Bodyguard book debuted at No. 8 in the official Children’s Fiction Chart and was awarded the Brilliant Book Award 2014 and the Hampshire Book Award 2014, joining previous winners Suzanne Collins, Anthony Horowitz, Derek Landy, and Rick Riordan. Chris Bradford has appeared before more than 100,000 school children in more than 500 schools, 16 book festivals, and 12 countries. Learn more about him at chrisbradford.co.uk.
Bodyguard: Ransom (Book 4)
By: Chris Bradford
Release Date: May 9, 2017
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