Elias: Welcome, Gareth. Mr Snazzy also welcomes your beard.
Gareth: My beard is not worthy.
Elias: Your father was a wandering shepherd. How did sheep inspire you to write The Kinmaran Chronicles?
Gareth: My dad mostly rode around on a tractor, and he was too large to saddle up a sheep. I guess sheep inspired me in that Isomee Hogg-Bottom grew up on a farm, but instead of sheep, she and her uncle breed and train chostri, super intelligent, fast birds large enough to ride on an race. Kids love animals of course. Slugs, not so much, except in a comedy setting.
Elias: Apparently, you've been a teacher for twenty years. In that time, how many children have you scarred for life with your tales of farming?
Gareth: I do talk about my childhood a lot, actually. I’m very proud about having grown up in the country, even if I didn’t realise how great it was at the time. Life for children these days is very different from when I grew up, let alone where I grew up. I don’t think I’ve scarred anyone, but the deepest scars are always hidden any on the inside and often hidden by wit, sarcasm, or moustaches wouldn’t you say, Elias?
Elias: The Adventures of Brackenbelly are published frequently. How are you able to do this? Do you have a team of slugs doing your writing, or do you force your pupils to write them?
Gareth: I’m just very talented. No, honestly, the stories are quite short at only 12-15,000 words, but that’s all changing as of book 5, which will hopefully be out in April. I had always intended the books to be short and episodic, but, to be honest, that doesn’t seem to be working so, along with a few other reasons, I’m making the books longer.
Elias: If you do not force your pupils to write your books, may I force them to write my books? (Some of my slugs have been quite slack of late).
Gareth: You could try, but they are huge Brackenbelly fans and fiercely loyal to me.
Elias: Have you found being a shepherd teacher has either helped or motivated you in writing in the field of children's literature?
Gareth: I think it’s helped me to know what makes children tick, plus I think and act like a child. I obviously read a lot of children’s books as a part of my job and am shocked at how boring many of them are.
Elias: How do you pronounce Kinmaran and what is a Kinmaran? Is it perhaps a kind of poisonous cabbage?
Gareth: Kin-mar-run, or at least that’s how I say it. A Kinmaran is a person or thing that comes from the planet Kinmara. So The Kinmaran Chronicles are stories that come from Kinmara. Brackenbelly is an uma, one of two (that we know of) Kinmaran races, the other being human. I’m sure there are cabbages and slugs on Kinmara, and they would most definitely be poisonous.
Elias: Your books deal with racism. As quite a few members (Mary Josefina Cade and Mary Danino specifically) of Fun-tastic Children's Books are sluggists, do you have any advice to battle not only racism but also sluggism? (My cabbages are available).
Gareth: They do, and hopefully in a way that isn’t in your face, unlike your slugs and moustache. The only way to defeat racism, or sluggism, is through education and good role models. Can you provide that, Elias? My books aim to be entertaining but with strong moral values that hopefully the reader will pick up on, if only subconsciously.
Elias: Do any of your characters use cabbages as weapons? If not, why not?
Gareth: Not yet, but I could easily write it in. Part of what inspired The Kinmaran Chronicles was Chinese Wuxia (martial arts hero) stories. The characters in them often fight with everyday objects like umbrellas or even musical instruments. Maybe Isomee could use her Lak-Ti to fire cabbages at the enemy. In book 5 a new character, who is nominally Chinese, is introduced. I already had plans for a weapon, but a cabbage isn’t entirely out of the question.
Elias: Have you any plans to write an entirely different series of books based on my moustache, Mr Snazzy?
Gareth: Not about Mr Snazzy, no. But, I am writing the first in what will probably become a new series. It will keep many of the themes of The Kinmaran Chronicles, especially what it means to be a hero. It’s funny, Brackenbelly was inspired by Wuxia stories and myths and legends, and now I’m going back to my roots. My new project is retellings/imaginings of the great hero myths from Greece and Rome.
Elias: Don't you think it's time you shaved off your beard and walked away, head bowed, admitting defeat to the all-powerful and furry, Mr Snazzy?
Gareth: I did shave it off on the first day of the half-term holiday. While my beard isn’t as luxuriant as your magnificent ‘tache, it does help hide my double chin and flabby jowls. It’s slowly growing back.
Elias: Thank you, inferior beard-grower.
The Kinmaran Chronicles I.i - The Adventures of Brackenbelly: All in a Day's Work
A thought provoking and exciting fantasy adventure for 8-12 year olds. The Adventure Begins! Isomee Hogg-Bottom's life changed forever the day she met Brackenbelly. A traveller of incredible skill and intelligence. A warrior with a kind heart. An outsider who could communicate with animals. A stranger who would become her friend. When Brackenbelly arrives at Hogg-Bottom farm to buy a chostri to ride, he finds himself thrown into the middle of a dangerous mystery. Something is trying to eat the giant birds in the darkness of night. In exchange for a chostri, Brackenbelly agrees to capture the foul beast, but he soon finds it isn't the only monster that lives on Hogg-Bottom farm.
The Kinmaran Chronicles I.ii - The Adventures of Brackenbelly: Two's Company
An action-packed and thought provoking fantasy series for 8-12 year olds.
The Adventure continues!
Brackenbelly’s life changed forever the day he met Isomee Hogg-Bottom, he just didn’t know it yet.
Leaving Hogg-Bottom farm, and Isomee, far behind, Brackenbelly takes a short cut through a large forest. He soon discovers it’s riddled with mysterious dragon ducts and that there are many dangers lurking in the trees. To make matters worse, something is following him, but who, or what is it and what does it want?
It doesn't take long for Brackenbelly to realise it’s none other than Isomee Hogg-Bottom, who’s run away from home, but the danger’s only just beginning for them both. Isomee’s trapped down one of the dangerous dragon ducts and something equally dangerous wants to stop Brackenbelly from rescuing her.
Will Brackenbelly succeed? And even if he does, will the pair escape the other dangers of the forest unharmed?
In All in a Day’s Work, Isomee Hogg-Bottom's life changed forever the day she met Brackenbelly, but in Two’s Company, things REALLY change - for them both!
The Kinmaran Chronicles I.iii - The Adventures of Brackenbelly: Three's a Crowd?
A thought-provoking fantasy/adventure series for 8-12 year olds.
Finally emerging from the dangers of the dragon duct forest, Isomee is about to find out that her new Lak-Ti isn't just a Gift, but can also be a curse. Tired and hungry, Isomee and Brackenbelly try to get a lift from a passing farmer, but when he discovers Brackenbelly is an uma, he refuses. Despite his reaction, Brackenbelly charges to his rescue when he is attacked by a band of vicious L’Tar. Grateful for the help, Audley, the farmer, takes them to his home in Bently village. Will our heroes finally get a chance to rest or will the L’Tar return for revenge?
“Three’s a Crowd?” expands the world of Kinmara and introduces exciting new characters.
My moustache is great, my slugs are great, my cabbages are great and Elias Zapple is meh.