Ever since he was a teenager, Chris has loved unsettling and creepy stories. He has fond memories of buying comics like Strange Tales and House of Mystery, watching classic BBC TV adaptations of M.R. James’ ghost stories every Christmas and reading assorted weirdness by everyone from Edgar Allan Poe to Ray Bradbury. He hopes his books will haunt his readers in the way those writers have haunted him.
Top Five Time Travel Tales
Guest Post by Chris Priestley
Time travel has featured quite a bit in fiction – in books, in film and on television. Like a lot of people I grew up watching Doctor Who (and wondering why he didn’t just nip back to a couple of minutes before whatever bad happened and stop it) and I consumed a lot of sci-fi in my teens (because I’m so old, teen fiction was yet to appear). When I was trying to think of plot devices for my new Victorian-set boarding school series, Maudlin Towers, I knew early on that time travel would be a lot of fun to play around with
The Time Machine – H G Wells
I can’t remember which H G Wells story I read first. The War of the Worlds I think. I may have read The Time Machine after seeing the film. That was a very common way for me to encounter books as a teenager – to see a film on television and then hunt down the book on which it was based.
The story is framed like a ghost story, with the narrator – the inventor of the time machine – telling how he has used the device to hurtle forward in time to the year AD802,701 and to an age when there is a race of ineffectual people called the Eloi and a subterranean brutish people, the Morlocks. He even journeys millions of years further to see the death of the planet, able to return only hours after he left.
Tom’s Midnight Garden – Philippa Pearce
Children often ask me what my favourite colour, film, book, author or whatever is when I visit schools. I always tell them that as you get older you tend not to have one favourite – that it depends what mood you’re in. But if I had to pick a favourite children’s book, Tom’s Midnight Garden would probably be the one I’d go for. It is a beautifully written and incredibly clever and affecting story. It is a complex essay about the nature of time, memory and ageing.
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Scrooge gets to travel back and forwards in time. He doesn’t change the past but he is given to understand that he can change the future. The past is fixed but the future is in flux – which when you think about it is our actual state. If we are capable of learning from the past we can change the future. Dickens gives Scrooge the chance to understand himself more and by that understanding be a better version of himself.
A Sound of Thunder – Ray Bradbury
Time travel in fiction takes many forms but there is a very specific divide: time travel where actions taken in a journey into the past effect the future and therefore the time the traveller comes from – and journeys where actions taken are already part of the history of the traveller so that anything done in the past must always have been done.
A Sound of Thunder fits firmly into the first category. This ‘grandfather paradox’ as it’s called (what would happen if you travelled into the past and killed your grandfather – would you still exist) is brought to the fore when a group of time travelling big game hunters change the past and thereby change the time they return to.
Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
Good luck to anyone who has to write a blurb for Slaughterhouse-Five. It is a hugely complicated affair which leaps about from one time (and planet) to another as it tells the story of Billy Pilgrim who is a POW, an American GI captured by the Germans after the Battle of the Bulge and taken to Dresden. He is held in an old abattoir – Slaughterhouse-five – as the allies unleash a terrible bombing campaign. But of course that misses out Billy’s being captured by aliens and placed in a zoo and all the whizzing back and forth through time and space. It is a weird and wonderful book.
Mildew and Sponge don’t think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloomladen, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime!
But what starts out as a classic bit of detectivating quickly becomes weirder than they could have imagined. Who is the ghost in the attic? What’s their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf?
Hugely funny, deliciously creepy and action-packed by turns, this brand new series from Chris Priestley is perfect for 8+ readers who like their mysteries with a bit of bite. Fans of Lemony Snicket and Chris Riddell will love Curse of the Werewolf Boy.
Title: Curse of the Werewolf Boy
Author: Chris Priestley
Release Date: 5th October 2017
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36150286-maudlin-towers
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Curse-Werewolf-Boy-Maudlin-Towers/dp/1408873087