31 Oct 2013

Paul Cude: “Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat from the Past”

1 Comment Book Reviews

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“Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past” by Paul Cude is using a highly original idea and makes it the centre of a very entertaining adventure story for young adults and those young at hearts. In times of “Eragon” and “The Hobbit” many of us older adults love a good dragon story just as well as the younger ones and I am sure most people who pick up this book will appreciate Cude’s excellent effort in that regard.

Most of the story however is surprisingly set in present day and not in the distant past. The dragons are not enemies of us humans but are actually here to protect us, a tradition that goes a long way back into their past. Using this inventive set up Cude tells us with much love for detail about the world and communities of dragons, their habitat, tunnels under the sea and much more which I found very enjoyable. 
Myths and legends in the dragon world their good and bad members, their habits, their sports and their views on the human world add flesh to the action part of the story. 

Cude has taken the simple idea and given it a lot of thought and imaginative detail, it is obvious what a labour of love writing this book must have been and it certainly has paid off.
Highly recommended, a great and fun-filled read.

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Interview with the author:

How did the idea for the novel come to you?

In the story that I’d dreamt, the main character, when in his dragon form, had a marking on his scales that looked just like a bent whistle. This is where he derived his name from, and I think I was desperate to include this somewhere in the title. As for the ‘threat from the past’……it just seemed so obvious, given how it starts and ends. Those were two parts of the story I knew in my head in graphic detail, long before I’d completed the book. Originally I’d intended just to write the story for my kids……for when they were a little older. But the more I wrote, the more seemed to spring forth from inside me, far exceeding the length I thought the book would be. About halfway through writing that one, I started dreaming about what would happen in the next book and beyond. The whole thing seems almost to have a life and will of its own.

How did you come to writing in the first place?

Oddly it just happened. Sounds a bit crazy really, but one night, when my elder daughter was just a baby (she’s not far off 11 now), I had the single most realistic dream I’ve ever had. I didn’t remember it until the following day, but when I did, I swear it was just like watching a movie in my head…..so graphic, so intense, so…..mesmerising. Anyhow, I told my wife, who was gobsmacked to say the least. And so was what she said to me, “You have to write it, you just have to.” Initially I just laughed off her idea, bearing in mind that at the time I could only type with two fingers. But over a period of I suppose months, I kept getting more dreams, flashbacks into the story…….sometimes little details, sometimes insights into the characters, sometimes twists and turns to do with the plot. In the end I suppose it was inevitable that I would write it. First I taught myself to type properly…..3 months, and then, well………..I began. At first I needed complete silence to be able to write, something there wasn’t a lot of bearing in mind I was taking care of one young child, with another on the way. But over time I’ve learned to filter it all out and can now write with the kids playing around me if I need to, but I still think I do work more efficiently in total silence. It has taken a long time, and I was surprised how hard and crucial the editing  process was. But in the end it was most definitely worth it.

Who is your favourite character and why?

Difficult question to answer as I love them all for different reasons. The main character, Peter Bentwhistle, is loosely based around me so I suppose I should really say him. But whenever I’m working on the next book, or one of my children asks me a question about any of the characters, each stirs a different memory and emotion in me. Some are based around people I know, and my thoughts turn to them. The lacrosse playing dragon called Richie Rump is based on one of my best friends who was captain of the England lacrosse team and is also a fantastic hockey player. The dragon shopkeeper who sells the best mantras in the world shares the same name with one of my best friends. An important human businessman who is duped, is also named for one of my best friends. Other more minor references feature other friends and acquaintances. When looking for some of the character names I used references from everything around me at the time, while sitting working at my desk. There’s a dragon called Axus….his name was gained from my Canon camera at the time, with just a tiny amendment. Also one of the bad characters is a combination of one of my favourite author’s first names and surnames combined. I now have a long list of dragon names tucked away in my computer somewhere, that I can use whenever I need. I think as it’s my first book, everything, and in particular every character, will always mean a lot to me. So sorry, it’s a bit of a cop out, but they’re all my favourite characters.

Were the plot and sub-plots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?

The plot was most definitely planned from the start. I had it all worked out in my head, and the second from last chapter ‘Fawking Hell!!!’ with a huge amount of action in it, I’d known before I’d typed the very first word of the book.

As for the sub-plots, I found my imagination would go off at a tangent while writing. There are a few ‘rants’…..well, that’s what I call them anyway, from the main character, Peter Bentwhistle, who is based loosely on me, which I suppose just flowed out of me while I was caught up in the writing process. I kept them in the story because I thought if they were my opinions, then they should be his as well. They are mainly views on life and morality, hopefully wrapped with a little humour.

Could this become part of a series?

Well, I’ve just finished writing my follow up book….’Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation’, and before any editing it’s just over 215, 000 words long, considerably longer than the previous one. It picks up pretty much from where the first book left off. Only in this one, things get much……..chillier. Quite literally. There’s another tale from the nursery ring (where dragons grow up), related to something that happens much further on in the book. Old and new characters alike feature in what I think is an adventure even more action packed throughout. We come across the mysterious nagas, for good or bad, and we learn a little bit more about the background and living conditions of the king, as well as discovering that he’s far from past his sell by date. There’s much more dragon and human team sport. Tank, one of Peter’s friends, even gets to play a whole detailed game of rugby, in a much similar vein to Peter’s hockey match in the first book. Plus more death defying laminium ball matches, this time in the league, rather than the global cup, with the Indigo Warriors perhaps biting off a little bit more than they can chew. Some of the action here is truly EXPLOSIVE! (A clue, methinks…) The characters, new and old alike, reveal a little bit more about themselves, with something for everyone. The new places visited include Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Egypt, USA, and of course the underground world of the dragon domain. My warped sense of humour still features in places of course. Watch out especially for two of the King’s Guards in the early part of the book, that are particularly good value on that front. Other than that, there’s not much more I can tell you without giving away some of the plot, which of course I’m reluctant to do.

What do you do when you don’t write?

When I’m not writing I like to either spend time with my wife and children, or play hockey. A day at the beach down in Swanage or Hengistbury Head followed by a meal out on the way back sounds perfect. If not that, a family bike ride somewhere or a walk in the New Forest. I do love a game of hockey with my friends at Salisbury hockey club, but as I get older it’s much harder to do on a regular basis. I help coach my kids and other children every Sunday morning though, and still try to get to men’s training weekly. Playing squash weekly with an old friend helps me get through the week. (He’s mentioned in the book.)

Which are your favourite books and authors?

When in my late teens, I mistakenly ordered a Tom Clancy book…..Debt of Honour. I was too lazy to return it, so it sat on my bedside table for weeks. Until one evening, when I picked it up and started to read it. Many hours later I put it down, only because I needed a few hours sleep before I went to work. I was hooked. After finishing that, I went out and bought all the other Tom Clancy books I could find. It was also about that time that the Star Wars expanded universe books started to appear. I caught sight of the first one while working in a book shop in my role of service engineer. I can remember it clearly: Star Wars Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. It had a striking blue cover with some of the Star Wars characters on it, and I had to buy it there and then, in the middle of doing my job, much to the amusement of the owner of the bookshop. My love of the expanded universe has continued ever since, and as soon as the next book comes out…………..I have to have it.

It seems my love of books goes in phases. If I have nothing to read, I wander around a bookshop until I find something I like the look of and then read it. If I get hooked, I go back and find other books by that author. Examples of this for me are Terry Goodkind and Christopher Paolini…………I love all of their books. The detail, the plot……the characters….are just all amazing. I can only dream of writing as well as they do. Other authors I’ve found and loved this way include Robin Hobb, J.V. Jones, David Gemmell and Trudi Canavan, to name but a few. I love the way they use their imaginations and the worlds that they create on the pages of the book. They’re all very easy to visualize.

My favorite author of all though, is the wonderful Terry Pratchett. If you haven’t read one of his books you really should. While I love pretty much all the books he’s written, the ones about the guards of Ankh-Morpork, Captain Carrot, Sam Vimes, Corporal Nobbs, Angua and of course the Lord Vetinari, are easily my favourites. The characters themselves are described in magnificent detail, all with their own funny little ways. The plots twist and turn like a raging river, and the humour……….well, let’s just say that is exactly on my wavelength. I’ve cried with laughter on many occasions reading some of Terry Pratchett’s books, and I can’t recall doing that for any other author I’ve read. If you’re a reading fan, you really must try one of his books.

What would you take to an isolated island?

My wife and children, a hockey stick for the kids and I, and of course a hockey ball. If permitted, just as many books as possible. My whole family love reading, so with a huge supply of books we’d never be bored.

What else would you like us to know about yourself and your books?

Currently my book can be found for free at Smashwords, in all formats, or can be purchased in either paperback or kindle version from Amazon

The Goodreads page for my book can be found here

My facebook page can be found here

I can be found on twitter @paul_cude

I have my own website to support the book www.bentwhistlethedragon.co.uk as wells as a blog www.thesoberhockeyplayer.co.uk that provides an insight into me and also offers author interviews.

 

 

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written by
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.
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