Christopher Edge, author of Twelve Minutes to Midnight and Shadows of the Silver Screen talks to The Positive about heroines, Victorian spirit photographers and twisted tales of treason.
The Positive: Describe Shadows of the Silver Screen in just two sentences.
Christopher Edge: A spine-tingling thriller set at the dawn of the silent film era, Shadows of the Silver Screen is a story filled with secrets, ghosts and mysteries. When a film-maker arrives at the offices of The Penny Dreadful with a proposal to turn one of Montgomery Flinch’s stories into a film, Penelope Tredwell and her friends are drawn into an adventure that takes them from London’s Flicker Alley to a house on the edge of Dartmoor, and from busy fairgrounds to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
The Positive: Who inspired the character of Penelope Tredwell?
Christopher Edge:: As a reader, I enjoy stories with strong female characters like Lyra from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, so I wanted to try to create a heroine who could stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
The Positive: Is Penelope a young female Sherlock Holmes perhaps?
Christopher Edge: I love the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, so I think Penelope might have some of the great detective’s qualities with her bravery, quick wits and her eye for a mystery. However, I think Penelope is even more impressive than Sherlock Holmes as she has to overcome the expectations that society had of women at this time in history. Unlike Sherlock who rarely appears in challenges in any of Doyle’s stories, Penny’s impetuousness often plunges her into real peril and this makes her a much more interesting character to write.
The Positive: Who’s your favourite character in the Penny Tredwell books apart from Penelope? (The Positive loves the character of Monty!)
Christopher Edge: I love Monty. He’s such fun to write and, in many ways, I think he’s the character I’m closest to in real life. Wherever there is [issues] to be found, I’ll be right behind Monty in the queue for the [door]!
The Positive:Was it easy writing a sequel to the amazing Twelve Minutes to Midnight?
Christopher Edge: When I finished writing Twelve Minutes to Midnight, I knew there were more stories I wanted to tell about Penelope, Alfie and Monty and even stranger mysteries for them to solve. When I started researching for Shadows of the Silver Screen and was reading about the early years of film, I came across a report about Victorian spirit photographers who claimed to be able to photograph the individuals who have passed away. I’ve always loved ghost stories so I saw the chance to combine these two strands into a haunted house story with a twist.
The Positive: Where do you get your ideas for stories?
Christopher Edge:An idea for a story might start from an image or some random thought that then gradually gathers other ideas around it as it rolls around in my mind. After a while when my fingers start to itch, I know it’s time to start writing!
The Positive: What books did you love reading as a child?
Christopher Edge:My favourite children’s books included The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper, Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Thunder and Lightnings by Jan Mark to name just a few, as well as stories by writers such H.G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle which I found on the adult shelves.
The Positive:What’s your motto in life?
Christopher Edge: More by luck than judgement here I am!
The Positive:What are you working on at the moment?
Christopher Edge: I’m currently writing Penelope’s next adventure, The Black Crow Conspiracy, a dark tale of treason and twisted science set at the dawn of the Edwardian era.
The Positive: Will Penelope ever reveal that she’s the real Montgomery Flinch?!
Christopher Edge: You will just have to wait and see…..!
Christopher Edge aims to be at the British Library on Tuesday 5th March for World Book Week for readings and activities linked to the British Library’s current exhibition, ‘Murder in the Library’.
Twelve Minutes to Midnight has been shortlisted for the Phoenix Book Award in the London borough of Lambeth.