Monday, August 12, 2013

Author Interview + Giveaway: A Class Apart

Title: A Class Apart
Author: Stephen Henning
Published: October 11th 2011 by Elucidox Ltd

Teenage twins James and Samantha Blake are caught up in a seemingly random terrorist bombing while on a school trip. Many of their friends are killed. When the twins wake up in hospital, their lives have changed forever. 

The doctors are amazed at the speed with which James and Sam recover from their injuries and, when the twins begin to exhibit extraordinary powers, it is obvious that something incredible has happened.

As James and Sam attempt to overcome their fears and embrace their new abilities, a series of murders and disappearances start plaguing the hospital. The twins aren’t the only ones with special abilities and it becomes apparent that someone is coming for them. 

Will James and Sam be able to survive the nightmare into which they have been plunged? Who, or what, is behind the murders at the hospital? And was that terrorist incident quite so random after all?

                  Author Interview

1. Describe A Class Apart in one sentence and if you can give a tagline for it, what would it be?

OK. Teenage twins James and Samantha Blake are injured in a bomb explosion, wake up in hospital, discover they now have superpowers, but then realize something even more powerful is coming to get them!

A tagline for the Class Heroes series, hmmm, you’ve made me think now! It hadn’t occurred to me to do that before, thank you Rachel. Yes. I know what sums up the ethos of the series:

“Today could be the day that your life changes forever.”

2. What makes the Class Heroes series stand out from the rest of the other YA books out there?

I think the main characters and the general background of the seriesis more grounded in reality than other YA books.

I think what YA books do well is to create a heightened, fairy tale ideal of our world.  Love stories are powerful and all-consuming, main characters are driven by a sense of destiny, the fate of worlds is held in the hands of higher beings. I think that’s great because it fires the reader’s imagination.

However, I don’t think you can ever really imagine the main protagonist being ‘you’. At the end of the day, you still have to go to school (or work), you still have days where you can’t be bothered to do stuff, where your family annoys you, and where you want to have enough money to buy the latest phone.  You fancy one person one day, and someone completely different the next.  You don’t get many happy-ever-after love stories when you’re 16. Now, people want an escape from the everyday, so that is why YA books are so popular.

But there comes a time, after you have read a lot of those kind of books, where you want to explore different themes. When I read a book, I inevitably think, what if I was the main character? How would I handle that situation? I start relating the fictional world to my own, and if it is so very different, then I lose some empathy.

So I wanted to create some believable characters and give them a setup that we are all familiar with.  Growing up is a mixture of the exciting, the new, the scary, the mundane and fighting/loving your family.

James and Sam get thrust into some dangerous, fantastical and bizarre situations, but their sense of normality keeps the series grounded. I think it is easier to be frightened or elated by a character’s situation if you can believe that it *could* happen. James and Sam are very close siblings, they care deeply for each other, they’ve barely spent a day apart since they were born, and yet they can still royally annoy each other, and make each other laugh. I hope that their responses to the situations they find themselves in, give credibility to the storylines.

The other thing that makes the series unique, and adds to its sense of reality, is the accompanying website. The fictional news channel, 24/7 Interactive News, that appears in the books, also has its own website ( So you can read about, and watch video reports, on the ‘breaking news’ events that happen in the Class Heroes novels.

That was a long answer wasn’t it? Lucky you didn’t ask me to sum that up in one sentence.

3. How did you come up with the idea of having twins as the main protagonists for your novel?

It was a practical consideration really. I wanted the main characters to be a brother and a sister and I wanted them to be the same age so they would be in the same class at school. So twins it was.

I know that in literature, particularly YA fiction, there’s often a mystical connection attributed to twins. But in this case, their connection is based upon the fact that they know each other so well. I chose a brother and sister as the main protagonists because I think some of the best drama comes from family situations, and some of the best comedy comes from sibling relationships. Two good friends from when I was growing up were twins, and their relationship used to make me laugh so much. Still does.

4. What's the most heroic thing that you have ever done?

Well, I once rescued a damsel in distress from a burning building. Or at least, that’s how I like to remember it. When I was at university, one of my housemates (another Rachel, no less!) was cooking Sunday dinner and the oven caught fire. University accommodation wasn’t really known for good health & safety back in the 1990s. She started shouting out to me. I charged downstairs, got her outside (although I’m sure she could have managed without my assistance – but this is my story so I shall take liberties!) and called to my neighbours to ring the fire service.

The neighbours handily had a fire blanket, which they threw to me. I then ran back into the house and into the kitchen and managed to put out the wildly, dangerous, towering inferno that had almost consumed the kitchen. And all without the benefit of superpowers!

The fire service turned up and showed off to the girls, naturally, after I’d done all the hard work. But the amazing thing was that the beef joint that was in the oven was cooked perfectly, so we had beef sandwiches for tea. Indoor barbeque? Don’t mind if I do.

5. If you could have a celebrity twin brother, who would you want it to be and why?

Every time I read something about, or see an interview with, Hugh Jackman (aka Wolverine), I always think he comes across as a really great bloke. Numerous interviewers say he is the nicest man in Hollywood. And he is amazing as Wolverine. Incredible physique. I’m not sure my modest running regime and 10kg weights are going to transform me into that. But then, if I’m lucky enough to get superpowers, then maybe I won’t have to.

Thanks for interviewing me on the blog. I love reading the website and I’ve enjoyed swapping emails with you Rachel. Good luck with everything you are doing.

Find the Author

We're glad to have you on the blog, Stephen! :) And now, time for a giveaway! Enter the rafflecopter below to win an ebook of both A Class Apart and What Happened in Witches Wood

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  1. Ummm... meaningful? I like twins.:D I always wanted a twin.:D

  2. I like the twin thing and that they are not of the same gender.
    I really want to know that what extraordinary happened which gave them surreal abilities and powers.

  3. Thanks again for the feature Rachel. And thanks Jasmine and Sana for the comments. Twins are kind of cool aren't they. And they are a lot of fun to write. Siblings working together is very powerful, and siblings squabbling is very funny.

    All is revealed about how they got their powers in What Happened in Witches Wood.... Did you have a look at the videos?


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