A Moment In Time
by Martin Dukes
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Alex Trueman has just turned fifteen. He's a typical teenager, a bit spotty, a bit nerdy and he's not exactly popular at school, not being one of the 'cool' kids. His tendency to day-dream doesn't exactly help him to be cool. either! But being cool isn't as good as the talent Alex discovers he has - stopping time.
Yes that's right. Stopping time!
Well, for everyone except Alex, that is, who finds that whilst everyone else is caught in a moment in time, he is able to carry on as normal. Maybe not quite 'normal', after all, he's able to stop time, and whilst that's not exactly as good as a certain 'boy wizard', it's pretty close!
The only trouble is that reality for Alex isn't always what is seems, and being plunged into an alternative can be a bit tricky, not to mention the fact that he makes an enemy almost as soon as he arrives, which tends to cause a problem.
Will Alex Trueman, nerdy daydreamer, be able to return to reality or will he be stuck forever in his alternative? Is a moment in time enough for Alex to discover the superhero he needs is probably himself?
A Moment in Time is the debut novel of author Martin Dukes, and is the first in a series of Alex Trueman Chronicles, which take the reader, along with Alex, into a bedazzling world of time travel, alternative reality and flying sea creatures. His further adventures include the past, possibly the future and definitely a fight to save reality itself.
Alex returned home to find a most unwelcome development, which had arrived through the letterbox in the superficially innocent form of a brown envelope. It might as well have been a letter bomb for its explosive impact on Alex’s day. It contained his school report. His mother’s set jaw and the glint of steel in her eyes when Alex walked into the kitchen signalled danger ahead. Alarm bells were dinning away insistently by the time the brown envelope was brandished in his face.
“This,” she said, tapping him on the head with it for emphasis, “Is your report.” She paused to let Alex dwell on this prospect. “It does not make good reading. Let me see,” she pondered as she snatched up her glasses and whipped the report out to read. “Mathematics… 3C... English… 2C… Design Technology, get this… 4D.” She read through the whole list in a voice trembling with outrage. “And here’s the grand finale,” she said, shaking the page. “The considered opinion of your form teacher. Do you want to hear what Mr Burbage has to say about you?”
Alex had absolutely no desire to hear this now, or indeed ever, but he recognised there was no point in saying so. A display of submissive behaviour seemed in order. He hung his head. “Alex is undoubtedly an intelligent pupil with a bright future, should he choose to exert himself,” she read. “Get that? Should he choose to exert himself.”
Her face came worryingly close to Alex’s as she stressed this last part. He was conscious of a little drop of her saliva on his chin, at first warm, now suddenly cold.
A Word With the Author
1.Did you always want to be an author?
I’ve wanted to be an author as long as I can remember. Given that I’m sixty-two, that’s quite a long time. Since, ‘A Moment in Time’ is my first work to be published through the traditional publishing route I can hardly claim to be a precocious success! I have always loved books and the possibilities of the English language for creating worlds that others might wish to explore. As a child, I remember that I had an extensive bookshelf, for an eight-year old, and set myself up as librarian. I made little lending cards for the inside of the front covers and loaned them out to my young friends and relatives. They faced my wrath if they didn’t return them by the set date, or brought them back dog-eared or food stained! My first attempts at writing involved hand-made folded paper booklets, telling stories involving my teddy bears, but my earliest formal attempt resulted in an epic work entitled ‘The Adventures of George and his friends’, penned when I was twelve. This was in a lined, hard backed notebook, written in my best handwriting and illustrated throughout in felt-tipped pen. I still own (and treasure) this book. Throughout my teens, and beyond, I continued to write, although none of my attempts resulted in a completed document.
2.Tell us about the publication of your first book.
In the next thirty years I continued to write and began to approach literary agents with a view to publication. I have a large collection of rejection slips to show for this, which resulted in various lapses in perseverance, brought on by sheer frustration. I always returned to it, eventually, however, and I like to think that my skills developed through practice, experience and continuing to read widely over the years. My breakthrough came a few years after a moderately successful attempt at self-publishing, which eventually languished due to my inability to commit sufficiently to marketing and publicity. As a full-time teacher and head of department I simply didn’t have the time to devote to it. Then, as retirement approached, I came across the wonderful Jane Murray of Provoco Publishing, on Twitter, who invited me to send her a manuscript and evidently liked what she saw. My first book, ‘Alex Trueman in A Moment in Time’, describes the adventures of a fifteen-year old, who finds he has the ability to stop time, with all the delightful possibilities such an ability might offer. At first, he finds that he can start and stop time at will, but soon he finds that he cannot re-start it. He is trapped in a moment, with the whole world apparently frozen into immobility around him. The book records his adventures in this frozen world of ‘Intersticia’ and his relationships with the few fellow prisoners in this place, as they plot their eventual escape. This is the first book in a whole series of the ‘Alex Trueman Chronicles’ that should see publication over the next few years.
3.Besides yourself, who is your favorite author in the genre you write in?
I am a big fan of Philip Pullman. His ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy is amongst the finest books I have read in any genre, and I frequently re-visit them. His world building is superb, creating a highly detailed universe with some most original and fascinating concepts. He is a hugely compelling storyteller, a master of language who creates a whole range of memorable and highly relatable characters. There is a wonderful sense of ‘legend’ in his work, where the familiar physical universe has its interface with a world where the ordinary rules of existence do not apply. You know you have read a good book when you continue to re-visit its world in your own mind.
4.What's the best part of being an author? The worst?
The best part of being an author is sitting with your fingers at the keyboard and feeling the story flow out of you, as though it has a life of its own. In these moments it feels as though my body is no more than a channel between two worlds: the real world, and the world that exists within my mind. I have a real sense that the story writes itself. That is not to say that each book doesn’t require a great deal of groundwork and preparation in conceptual terms. However, once the conceptual framework is in place and I know what happens next, the rest is a real pleasure to set down.
The worst part of being an author is editing, as many an author will tell you, I should think! When every sentence must be minutely scrutinized for errors all the pleasure of reading is squeezed out of it. I find it very hard to sustain concentration when doing this, and it is so easy to slip back into reading for reading’s sake, seduced by the story. Then you think to yourself, ‘Oops! When did I actually lose focus?’ and you have to work your way back up through the pages and paragraphs again to see where you last deleted a rogue comma, for example. I have taken to starting from the end of the manuscript and working my upward, paragraph by slow paragraph. At least this way you don’t find yourself slipping back into the story once more. Still, editing is a pain. A necessary pain but a pain nevertheless!
5.What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished writing a fantasy novel, set in an imaginary world called Toxandria; one that I conceived of back in my twenties. My wife and my son are presently reading this, and giving me the opportunity to correct anything too ludicrous or objectionable before I present it to Jane Murray, my publisher, to see if she agrees that it has any merit. I’m very pleased with it, and it has given me great satisfaction to bring it to a conclusion during the last few weeks. Some details of this world are on my website (www.mdukes-wildestdreams.com) It contains four realms, each with a distinct character and so I may eventually write four books, one set in each realm. My next major project will be to write another Alex Trueman book. A number of these are in various stages of publication, but I am aware that I need to bring the series to completion and now have to give some thought to creating a new adventure for my boy hero and his friends.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I’ve always been a writer. It’s not a choice. It’s a compulsion, and I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. Lots of childish scribbles in notebooks, lots of rejection slips from publishers and agents testify to a craft long in the making. In addition, it has proved necessary to earn a living by other means whilst those vital skills mature. For thirty-eight years I taught Art and Graphic Design, thirty-seven of them in a wonderful independent girls’ school in Birmingham, UK. For much of the latter part of this career I was Head of Department, which gave me the opportunity to place my own stamp on Art education there, sharing with the pupils there my own love of Art and the History of Art. Over a decade I was able to lead annual visits to Florence, Venice and Rome (some of my favourite places on the planet) as destinations on my Renaissance Tour. These visits created memories that I shall cherish for the rest of my life.
I love history in general, reading history as much as I read fiction. I have a particular interest in the ancient world but I am also fascinated with medieval times and with European history in general. This interest informs my own writing to the extent that human relationships and motivations are a constant throughout the millennia, and there is scarcely a story that could be conceived of that has not already played itself out in some historical context. There is much to learn from observing and understanding such things, much that can be usefully applied to my own work.
Teaching tends to be a rather time-consuming activity. Since retiring, I have been able to devote much more of my time to writing, and being taken on by the brilliant Jane Murray of Provoco Publishing has meant that I am finally able to bring my work to the reading public’s attention. I like to think that my ideas are original and that they do not readily fall into existing tropes and categories.
I am not a particularly physical being. I was always terrible at sport and have rather poor physical coordination (as though my body were organised by a committee rather than a single guiding intelligence!). I tend to treat my body as a conveyance for my head, which is where I really dwell. My writing typically derives from dreams. There is a sweet spot between sleeping and waking which is where my ideas originate. I always develop my stories there. When I am writing it feels as though the content of my dreams becomes real through the agency of my fingers on the keyboard. I love the English language, the rich majesty of its vocabulary and its rhythmic possibilities. My arrival at this stage could hardly be describes as precocious. However, at the age of sixty-two, I feel that I have arrived at a place where I can create work of value that others may appreciate and enjoy.
Twitter - @MartinDukes5
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