Could there be anything more evil than a fatuous self-help book? The answer lies in the pages of Knightley & Son, where it shares space with some terrific espionage, puzzle solving, humor, and some very entertaining, if belated, father-and-son bonding. As enjoyable as it is engaging, Knightley & Son succeeds in its dual plans of unmasking a nefarious conspiracy and captivating middle grade readers. To find out more about this terrific new book I caught up with its author Rohan Gavin.
Kenny: Did you get permission from the actual Combination to reveal their existence in your story? Also, in what ways does your fictional version of this nefarious, shadowy, nigh all powerful criminal organization differ from the real one?
Rohan: Haha. I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of the villainous organization you speak of. What I can tell you is the Combination is always changing, and (like many organizations these days) there appears to be a new Number 1 in charge almost every week. So it was hard to know who to ask. Back in reality, “the Combination” was a term that originated in the early days of the American mafia where various crime families combined into bigger organizations to gain more power. I liked the term so I borrowed it
Kenny: What are three other important non fiction elements of Knightley and Son.
Rohan: Deductive reasoning is certainly a real skill and is something that good detectives rely on every day, even if they don’t use a magnifying glass anymore. I wanted the Knightleys to be armed primarily with their minds, rather than relying on weapons. The one physical weapon they do share is the martial art Wing Chun, which is also a real discipline. It’s one of the oldest forms of Kung Fu and relies not on strength but on balance, flow and speed, so it is suitable for anyone from children to adults. In fact, it was devised by a young Chinese woman two centuries ago, to defend against marauding bandits. Finally, there really is a secret Tube station in London, but you’ll have to get to the end of the book to find out where it is.
Kenny:I’ve noticed that disorganized people often form relationships with organized people. Is that part of the reason Darkus’ very extraordinary father had been married to his much more prosaic mother?
Rohan: Absolutely. I think it’s the yin and the yang–two equal but opposing forces. Alan Knightley was married to Jackie and her down-to-earth wisdom and steady nature was a perfect balance to Alan’s outlandish obsession with the supernatural. In a way their son Darkus is struggling between the two parents. He loves his mother but is drawn to the adventure and the unknown which his father represents.
Kenny: If an adult enjoyed your book a great deal and found it very funny and its characters very likable should they be worried about their own maturity level? After all the book is spot on in terms of staying within a middle grade mental and emotional landscape?
Rohan: Don’t panic, it’s only your inner child. When I wrote Knightley & Son I tried to come up with something that would appeal to anyone. I don’t think there should be barriers to what people enjoy. My two biggest inspirations while writing the book were Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Roald Dahl, both of whom appeal to every age group. The idea of a father-son duo seemed like a good way to try and achieve that.
Kenny: You mention that Knightley and Son will return. What can you reveal about their future exploits?
Rohan: I’ve just finished the first draft of the sequel, which revolves around dogs–or werewolves–Darkus and his dad will have to work out which. Darkus also has a four-legged friend to help him solve the case. All the characters are back and many of them are still recovering from the events of the first book. The third book is a fistful of ideas at this point, but with luck it will develop into a plot soon!
Kenny: Thanks Rohan!
Rohan: Total pleasure. Thanks for reading.