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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Shrewsbury author takes readers out of this world

A Shropshire author is about to take readers on a trip out of this world with the release of his debut novel.

Shrewsbury-based writer Jamie Russell
Shrewsbury-based writer Jamie Russell

Shrewsbury-based writer Jamie Russell is launching SkyWake: Invasion on Thursday 1 July with Walker Books, the world’s leading independent publisher of children’s books.

The action-packed story, about a team of gamers who must work together to stop an alien invasion, is the first in a new trilogy with two further books scheduled for 2022 and 2023.

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Jamie, a former film critic and the author of several non-fiction books for grown-ups, penned the novel after his children asked him to write something they could read themselves.

“I really have my daughters to thank for SkyWake: Invasion becoming a reality. I mentioned the idea on the walk to school one morning a few years back and they didn’t stop asking me about it. Their enthusiasm made me sit down and write it. They both love action-packed adventures like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and they wanted something that would have a really strong female lead.’

SkyWake: Invasion tells the story of teen gamer Casey who discovers that her favourite videogame ‘SkyWake’ is actually an alien training tool. When the aliens start abducting the best gamers to fight in a war on a distant planet, Casey and her teammates are the only ones who can stop them.

Says Jamie: ‘It’s a classic slice of science fiction – aliens! spaceships! plasma rifles! – with lots of gaming references. I pitched it as a book for kids who are too busy playing Fortnite to read Harry Potter, and I’m hoping it will encourage lots of reluctant readers to put down their Switch or Xbox controllers and get reading this summer.’

SkyWake: Invasion, which came out in Australia and New Zealand in March, has already generated some fantastic feedback Down Under.

Says Jamie: ‘A dad in Tasmania wrote a lovely Facebook post about how SkyWake got his 11-year-old son into reading for pleasure. His son read it in two sittings and wouldn’t stop talking to him about it. A few days later he started picking up more novels to read and hasn’t stopped since. The dad described SkyWake as “the gateway book” he’d been looking for. I doubt any review will top that one.’

Jamie is currently writing the second book in the trilogy, while juggling virtual visits to schools across the UK.

‘It’s all quite surreal. Being published by Walker Books is a dream come true. My kids have grown up reading the amazing books they publish from We’re Going On A Bear Hunt to the Alex Rider series. I’m honoured to be in such stellar company. My daughters, though, keep reminding me that I wouldn’t have written SkyWake without them nagging me. They’re already calculating their cut of the royalties…’

SkyWake: Invasion is published by Walker Books on 1 July in paperback, Kindle and audiobook formats.

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