2 Feb 2015

Author Interview / Donald Hounam

The Bishop of Oxford is very, very dead. At least the police think it’s the Bishop – it’s impossible to be sure, since someone has made off with his head.

Fifteen-year-old Frank Sampson is the forensic sorcerer on the case. But he is easily distracted. By Kazia, the supposed victim’s beautiful, and possibly dangerous, niece. By Marvo, his police colleague, who seems dead set on making his life difficult. By the terror that he's losing his Gift – the ability to work magic. And by all those stupid rules which get in the way of proving that everybody is wrong about the case . . . except Frank.

Donald Hounam has wrought a sharp, exciting, original new voice in teen fiction.     


  1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
    Agatha Christie. I have this vision of Hercule Poirot waving a wand and screaming in broken English while bolts of phosophorescence flicker along his moustache…
    More seriously, I tried co-writing a couple of times and it didn’t really work out.
  2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
    Two answers again, I’m afraid.
    Three days a week, I commute from Canterbury to the day job in London. I start early so I can stop off, usually at the Caffè Nero, and do an hour’s caffeine-fuelled writing. I hack away on the train up; and again, if I’m still awake, on the train back down.
    The other four days, I’ve got a messy office at home. So all I’ve got to do is just push all that mess out of the way…
  3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
    Sending things out. My girlfriend had to put a gun to my head to get me to submit
    Gifted to anybody. Just one of the reasons I dedicated the book to her…
  4. When and why did you first start writing?
    I was an obsessive reader as a child, teenager, student… Sooner or later I was doomed to take a crack at making my own stuff up and hiding it away in a drawer.
  5. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
    When I was about twelve, I loved Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy stories, which featured a forensic sorcerer. I re-read them years later, and they weren’t actually so hot; but I still liked the idea of a forensic sorcerer…
  6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
    I read a lot less now than I’d like. The day job and the commute mash me up pretty good; and
    Gifted and its sequal have kept me pretty busy.
    Still, I’m just finishing one of Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co. books:
    The Whispering Skull.
  7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
    Ideally, have an immediate relative in the publishing business.
    Failing that, you put your bum on the chair and your feet under the table, then you just hammer it out.
    Madonna says it best:
It doesn't matter who you are,
It's what you do that takes you far.
And if at first you don't succeed
Here's some advice that you should heed:
You get up again, over and over,
You get up again, over and over,
You get up again, over and over,
You get up again, over and over…

And repeat.