Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas at last!

Super Maxwell and the Burning Boys has just become available to order on - just in time for Christmas!

Monday, 21 December 2009

The End of Time

Super Maxwell and the Burning Boys is now available at - and has been for the last 12 hours - It should be available in UK within the next 24 hours - but in the meantime, here's the opening chapter - The End of Time.

The explosion boomed across the sands and jungle and streets and mountains of Virporta Island. Windows shattered up and down Spudmore Avenue, and vibrated and cracked on Front Street. The ancient trees of the Black Woods shuddered. Seagulls (and other birds, which did not strictly speaking belong on the planet Earth) took to the skies, crying out in terror. An old and well-respected pteranodon named Kevin fell out of the sky and lay stunned on the hockey pitch of the Watchmen Academy.
'What the bleeding Nora O'Riley on a unicycle was THAT!' exclaimed Billy Barker, stumbling off his skateboard.
Maxwell Jones stepped off his own skateboard and dumbly pointed at the rooftops, too amazed to speak.
A huge mushroom cloud of soil and grass and leaves had risen into the air, momentarily obscuring the ugly shape of Pugg's Potato Factory. A figure rose above the cloud, like a cork fired from a Champagne bottle. The figure was dressed entirely in red. He flew over Spudmore Avenue, hit (and totally demolished) the chimney of Balthazar Kane's house, and came to a bouncing halt in front of the two stunned boys.
'Good morning Maxwell Jones, good morning Billy Barker,' said the huge man in red. He sprang to his feet and carelessly beat out the flames that were licking at his white beard. 'Just finished your paper round?'
'Juggernaut?' said Maxwell. The huge man was dressed in a red boiler suit and wore red Wellington boots and a jaunty red cap on his oversized head. He was covered from top to toe in soil, but seemed none the worse for his explosive journey over the rooftops. 'What happened to you?'
Cyril Jugg, or Juggernaut as he much preferred to be called, grinned sheepishly. 'Just a slight miscalculation, wains, nothing to get excited about!'
'What were you doing?' asked Maxwell suspiciously. 'You weren't messing around with Spankies, were you?'
'Spankies! What do you take me for? I'm retired, Maxwell Jones. I haven't touched a Spankie in weeks!' He said these words quite sincerely, indeed Juggernaut seemed offended by the suggestion . . . But Maxwell and Billy didn't believe a word of it.
Up until six month ago Juggernaut had spent almost all of his spare time running around blowing things up. Juggernaut was a Good Man, a name that Maxwell and Billy had come to understand actually meant superhero. Juggernaut had spent the last ten years on Vir, a planet that was the original home of the Good Men. There Juggernaut had fought the Long Men, former Good Men who had been turned into vampiric monsters. Juggernaut main weapon in his battles had been Spankies; spider-like robot bombs which, when they weren't assisting Juggernaut demolishing everything in his sight, rather fancied themselves as amateur comedians.
Maxwell and Billy had reunited Juggernaut with his wife Jaqui and his daughter Bella, and Juggernaut had declared himself retired from the hero business, and had settled down to the quiet life on Virporta Island.
Maxwell and Billy exchanged a knowing look. They both knew that Juggernaut had spent most of his "retirement" hunting monsters in the woods and secretly designing highly destructive weapons in his garden shed.
‘Are you sure you ain’t been messing with Spankies?' asked Billy, giving Juggernaut a knowing wink.
'Of course I'm sure! What are you suggesting?' Juggernaut exclaimed huffily. Another fire had started in his hair, and he quickly beat it out. 'I have a mole problem, that's all. It's nothing to get excited about.'
'Yes, moles.'
'Garden moles?'
'No, space moles! Yes, obviously garden moles, you idiot wain!'
Billy raised an eyebrow. 'And what were you using to solve this problem with garden pests? Bleeding dynamite?'
'Dynamite! Of course not! 'Where would I get dynamite?’ exclaimed Juggernaut. ‘I used nitro glycerine.'
'Nitro . . .?' Maxwell goggled at him. 'Where did you get nitro glycerine on Virporta Island!' Mrs Trimm, who was Billy's auntie and ran the island's general store, often boasted that she stocked absolutely everything anyone could possibly want or need. Maxwell wondered if that included high explosives.
'I made it myself . . . Or at least I was making it myself until my little accident,' Juggernaut's eyes glittered madly, and he went on excitedly, 'It really quite simple. You see, you take some garden weed killer and some sugar--'
'JUGG!' they all looked round at the angry shout. Balthazar Kane, father of Tamara Kane (one of the most unpleasant girls Maxwell had ever had the misfortune to meet) and editor of the island's newspaper, the Virporta Herald, was advancing on Juggernaut, a house brick held in both hands. Mr. Kane, who usually wore a natty white suit and Panama hat and had the shiny flawless complexion of a doll, was covered from head to foot in black soot. 'My CHIMNEY!' he bellowed. 'Look what you did to my CHIMNEY, you MANIAC!' He held up the bricks, either as evidence, or in preparation to beat Juggernaut over his sturdy head.
'Me?' Juggernaut's face took on an expression of wounded astonishment. 'I think you must be mistaken Balth--'
His words were interrupted by the loud whistling sound of a large object descending through the atmosphere. A large shed landed in the middle of the road with a splintering CRASH! Above the shed door were painted the words: "Cyril's Shed - KEEP OUT!!!" in large red letters. As they all stared at the shed in astonishment the door creaked open, revealing a sheet of paper tacked to the inside depicting a troupe of moles being blown into the air under a cheering stick-figure drawing of Juggernaut. Beside the drawing was a formula for making nitro glycerine.
'Ah,' said Juggernaut. The shed collapsed with a pitiful groan. 'Yes . . . ' a half brick feel from Juggernaut's hair and landed on Balthazar Kane's foot.
'I think we'd better get out of here sharpish, mate,' whispered Billy. Maxwell nodded in agreement.
They both climbed onto their skateboards and continued down Spudmore Avenue as Mr Kane was joined by Juggernaut's wife, Jaqui. Mrs Jugg was holding a burnt and blackened bedsheet, and both she and Mr. Kane were advancing on Juggernaut with murder in their eyes.
'See what I mean?' said Billy, when they had turned into Front Street and were out of sight of the growing mob of villagers who were all advancing murderously on Juggernaut. 'This place is just too flippin weird, Max.'
Maxwell didn't feel inclined to disagree with Billy. Virporta Island was weird, and it was, it seemed, growing increasingly weirder with every day that passed. This was proving to be an increasing problem for Maxwell, Billy and their friends.
Six months before Maxwell and Billy had discovered that Virporta Island was not, as Maxwell ha always believed, merely a rather dull little place were it was very difficult to buy comic books and almost impossible to watch cartoons on the island's temperamental TVs. They had discovered that the island was actually growing in order to cater for a flood of new islanders who had returned to the place of their birth to take part in a mysterious Test conducted by the sinister school inspector, Mr Vim. Maxwell and Billy had secretly followed Mr Vim; first to the frozen forests of Mab (where they had almost been torn limb from limb by the Beasts of Mab and the monstrous Nurgler) and then to Vir where, in the Watchmen University, they had met Juggernaut, fled the terrifying Long Men, been rescued (after a fashion) by Dr Lambton Arcania (a brilliant, if cowardly, scientist who also happened to be a talking chimpanzee) and they had also met Titus Mamble.
Titus Mamble had come very close to killing them all when Maxwell (more by luck than judgement, he now believed) had forced Mamble’s hand into the Astrosus Stone; a mysterious black jewel that had sucked Mamble inside of it to his certain death.
After that terrifying adventure Maxwell, Billy and their closest friends – Bella Jugg, Jamie Blip and Daisy Electra – had sworn to become Watch Men. They had promised to watch for weird and mysterious occurrences that might spell the return of Titus Mamble.
Six months had passed since then and – with the exception of Maxwell, Billy, Daisy and Jamie all celebrating their twelfth birthday on the same day – nothing unusual had happened. But on an island where it was not at all unusual for a passing tyrannosaurus rex to offer you a plate of scones, and where the village butcher, Boris Zubralenko, regularly flew to work, “weird” and “mysterious” weren’t words that had much meaning.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Nearly there...

Received the final cover proof of Super Maxwell and the Burning Boys yesterday (December 10) with the publishers, New Generation, confident it will be published within the next week - Well, I know what I want for Christmas...!