Blog Tour: The Boy Who Flew by Fleur Hitchcock.
Aithan Wilde is a dreamer and an inventor. He would rather work for a scientist or an inventor who is always reaching to see what might be possible than settle down and take what his grandmother would call a respectable job.
When his inventor friend Mr Chen is murdered, Aithan must find the flying machine they were building. There are other people looking for it too, and a reward is offered for the first person to build a machine capable of staying in the air.
This a story with twists and turns. It is set in a gloriously creepy past. Think cobbled streets and fear of knowledge and gentlemen with guns. Fleur Hitchcock has never shied away from the horror of murder, and this book is no exception. This is perfect for readers who like a bit of gore with their crime fiction.
I was given a chance to ask Fleur Hitchcock a question, and I was curious to know what inspired the machines in her story. I am delighted to share her answer with you. Thank you, Fleur H for your time and for the insight into your work.
Guest Post by author Fleur Hitchcock.
We had some odd books in our house. Not really picture books, but books with pictures. We had a book of early aeroplanes. Huge and incomprehensible to a child, but somehow very pretty.
We had a book of Rowland Emmett cartoons, and many books of Heath Robinson, and we had Professor Branestawn. I think I was always interested in the drawings – rather than the engineering, but found myself drawn towards the inventions themselves, and the possibilities that they offered, the promises they made. I kept this up by reading Tintin and then immersing myself in DC comics – Batman’s utility belt was soooo exciting.
And gradually as I moved further into words I began to understand the descriptions of the machines imagined, and sought them out in books, from the Alethiometer of His Dark Materials to the Time Turner in Harry Potter, I found the doors that these machines opened a little dangerous, and infinitely thrilling.
It happened that in my non-book life, I ran a gallery, where I sold automata – mechanical toys – and was, some years ago, commissioned to research ancient invention. I discovered ancient civilisations were much more technologically advanced than I had realised. The Middle East was full of time pieces and automated statues and sculpture. Heron of Alexandria invented a machine that could roll onto a stage, play out several scenes with puppets and roll off again. It was run entirely by sand, and he did this in 10 AD. There were all the awful machines of war, used by the Greeks and the Romans. There were the complicated stone door mechanisms of the Egyptians, and clever ways of getting water up from the sand into cities. I found that the Chinese invented tonnes of things, compasses, gunpowder and they really messed around with the possibilities of flight. Some of it rather horribly as punishment, and some of it for the advancement of humankind.
I found out that everyone, ever has seen new invention as both threatening, and exciting, and that people always wanted to own it, or fear it. This makes inventions in stories very useful and the catalysts for advance and intrigue. There’s this whole thing about what is possible and what is impossible. And I found that I really wanted to use that in stories myself – after all, as Arthur C Clarke said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. So – invention? Or magic? They may be one and the same thing. And stories allow a person to blur that boundary – and take huge leaps into the unknown.