Q and A with Victor Dixen

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If you were part of the crew, waiting to meet your future partner, what would your approach to the speed dating be?

 

Well, I think I would adopt the same position as Léonor: enjoy the trip to space and try to stay authentic, escaping the show business madness.

I would probably use a “logical” rule as she did, inviting each contestant the exact same number of times to attend the speed-dating sessions with me.

But is it really possible, to be both part of the game and out of the game?

This is one of the questions raised in Phobos 

 

 

The Phobos series feels very epic. Would you be happy to see your work turned into a film or tv series?

Actually, I wrote Phobos a bit like script or a storyboard. Instead of “chapters”, I chose to organize the text around “sequences”, each of them corresponding to a different camera angle. Since Phobos is primarily a novel about images and screens, I thought it would be logical and impactful to have this kind of partitioning.

 

I really visualized this story in my head while writing it, and I would love to see it again on a real screen – re-imagined by a director!

 

 

If the series was turned into a TV show or film, do you have any cast in mind?

Not really…

But I’m always interested to see the proposed casting posted by readers on social networks and blogs. I gathered a few of them here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/victor.dixen.books/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1046079018771786

There is one actress though who I could totally see playing the role of Serena, though: the great Tilda Swinton!

 

 

Were you ever tempted to make fundamental changes to the series before translation?

It always feels great when I learn that one of my books will be published in another language, because it means that the story will be shared with new readers.

For the English translation, a very talented translator has been appointed by my British publisher Bonnier: Daniel Hahn. He actually pointed out a few things we should change for the English edition, for the sake of cultural background or consistency. Apart from that, I didn’t feel the need to make significant changes.  

 

 

 

If you could give your readers an insight into the third book with three words: what would they be?

NEVER . ADMIT . DEFEAT

 

What was your initial inspiration for the series?

There are two ideas at the origin of Phobos.

The first idea is linked to space conquest, a theme that has always interested me since I was a child. Today, we have the technology allowing us to go to Mars, but not to come back. The possibility of a one-way ticket stimulated my imagination.

The second idea is linked to the way our world seems to be fascinated by images. We are surrounded by screens, for better and for worse. On the one hand, screens give us the possibility to establish dialogues and relationships throughout the world, and they are also an unlimited territory for creativity. But on the other hand, it is difficult to escape from the flux of images: screens prompt us to react emotionally and instantly to every stimulus, without thinking first. 

That is the reason why images are so important in Phobos :image of the self, image of the others, false appearances. 

 

 

Which other French authors, other than yourself, would you recommend for young adults taking their GCSEs in order to develop their language skills?

Christelle Dabos has built a great fantasy world in her series “La Passe-Miroir”, that has just been translated to English this year under the title “The Mirror Visitor Quartet”. It’s great that this story is available in the 2 languages, for readers who want to develop their French while still keeping an eye on the English text. You will find here the same sense of wonder in the magical “His Dark Material” series, by Philip Pulman.

For those of you who would like to win the first two books, comment on this post telling me who you would most like to head to Mars with.

Distortion by @VictorDixen @HotKeyBooks

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About:

After a speed-dating show that is literally out of this world, twelve young astronauts are set to become the first humans to colonise Mars. They are also the victims of the cruellest of plots.

Léonor thought she was a pioneer on an extraordinary mission. She thought she had left all regrets behind her on Earth. But when memories are this painful, there can be no forgetting . . .

Characters

Leonor is as wonderful as ever. Her relationship with the rest of the crew is a little more open. It gives the story scope and allows her to become the leader, whether she wants it or not. She is the consistent within a world of chaos and you’ll want to stay by her side from start to finish.

Returning characters Harmony and Andrew are thrown further into the fray in Distortion and they are a welcome addition to the narrative. Now Andrew is not trying to put pieces together on his own, the tension has changed somewhat. Allowing him to spend time with Harmony gives the reader more scope into his character and he’s someone I want to spend even more time with.

Plot

Not going to lie, I wasn’t sure where the sequel was going. By the mid way point I was convinced there wasn’t a sequel. I assumed that perhaps the trilogy was condensed, and it was leaving me a little sad. It’s on of the reasons why the final act pulled the rug from under me and yet again had me begging for the sequel. 

Collision cannot come quick enough for me. The writing is engaging and the story is compulsive. You can’t put it down and it certainly would make the perfect TV show for all ages.

 Pick up Distortion and Ascension now. Collision is due April 2019

https://amzn.to/2AmrhVq

Book Review The Island by M A Bennet

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The book is an epic rollercoaster from the first page. There are layers and twists within the plot and narration that will ensure you’ll want to read it again. I garentee you’ll discover something new every time as well.
Such a refreshing change having a male main character within a first person narrative. You’ll feel a little like a helpless, frustrated, Jiminy Cricket as Link’s story develops and he faces challenges on the Island. I found myself shouting as the pages one or twice. Okay, it was at least five.

Taking the concept of a private school with a skewed idea of success looks like, Link is your underdog and a book like this would normally be about the problems he faces and how he overcomes the challenges without sacrificing himself. But, you are not entering into that sort of narrative and you quickly find out Wonderland rules apply; up becomes down, the strong are weak and the geek will rule all.

While the twists are shocking, it’s the character responses to them that are the bit that will make sure you don’t put this book down.

Ascension by Victor Dixen @VictorDixen

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Release date: 28.6.2018
About:
Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world’s craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.

Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones.
She has signed up for glory.
She has signed up for love.
She has signed up for a one-way ticket.
Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.
Pre-order here


Characters

I love Leonor. She’s a good voice to have when you’re stuck in space; she grounds you, so to speak. When you have a character like her; passionate, flawed and insightful. The way she works through the speed dating is interesting and something I easily identify with. Not only that, it adds a level of internal conflict that some narratives miss.

We learn bits about the other crew, but it’s those left on earth that are the most interesting. We have Serena, who communicates directly with the participants and becomes the ‘host’ of the broadcast. She’s a piece of work, you’ll quickly learn, but I want you to find that out for yourself.

Plot

It reads like a brilliant Sci-fi blockbuster. There are many threads in play and they change your perspective like a rubrics cube, waiting to be solved. Being the first in a trilogy, you go in knowing that you will have a resolve of some sorts, but there will be questions left unanswered to ensure you want more. It’s expertly done so that it doesn’t feel like it’s the first in a sequence, but a story in its own right.

Writing

Being a translated story, there’s always a worry that the writing loses something. This story, I’m delighted to say, doesn’t. It’s language is clean, its engaging and powerful. It makes for such a consumable, compulsive read.
I just wish I knew enough French to read the other two books in the series. Yes, they’re already published guys but you need to have progressed further than a GCSE in French to be able to access them.

Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

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Release Date: 8.2.2018
About:
Lily has died in a car accident. The trouble is, Lily’s really not at all sure she wants to ‘move on’ . . . This funny, heartbreaking novel is perfect if you loved John Green or The Lovely Bones.
Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road.
She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. And very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance, arrive and she sees her own body that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.
But what is she supposed do now?
Lily has no option but to follow her body and sees her family – her parents and her twin brother – start falling apart. And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .
Buy from Here


Character/s

Lily is one of the most interesting characters I’ve seen on page. She’s dead from the moment we meet her, so we never really get a true sense of who she was. Being in the first person means we get a reflective character full of regret. It’s just as untrustworthy as other characters you meet and establish as untrustworthy.

Plus, a good chunk of the time, she’s not being herself. She’s being her brother. Now that is interesting and is truly good at showing how little we can sometimes know people.

Plot

The supernatural Freaky Friday plot really works here. It toes a perfect line of light-hearted scenarios and a deep emotional look at grief and loss. It’s not for everyone, but for those people who have lost someone close and have found it difficult to process those emotions, this might actually be the story for you.

Writing

The sign of good writing here is how the movements of Lily. Regardless of her form; ghost or host, there’s no confusion as to where she is or who she is. The writing also keeps emotion in play while allowing the reader to remove themselves from the grief.

The Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland #bookreview #hanreview @HotKeyBooks

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The Semi Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland #bookreview #hanreview @HotKeyBooks
Release date: 5.9.17

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From Goodreads: A funny, moving love story about facing fears hand in hand – one snake/spider/potentially unstable fourth-floor balcony at a time. From acclaimed author of OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS, Krystal Sutherland.

Esther Solar’s family is . . . unusual. Her father hasn’t left the basement in six years. Her brother is terrified of darkness.

Esther isn’t afraid of anything – because she avoids pretty much everything. Elevators are off limits, as are open spaces, crowds, family pets, birds, needles, haircuts, dolls and mirrors.

But when Esther is pickpocketed by her cocky old classmate Jonah Walker, Esther and Jonah become surprising friends. Jonah sets a challenge: every week they must work their way through the world’s fifty most common phobias. Skydiving, horse riding, beekeeping, public speaking, reptile houses – they plan to do it all.

Soon their weekly foray into fear becomes the only thing that keeps them tethered to reality, and to each other. But each is keeping a secret from the other, a secret that threatens to rip them apart.

Buy it here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Semi-Definitive-List-Worst-Nightmares/dp/147140661X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513773899&sr=8-1&keywords=Krystal+Sutherland
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36222995-a-semi-definitive-list-of-worst-nightmares

My first thoughts

I loved this book. It struck such a chord with me it ways I never expected it to. I hated that I started it while I was still working, which meant it became my commuter read, instead of devouring read that it should have been.

The Characters

Esther Solar is a unique and beautiful character who belongs in the wonderful world of Tim Burton. She is charming and delight to have on this journey. As a reader, I feel her pain and her triumphs.

Jonah is a mysterious addition to the narrative. He brings Esther out of her shell and helps her to come to terms with her life. He has his own personal challenge to face too. While it appears to be journeyed without the reader, the bulk of it is felt regardless.

The Plot

Its story is simple in terms of its outset, but is complex in its completion. Esther must complete each one of her fears in order to get her notebook back off Jonah. Having 50 items to be checked off could have become a little tiresome had Krystal chosen to depict every single conquest. Happily, we skip through them in order to progress to the deeper meaning of fears.

By the time the reader gets to the final act, we’re giving some heart wrenching twists that will tear up even the driest of eyes.

The Writing

The book is written in a fresh quirky style that pulls you in from the first sentence and doesn’t let you go, long after you finish reading.