Dome Press 25th October 2018
Sleeper spy, Will Starling has been drafted into the SOE, joining forces with the French Resistance, but his memory is fractured and only occasional flashbacks reveal fragments of his past.
When his mission is compromised, Will suspects that he’s been betrayed. Back in London he hears that VIPER are developing a deadly weapon. As he and MI5 agent Anna Wilder set out to destroy it, their every move is anticipated by their enemies.
While Will fights to prevent genocide, his sister Rose, has become the key to VIPER’s future plans and is drugged to dull her kinetic powers. But Rose faces danger from an unexpected enemy and her time is running out.
2 years on from when we first met Will in Sleeper, the war continues and this book is set between London and Europe. With some familiar characters as well as some new ones, we specifically learn more about Will’s sister Rose, who is forefront in his mind as he is desperate to find her.
Sleeper: The Red Storm continues the fast pace of it’s predecessor – Sleeper, following Will as he embarks on another mission to prevent Viper from creating a weapon able to destroy the world. If you are a fan of Sleeper I am in no doubt that you will love this novel which follows Will in his journey of espionage. Now at 18 Will is an established and respected spy, an uprising star of British Intelligence.
Whereas I felt that Sleeper was aimed at a much younger audience, this sequel seems to have matured with its central protagonist. The main characters of Will and Anna, progressing into the second book are naturally more developed as their back stories become known. This book ended with a bang as I was left recovering from an almighty (and wholly unexpected) twist in the concluding pages.
Overall an entertaining read, at times a little outlandish and a stretch for my imagination but not so for the more open teen mind I am sure. Furthermore I do think the Sleeper series would translate terrifically to the big screen or possibly a TV drama series in the mode of 24!
Read on for my exclusive Q & A with Sleeper creator J D Fennell.
First, Will Starling what a character! Tell me where did the inspiration come for
Sleeper’s main protagonist?
I wanted the Sleeper books to be about revenge, so that is Will’s primary driver. At his core Will is courageous, dogged, honest and passionate. Yet he is a damaged young man with a head injury, memory loss and a rage burning inside him that he cannot explain. These elements bring out his weaknesses, which include impatience, moodiness, a short-temper, impulsiveness and aggression. All of these characteristics impact on Will’s progress for good or for bad.
What were the factors behind the decision to write about a teenage agent?
I don’t really think of Will in the sense of being a teenager. In Sleeper: The Red Storm, he is eighteen and already an adult with more than his fair share of death, trauma and adventure behind him. Remember, during the Second World War, people as young as seventeen were enlisted into the army. Sixteen if their parents consented.
Tell me about your writing process for the Sleeper books – with such a detailed plot
covering a broad area, how much research was required?
The story covers the exact historical timeline so I spent many hours researching. Also,
whereas Sleeper was based in London, The Red Storm takes place over three different
countries. I visited those places for authenticity. That was a tough call. 😉
Being a sequel, was The Red Storm an easier process than the first book?
For personal reasons, I was late starting the sequel. I therefore had less time to write
compared to the first book, which had been written at a more leisurely pace. With Red Storm I did some serious planning so that I could begin my day knowing exactly what I had to tackle and therefore still bring it in within the deadline.
At what point for you is the novel finished and how do you celebrate?
I have a small celebration when the first draft is complete because this is such an important milestone. I then do several more drafts and work with my agent to polish it. I will then work with my editor to do more and once that whole process is complete and we are all happy, we bring out the bubbles.
Am I correct in thinking the series is a trilogy? Can you tell us anything at all about
book number 3?
Yes, you are correct. I can’t say much other than expect the unexpected. That said, I am
hoping to release a short ebook on Rose’s story, by mid next year. I’m delighted people have really taken to her.
Thank you to JD Fennell for taking the time to answer these questions and to offer insight into the Sleeper series and what may be to come. Expect the Unexpected! The same could be true for Sleeper: The Red Storm
J.D. was born in Belfast at the start of the Troubles, and began writing stories at a young age to help
understand the madness unfolding around him.
A lover of reading, he devoured a diverse range of books – his early influences include Fleming, Tolkien,
Shakespeare and the Brontës.
He left Belfast at the age of nineteen and worked as a chef, bartender, waiter and later began a career in
writing for the software industry.
These days he divides his time between Brighton and London, where he lives with his partner and their two
J.D.’s debut, Sleeper, was published by The Dome Press in April 2017.
This is a blogtour so please do help promote this book by following the tour and sharing across social media.