A warm welcome to interesting YA author, Philip Coleman, who has used his knowledge of certain European cities to write this exciting debut novel, The Master’s Book – it’s definitely on my TBR list!
Thanks for being my guest, Philip, and for providing such fascinating information.
The Master’s Book
Sean moves to Brussels to a house that is a crime scene...
In 1482 Mary, the last Duchess of Burgundy, lies on her deathbed in a castle in Flanders. She is only 24. In her final moments she makes a wish that, 500 years later, will threaten the lives of a boy and a girl living in Brussels.
The Master’s Book is the story of Sean, an Irish teenager, just arrived in Brussels to a house that is also a crime scene. Together with Stephanie, his classmate, he finds an illuminated manuscript, only for it to be stolen almost at once.
Where did this manuscript come from? Who was it originally made for? Is there a connection with the beautiful tomb Sean has seen in Bruges? Above all, why does someone want this book so badly that they are prepared to kill for it?
Part thriller and part paper-chase, this book is aimed at boys and girls of twelve and over.
In the Master’s Footsteps
The time I spent in Brussels was one of the happiest of my life. Some of the reasons for this were work-related but it was also because my son and daughter were at just the right age when, coming from Ireland, they were exposed to the rich culture and history of mainland Europe.
Despite its reputation as a boring EU city – and the fact that some areas are quite run down – Brussels and the beautiful neighbouring towns of Bruges, Ghent and Leuven are almost like time capsules of European history. They were ruled over at various times by the Romans, the Holy Roman Empire, the Burgundians, the Spanish, the French and the Dutch, before Belgium became a new country in the 19th century (and soon acquired colonies that became its shame). At the same time, Brussels is also very much a modern city.
One exciting aspect of life there for our children was the cultural melting pot in the European school, as manifested by the number of startlingly beautiful mixed race children.
Without wanting to put my own children – or any others I knew in Brussels - into a story, I wanted to recapture the feeling of seeing the city through the eyes of a young teenager. I found a way to do this when I stumbled on an Internet article about the Master of Mary of Burgundy, a medieval artist (we don’t know his real name) who created several beautiful illuminated manuscripts, including two for Mary, the last Duchess of Burgundy, who lived in the late fifteenth century. I decided straight away that this enigmatic artist would be the anchor for the plot.
So the story has all these elements: it is set in many locations around Brussels, Bruges and Ghent, it features a medieval manuscript, and the two main characters are a teenage Irish boy (Sean), his sister (Maeve) and Congolese-English girl (Stephanie). It’s aimed for the readership to which my own children belonged at that time (i.e. 12 plus) and, above all, it’s meant to be fun.
I hope you like it. (Sounds brilliant, Philip!)
Philip Coleman has worked as a biologist for most of his life—in Ireland, Belgium and now in Switzerland. Having been an avid reader all his life, he took up writing only in 2006. This is his first published novel. He has a grown-up son and daughter (who were roughly the same ages as Sean and Maeve during the time in Brussels but otherwise aren’t a bit like them at all!). He now lives in France.
You can find Philip on Facebook