‘Drone Racer,’ by Andy Briggs, cover illustration by Matteo Cuccato.

I was thrilled to be asked to participate in the blog tour for ‘Drone Racer’ because I knew that it was just the kind of book that  Book Boy would love, and because I knew that Andy Briggs really is a master of science fiction writing. His ‘The Inventory’ series was some of the first Sci-Fi I had read and enjoyed in a long time.

I am also very pleased to be able to share with you all an exclusive interview with Andy himself about…

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Together, Carson and his friends form the drone raving team, The Carsonators.  All their spare time, and spare cash, is poured into building faster and better drones to race.  This can prove expensive as one wrong flick of the joystick can result in hundreds of pounds worth of damage.

After one particularly damaging race, the team sneak off to the scrapyard in the dead of night to find some spare parts. But when Carson slips and bangs his head, they find a lot more than they had bargained for.  A drone. A very fast, very responsive, very intelligent drone. But all is not as it seems and there are people who will stop at nothing to get it.

There’s certainly a lot more to this drone than meets the eye.  But how can three children protect their star racer from some very determined and professional-looking agents?

I have yet to see any other middle grade books which tap into the drone racing trend. I know that Book Boy is desperate to get his hands on a drone of his own to fly, but I’m not sure I trust him not to zoom it off over the hill, never to be seen again!

‘Drone Racer’ lived up to my expectations of being a fast-paced thrill-a-minute read. Right from the first few pages, I felt I was in the thick of the action, racing drones wearing VR goggles, feeling every twist and turn. This momentum was sustained throughout the book with more nerve-shredding races, break-ins and car chases.

There is hidden depth to this story as the main character, Carson, and his father are struggling to get along after the loss of his mother. Carson can’t understand why his father never seems to  have any time for him, leaving him alone late into the night. It was interesting to see how father and son would resolve their differences and how their perspectives on circumstances differed.

And now, here is a special blog post from Andy about the process behind the writing of ‘Drone Racer’:

Where did you write Drone Racer?

I wrote it at home. Usually when I am writing I like to travel for inspiration, but the dark winter months when I wrote Drone Racer kept me at home and allowed me not to get too distracted! I have an office, surrounded by gadgets, gizmos, comics and toys… and drones of course, which is where I usually start my writing day. The plan is to remain completely focused, and I won’t leave the room until I have finished…

Of course that never happens. If I am at home I tend to work like a nomad, shifting camp down to the kitchen for a vital refresh at the coffee oasis. So I will work from the kitchen table staring into the garden. Then itchy feet will propel me into my library where I can curl up on comfy chair in front of the fish tank andpretend I am somewhere tropical and exciting.

How do you manage to stay focused and sit still to write a whole book?

I have a clever plan for that. I don’t. No matter how deep I am in writing, sneaky thoughts always raise their head over the parapet – be they ideas for new scenes or (usually) completely different stories. And while I plan my story and know (at the very least) the broad steps I will take to get there, I am conscious that writer’s block can ambush a writer at any time.

To combat that, and keep focus, I work on several projects at any one time. I usually have a screenplay or two on the go, or outlines for other books. I find by deliberately splitting my time between different stories, characters and worlds, that inspiration is more likely to strike. I believe it’s because I’m adding more creative building blocks from other stories that surprising or unlikely fusions of ideas occur.

For people that don’t yet know about drones or drone racing, can you explain…

Imagine it’s the Battle of Britain and youre soaring over the countryside in your Spitfire… or you’re speeding over the surface of the Death Star weaving between towers and entering winding tunnels. Heck, imagine you’re on the back of Toothless the Dragon, chasing another beastie through a sprawling network of caverns. THAT is drone racing.

You have a little drone (from the size of your hand to the size of a shoebox), which is usually a quadcopter (four propellers for stability). It’s connected to a radio-controlled unit in your hand.The real game changing element is the fact you have a camera mounted on the front of your drone that connects to your phone. When using your phone in a virtual reality headset you can now fly the drone as if you were sitting in the cockpit!

Line up several drones on the start line. Ahead of you is a course made out of hoops, tunnels, narrow corridors – it’s a fully three-dimensional obstacle course. Now you’re racing at high speeds through the course, banking and swooping – and occasionally colliding with other racers – as you fight to win the race. It’s terrific fun.

Drone racing is getting big each year, with clubs and competitions all around the world. If you think it’s a small silly sport, then just remember Luke Bannister won the Dubai Grand Prix for the UK in 2016. The prize was $250,000 – and he was only 15. Prize money has raised to over $1,000,000 in some competitions!

Have you ever used a drone? Do you have your own drone? How good are you at flying it?

Of course! I love flying my drone. The only problem is… I am somewhat challenged in my coordination. If there was a drone demolition derby then I will certainly be in with a chance! But that’s not going to stop me trying to improve. I may not be at drone racing competence yet, I may keep startling the cats, but I’m not going to give up no matter how many drones I break…

@abriggswriter

www.andybriggs.co.uk

Well I hope that’s inspired some of you to have a go yourself and watch out for ‘Drone Racer’- a thrilling read for adrenaline junkies, fans of speed and lovers of action.

Library Girl.

*Many thanks to Scholastic for sending me this title to review and to Emily Burns for inviting me to participate in the tour*

 

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