Twelve-year-old Charlie Watkins could have inherited his dad’s massive intellect.
He got his massive feet instead.
Perhaps if Charlie had that intellect he might have been able to figure out why so many men in suits were suddenly following him or where his dad hid the Cubit – a mythical object that men have sworn to protect and even more have died trying to possess – before his so-called accident.
If starting yet another new school wasn’t bad enough, Charlie meets Mr Leopold, a disfigured, mind-reading lunatic and discovers that he alone must find the Cubit if he is to save his dad. The Brotherhood, however, have other ideas. Led by the ruthless Draganovic, they will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. With the help of Mr Leopold and fellow new boy Elvis, Charlie sets out on The Cubit Quest.
Hunting for the Cubit, playing football, lessons with the dreaded Funeral Face and unsuccessfully avoiding school bully Grimshaw by day, Charlie finds his nights no less complicated. Stalked in his dreams, he’s soon immersed in a world of power struggles, battling dragons and duels to the death. With the Brotherhood hot on his heels and as the bullets begin to fly, there are no guarantees that Charlie, or anyone else, will make it to the end in one piece.
Well, they say that everyone needs a hobby, but whilst sat in a tent listening to fighter jets scream overhead in a foreign land, I realised that I needed something else: a distraction. Writing was the perfect solution; even if writing about military life wasn’t. I was much more interested in writing about action-packed adventures that was bristling with the likes of bullying, crunching tackles and great goals on the football pitch, the afterlife, mythical creatures, fate, destiny and the obligatory arch-villain hellbent on world domination. Hence my foray into the world of young adult writing began. You could say that I was always going to be less Andy McNab and more J.K. Rowling.
They also say that you should write about the things you know, and even if I was writing about twelve-year-old boy Charlie Watkins, who suddenly found that he had more enemies than hot dinners, or super-powerful and deadly adversaries, or hobgoblins, I wanted people to believe it. Therefore, I needed a real place to set my semi-fantasy world. The town of North Shields, in the northern corner of England with a view of the River Tyne, the place where I grew up, provided the perfect backdrop for my first novel The Cubit Quest. After all, the place really does have it all – great buildings, great parks, great coastline, and even greater people. I hoped to do the place justice – I didn’t.
The reason for this was relatively simple: I wasn’t very good at it. Four years down the line and The Cubit Quest was still more a figment of my imagination than a reality. The ‘Ian Rankin style’ of writing, namely you have a rough idea of where you’re going and let’s see how it pans out, was hugely successful – for Ian Rankin that is! For me, the process was an unmitigated disaster – four years and no end product proving testament to that fact. But that didn’t matter. Other than my lovely wife, nobody knew I was writing and nobody was going to read it anyway – right?
The process also highlighted something that I, and anyone who meets me will figure out soon enough: I have the world’s worst memory. The places in The Cubit Quest were all real, Ralph Gardner High, Charlie’s house, Elvis’s house, Sonia’s house, all of it – ‘were’ being the operative word. The story is therefore a mismatch of eras, some present day, some straight from my very poor memory. The result is less Dan Brown, whereby every detail is correct at the time of writing and more John Grisham – never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Having a second crack at it – it was my secret hobby after all – I knuckled down to some serious planning and eleven months later I had a first draft, a completed novel at last! Of course, perhaps I should have mentioned that it wasn’t The Cubit Quest, it was the follow up, which takes up immediately where The Cubit Quest leaves off. It was an odd situation, even I’ll admit that, to have the second part of what I envisaged to be a four-part series and no first part in existence.
All that remained, was to complete that first novel – and complete it I did! It was a behemoth by the time I’d finished, large enough to give a sci-fi epic a run for its money. Having visited the fabulous Warner Bros Studios to spend a very enjoyable day living and breathing the equally fabulous world of Harry Potter there is an opening address by J.K. Rowling in which she says that the Philosopher’s Stone was a product of good editing. I didn’t appreciate this fully – but I did by the time I’d whittled the book down to a more palatable word length – eight edits, ouch!
I was recently asked what short response I’d say to someone who had a passing interest in The Cubit Quest. My response: buy a ticket, strap in and enjoy the rollercoaster ride of an adventure!
This book was a weird read, but something a bit different. It was advertised to me as YA but I’d say it’s that middle ground between Middle Grade and YA.
There was a lot of little references in this book, which I absolutely adored, like Charlie went to the Library to pick up a copy of a Garth Nix book, there was characters with names that were references to things. It made my read more fun when I picked up on them.
At times it did border on a bit silly, but I think that’s mainly because Leck seemed to want to keep the reader in the dark about what was going on in the same way that Charlie was. It was generally a bit awkward at times because it would go from the fantastical elements to kids playing football in the space of a few sentences.
The formatting wasn’t really great either, there wasn’t enough line breaks to tell you when you’d moved into a different POV or a different time. Like it felt like it needed more paragraphs or general transitions.
This was set in South Shields (I think) which was quite nice to read for me as my Gran lives in the Tyneside area and the place she lives was actually mentioned at one point.
I occasionally found some of the fantastical elements of the plot a bit confusing, I eventually got my head around it but I felt there maybe could have been a bit more of an explanation to what was going on.
I liked that this was still set in a school. What I mean by that is that too often in books of this nature kids find out that they have powers and have to go on an adventure leaving their school and family life behind. Whereas this book was still set at home and the MC still had all his childhood problems.
Living in Telford, Shropshire, Trevor Leck has been dabbling in writing for over fifteen years. Always a fan of gripping adventure stories he has taken inspiration from his favourite authors, including John Grisham and J K Rowling, and the towns and cities he grew up, especially North Shields, to create his Young Adult series.
Thank you to Rachel Gilbey for arranging this tour!