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a:Take Five: Sophie Masson and The Ghost Squad

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Please join us in celebrating the February 1st release of The Ghost Squad, written by esteemed WU contributor Sophie Masson.

Born in Indonesia of French parents, and brought up in France and Australia, Sophie Masson is the award-winning and internationally-published author of over 70 books for children, young adults and adults.  A former Chair of the Australian Society of Authors and current Chair of the New England Writers’ Centre and President of the Small Press Network, in 2019 Sophie received an AM award in the Order of Australia honours list.

 Imagine a world where all seems normal and yet nothing is – a world very much like our own, yet jarringly unlike. A world where two clandestine organisations, the Ghost Squad, and the Base, are engaged in a secret battle for control of information so dangerous it could literally change life as humans have always known it…

A bold, exciting YA novel with thrilling twists and turns, The Ghost Squad is a novel that will keep readers guessing – and keep them awake at night!

‘Get set for a heart-stopping chase, a stunning near-future world, and a desperate struggle to discover the truth about life, death and what comes next.’ — Alison Goodman, author of the bestselling Dark Days series

‘An action thriller that grapples with the biggest mystery of all: life after death.’ — Michael Pryor, author of The Laws of Magic

‘A dynamic and exciting thriller with smart, relatable characters…should appeal to fans of Stranger Things and readers of John Marsden’s ‘Tomorrow’ books.’ — Books+Publishing

Q1: What’s the premise of your new book?

The premise behind the new book is that, twenty years before the action starts, a major magnetic pulse caused by a huge solar flare hit the Earth and has not only caused chaos but also revealed the first glimmer of something that was not thought possible till then. Twenty years later the ramifications of that are still being felt, but most of the population don’t suspect quite how transformative it’s been, as a secretive government organization known as The Ghost Squad and a secretive underground resistance group known as the Base battle it out for control of information so dangerous and powerful it could literally change everything forever. In the midst of this teenagers Polly and Swan, who come from very different backgrounds, must band together to help an enigmatic little boy called Kel who is on the run and being hunted by all sides.

Q2: What would you like people to know about the story itself?

It’s an exciting, pacy thriller told alternately from the points of view of Polly—daughter of a homicide detective who’s gone missing—and Swan—a young Base operative—with many twists and turns, set in an unsettling world that feels almost normal, close to our own and yet which couldn’t be more different.

Q3: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?

They have to overcome many challenges! Lots of physical challenges as they try to protect Kel from his pursuers but also lots of psychological ones, especially around trust: Polly, who’s from the mainstream which doesn’t really know about the real situation in society, suddenly finds herself in a shadow world that’s absolutely terrifying; and Swan, who has grown up in the Base and thinks he knows exactly what the real situation is, finds out that what he thought he knew isn’t necessarily the case. In the end, all they can do is trust each other, and trust Kel, who is both a sweet, lost little boy and a mysterious figure about whom they know very little.

Q4: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?

This was a huge book for me to write: not only because the world I’ve created is quite complex and needed to feel both strange yet also oddly familiar, but also because the ideas in it are big and complex also, yet needed to be expressed simply, to suit the thriller genre, and it needed to be focused around character, not just plot. I wrote it over three years, within the context of a creative practice PhD, and it was just brilliant having that time and space to develop it slowly but also to have the fabulous input from my PhD supervisors, who were my first readers. I would send them chapters as I was writing it and they would make useful comments and suggestions and ask helpful questions. This was sheer luxury—and that continued when, after my PhD was completed, my book was acquired by wonderful MidnightSun Publishing and I worked on more revisions with their fantastic editors.

Q5: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?

I feel that this is a novel that is exactly as it should be—and to have had that opportunity to create it in the way that I did is something that makes me feel very grateful indeed.

Thank you for joining us today, Sophie, and giving us a behind-the-scenes peek at the craft behind your creation!




Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~50 regular contributors--including bestselling authors and industry leaders--and frequent guests. In 2014, the first Writer Unboxed UnConference (part UNtraditional conference, part intensive craft event, part networking affair) was held in Salem, MA. Learn more about our 2019 event, ESCAPE TO WuNDERLAND, on Eventbrite. In 2016, the Writer Unboxed team published a book with Writer's Digest. AUTHOR IN PROGRESS: A No-Holds-Barred Guide to What It Really Takes to Get Published has been well-received by readers who seek help in overcoming the hurdles faced at every step of the novel-writing process--from setting goals, researching, and drafting to giving and receiving critiques, polishing prose, and seeking publication. James Scott Bell has said of the guide, "Nourishment for the writer's soul and motivation for the writer's heart." You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter, and join our thriving Facebook community.


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