Friday 13 September 2013

Friday Feature: Interview with Matt Cartney

As a huge fan of Matt Cartney's, it was great to talk to him about his Danny Lansing books!

1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

That's a great question! I just gave it a go - I screwed my eyes shut and into my head popped an image of a boy in a sleeping bag. He's on a camping trip, reading by the light of a torch, as the rain patters against the flysheet of his tent.

I suppose that means I see my readers as adventurous types - although not necessarily boys!

2. While it's a modern story and feels fresh and up to date, I said in my review that The Sons of Rissouli is reminiscent of classic adventure stories. What books did you grow up reading?

I'm very glad to hear that, because a modern take on classic adventure stories is exactly what I was going for!

Perhaps not surprisingly, I grew up reading those classic adventure stories. Particular favourites were the 'Biggles' books, Herge's Adventures of Tintin and the 'Swallows and Amazons' stories by Arthur Ransome. I also loved true stories of adventure, reading everything I could get my hands on. I really enjoyed some of the well known classics, like 'The Ascent of Everest' by Sir John Hunt and Thor Heyerdahl's 'Kon Tiki', but real joy came from finding rather more obscure tales of derring-do. 'No Picnic on Mount Kenya' by Felice Benuzzi and 'Lord of the Sharks'  by Franco Prosperi are two absolute belters I would recommend to any fan of adventure stories!

As a big fan of the earlier books you mentioned, I'll definitely keep an eye out for the last two!

3. I really liked the fairly short length of The Sons of Rissouli - especially as there was so much action packed into it! Are there any books you've ever read that you wished had been cut down in length?

When I was fifteen my English teacher made us read 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' by Thomas Hardy. I know it's a classic, but I confess I felt I'd never get to the end of it. My teacher then redeemed himself by setting us 'Love and War in Apennines' by Eric Newby. Newby remains one of my favourite authors - indeed, one of the recurring characters in my books is named after him.

4. According to Twitter, you're a mountaineer, snowboarder and motorcyclist. Which do you enjoy the most?

It's a difficult choice, but I'd have to say mountaineering. There's something incredibly satisfying about climbing to the top of a beautiful peak and looking out at the world below. Of course, the best thing is to combine more than one. I love to ride my motorbike to the bottom of a mountain and then hike up. I also love 'backcountry' snowboarding - which is essentially just climbing mountains then riding back down!

5. You also describe yourself as an ''inveterate traveller'' on Twitter. where's the coolest place you've ever been to?

Maybe Iran. Possibly New Zealand. Tibet was pretty cool... you know, I've been to a whole bunch of places that I thought were extremely cool and would struggle to choose between them, so I'm going to cheat and say the 'coolest' place I've been is the Hardangervidda in Norway. I was ski-touring acros the plateau and camping as I went. At night it dropped below -20 celsius and the condensation from my breath froze in sheets of frost on the inside of my tent. I slept with all my clothes on - including my down jacket and woolly hat! To stop my water going solid, I had to keep my waterbottle in my jacket during the day and in my sleeping bag at night. Now that was really cool - freezing in fact!

If anything, that sounds slightly too cool for me!

6. If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be and why? (Thanks go to Laura from Sister Spooky for the random question!)

It would have to be the keys to the National Motorcycle Museum. That way I could pop in late on a friday night and borrow a different classic motorbike every weekend!

7. If you could throw a small party for YA characters and/or authors, which six would you invite, and where would you hold it?

Let's see... Nancy Blackett from the Swallows and Amazons books would have to be there as she is my favourite fictional character. And Roger Walker from the same books - he always gets blamed for everything, so it would be nice for him to have an adventure without his siblings! Then I'd invite Ginger Hebblethwaite from the Biggles books, Tintin and Captain Haddock. Finally I'd invite Danny Lansing, as I'm sure he'd get on with all of them.

We'd have the party at Captain Haddock's home - Marlinspike Hall. I'd love to explore Marlinspike, accompanied by exclamations of 'Barbequed Billygoats!', 'By Jove!' and 'Billions of Blue Blistering Barnacles!' from my companions, with every amazing new artefact we found!

Brilliant choices - some of my favourite characters, particularly Nancy and Ginger (and Danny, of course!)

8. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what's the soundtrack to the Danny Lansing Adventures?

I don't listen to music when I'm actually writing, as I find it distracting. But I often find myself imagining scenes from the book I'm working on while I'm listening to music in the car or on the train. Usually it's the kind of music that would go well with a road trip - which is fitting because my books are very much about travelling and having new experiences. We're talking rock music mostly, like Pearl Jam's 'Given to Fly', 'Back in Black' by AC/DC or 'Radar Love' by Golden Earing.

9. What are you reading at the moment?

Right now I'm reading 'The Second World War' by Anthony Beevor. I'm a sucker for WWII history, as anyone who has read 'Red, White and Black' will know!

10. What's next for Matt Cartney?

Well, I've finished one more 'Danny Lansing Adventure' which I'm hoping will be out later this year. It's called 'The Treasure of Can Balam' and is set in the jungles of Central America. I'm about to start a short e-book (also starring Danny) set in Iceland and then it's another full length adventure with Danny, set in Russia. I must confess... I enjoy the research trips as much as the writing!

Sounds great! Looking forward to them all. And I envy you the research trips!

Find more about Danny at his own website, Danny Lansing Adventures, and follow Matt on Twitter!


  1. I must say, Jim, I really enjoyed answering these questions - they were really original and thought provoking!
    Matt Cartney

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