The edgy new Ali Sparkes thriller for older readers
You know you’re having a bad day when you get hauled back into school by the head teacher to do a test, long after everyone else has gone home. It’s a stupid test in a stupid school… and another stupid student is there too, just to annoy you even more. But hey – it’s just one more loser day at Oakwood Academy. What did you expect?
Well… maybe not a bullet smashing through the window and dropping your head teacher to the floor. And definitely not a team of masked assassins sweeping the school to eliminate any witnesses. Now you’re stuck in the girls’ toilets with nowhere left to run…
Can bad boy Elliot survive if he calls on all the tricks he’s learned on Xbox combat games? Will bolshie Shania use her famous attitude to fight back against impossible odds? Or is this detention terminal..?
Q. This is a bit different to your other books. What’s going on?!
A. Yeah… it is. This is the first of what I hope will be a trilogy of thrillers, aimed at older readers in secondary schools. I wanted to write something about a pair of misfit characters who both seem like a dead loss at school, but who are actually, underneath all the issues, strong and brave and resourceful.
Q. This is an independent book. Why have you gone that route?
A. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for ages. My usual publishers are the very brilliant Oxford Children’s Books - but this was never going to be the right fit for them. And two very dear and clever friends really wanted to get involved with a fun project with me, so we decided to create Coven Publishing – a bit like a tiny independent record label! – and just put Death By Detention out there to see what happens.
Q. Death by Detention looks pretty gritty. Does that worry you?
A. It’s actually not that different to my other stories; it’s just that the characters are very edgy and their language reflects that. Although let me make it clear; this isn’t peppered with swear words. There are a handful of mild swears… the rest you can work out for yourself. Guns in schools are a very sensitive issue right now, of course, but this book isn’t about terrorism or high school shoot outs. It has more in common with classic thrillers like Young James Bond and Alex Rider.
Q. So what age would you say this is suitable for?
A. I think 11+. But some nine-year-olds will read it and not blink. It’s a matter for parents and librarians to decide.
Q. How could you let a head teacher get shot?
A. Just let me say this: he is the coolest head teacher I have ever written. Stick with me here…