Wooooot! Patrick’s standalone YA novella, The Dinosaur Hunters, is out today! I love this story SO MUCH. It’s a witty, exciting Agatha Christie-style mystery set on Regency Mars WITH DINOSAURS and a fabulous cross-dressing heroine. It is absolutely my catnip!
You can read my full Goodreads review here, but as a quick sum-up, I’ll just say: I feel 100% confident that if you enjoyed my Kat books, you will LOVE The Dinosaur Hunters!
So I asked Patrick to do a guest blog for me here, so I could share an excerpt of the piece with you guys. Here he is!
When I wrote my first novel, Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, and its sequel, The Emperor of Mars (due out next year), I got to do one of the things I love doing most: building a whole world, with its own history, alien creatures, and strange technology. Being able to create such a wild, unlikely, and (hopefully) believable world gave me the chance to let my creativity run free, as well as to pay homage to some of the books and stories that I most loved when I was a teenager.
Even though my characters don’t encounter it all in the novels, I had great fun with this version of Mars. There are great swathes of the world they don’t visit and of history which they don’t know about or which they completely misunderstand. And the wonderful thing about creating a world like this is that it cries out for more stories. My characters in Secrets of the Dragon Tomb and The Emperor of Mars are dealing with the biggest events of their era and uncovering completely unexpected secrets.
But out there, other people are having adventures. They’re dealing with their own crises, tracking down murderers and thieves, and discovering their own secrets. That’s why I decided to write The Dinosaur Hunters, and why I’ll probably write more novellas in this world.
In the novels, dinosaurs are oddly absent. There are pterodactyls and plesiosaurs, but no actual dinosaurs. So now it’s time for us to visit those dinosaurs and get caught up in a deadly conspiracy. Welcome to The Dinosaur Hunters.
Harriet George had been dressed as a boy for the last week, and she still wasn’t sure her brother-in-law had noticed.
“The thing is, Harry old thing,” the Honorable Bertrand Simpson said as he hunched morosely over his twelfth cup of tea that morning, “disguises are such dashed confusing things. Can’t tell if a chap is a chap or, you know, another chap.” He stirred his tea listlessly.
It had never been entirely clear to Harriet how her brother-in-law had managed to work his way up to the post of Inspector in the Tharsis City Police Service. As far as Harriet could tell, Bertrand had never solved a single case in his entire life.
Unfortunately, Harriet suspected that she wasn’t the only one who had figured that out. It was the only reason she could think of as to why Bertrand had been given the job of capturing the Glass Phantom. The Glass Phantom had evaded police forces in France, Austria, Britain, and Chinese Mars. He’d helped himself to the Crown of Charlemagne from under the nose of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard and had stolen the Orlov Diamond from the Imperial Scepter of Catherine the Great. No one with an ounce of common sense would risk their career tracking down such a notorious and difficult-to-catch jewel thief.
Which was why Bertrand, who wouldn’t have recognized an ounce of common sense if it had fallen into his morning tea, had leapt on the offer like a piranha-mouse on a stray muffin.
Bertrand came from a good family – his father was the fifth Baron Heatherstone – but his family’s estates on Earth had long ago been sold off to pay their debts. Bertrand’s father had brought the family to Mars to seek his fortune on a new world, but it hadn’t made any difference, and Bertrand scarcely had a penny to his name. In his position, he should have married a young lady with a good dowry. Instead, he’d married Harriet’s older sister, Amy. If it hadn’t been for Bertrand’s job, Harriet was certain they would have starved within the year.
And then, five years ago, Harriet and Amy’s parents had died, and Amy and Bertrand had taken Harriet in. She knew it had been hard for them, and she knew they’d given up a great deal for her. She owed them everything.
When Bertrand failed to catch the Glass Phantom, he would lose his job and it would be an absolute disaster for them all.
Harriet would not allow that to happen.
“You know, the Glass Phantom might not actually be in disguise,” Harriet said, trying to cheer her brother-in-law up. “I mean, why would he?”
Bertrand groaned. “That makes it even worse. If he’s not in disguise, how am I going to tell who he’s not disguising himself as?”
Which, Harriet thought, summed up rather neatly why her brother-in-law never actually caught anyone.
To make matters worse, now that Harriet had turned sixteen, Amy was determined to make a good marriage for her, a prospect that Harriet regarded with complete horror. Within a year – two at the most – she would be expected to “come out” in Society, find a husband, and live the life he chose for her. She was already thoroughly fed up with the bother of being a girl, and this was the final straw. She’d never seen the point of sewing or playing the pianoforte or endless, tedious social visits to neighbors, and what was more, she had very little interest in young gentlemen. If she was entirely honest, very few young gentlemen showed any interest in her, either. But Amy had set her heart on Harriet marrying well. She seemed to think she owed it to their late parents, and Harriet couldn’t live off Bertrand’s generosity forever, particularly if he lost his job.
Which left Harriet with only one option: she would have to solve the case for Bertrand, and she would have to prove to her sister that she could support herself without a husband.
The dinosaur hunt was the perfect opportunity.
Patrick Samphire started writing when he was fourteen years old and thought it would be a good way of getting out of English lessons. It didn’t work, but he kept on writing anyway. He has lived in Zambia, Guyana, Austria and England. He now lives with his wife, Steph, and their two children in Wales, U.K. He has published almost twenty short stories for adults and writes fun, funny, exciting books for middle grade readers. His first novel was Secrets of the Dragon Tomb.