Budding British teenage author the ‘new J.K. Rowling’?

June 8th, 2008 - 10:05 am ICT by IANS  

London, June 8 (DPA) According to literary pundits, she is a name to watch: Catherine Banner, who jotted down ideas for her first novel during school lessons when she was 14, has just published her first book. Now 19 and heading for Cambridge University to study English, Banner’s fantasy novel, The Eyes of a King, is tipped to become a bestseller, according to publishers Random House.

The book, the first in a trilogy, depicts “young people and their adventures in a world of magic,” and, with Banner already on the third instalment, there is talk of a film version.

Some reports have hailed her as the new J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter. “It’s a real honour being compared to J.K. Rowling and pretty daunting,” Banner told the London Daily Mail newspaper.

The Eyes of a King tells the story of 15-year-old Leo, whose prospects in life are limited. He attends military school, lives with his fearful grandmother, and looks after his brother.

Leo constantly resists his innate powers, because those who demonstrate any sort of magical ability are considered enemies of the state.

But, when he finds a blank book in the snow, his indifference melts away. From the first moment he touches the book, he senses its strange power.

Passages reveal family secrets and tell the story of teenagers Ryan and Anna in a fictional country - a fusion of England and Malonia.

When Leo’s path takes a tragic turn, he finds himself on a journey from which he can never return.

As he loses touch with reality, Ryan and Anna’s story of an idyllic summer romance - seemingly worlds away from Leo - comes to the forefront.

“It was just a bit of fun. I had an idea for a story so I wrote it down to see how it would turn out,” Banner said about her initial part-time jottings.

“I wrote in any available time I had - sometimes I was even noting down a few sentences at the back of the class or in between lessons so as not to forget them,” she wrote on the Random House website.

“I think that it was a good way to learn to write. It means everything you put down on paper has to be thought out first,” said.

She also revealed that, when she was small, one of her favourite games was to staple together sheets of paper and make them into a book with stories and pictures.

Her favourite books were The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, and later, To Kill a Mockingbird, the famous novel by Harper Lee.

“Reading and writing at its best and most honest was one of the things that most inspired me to want to write myself.”

The Eyes of the King, Banner wrote, began with the voice of Leo.

“It came to me so clearly that I wanted to write it down and try and capture that voice somehow,” she wrote.

Banner said she was often asked why she wrote a story set in an alternative world.

“I think all writers are describing parallel worlds in a way because writing is often about how to find a new way of seeing things.”

The greatest challenge for her to find “the most honest way” of putting ideas into words. “That is what is at the heart of writing for me.”

Banner, who will start at university in her home town of Cambridge in September, says she hopes to continue writing, but thinks that her fourth book will be “quite different.”

“She is a remarkable talent and definitely a writer to watch,” said Lauren Buckland of Random House Children’s Books.

“She has created a brilliant book…with a real sense of adventure which leaves the reader wanting to know more. She may even take on JK Rowling,” said Buckland.

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