Christopher Hedgethorne on his unique young people’s novel Mosquito Mansion.
Friday 17th April 2015 10:22 Poet's Corner Posted by Anna Fletcher

mosquito mansion

 

Christopher Hedgethorne was so inspired after his first visit to Guyana in South America, he ended up penning his first novel aimed at young readers.

Mosquito Mansion and my misadventures in Mudland is set in the 1800s on a plantation in the Caribbean.

Christopher visited Guyana as it had been a lifelong dream to see the rainforest ever since reading Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’ as a child, but inspiration struck before he even made it past the town.

He said: “The place names seemed very curious, things like ‘Good Intent’ and ‘Success’ and lots of places called after women’s names; the police station was called Eve Leery. Nobody seemed to know why but I went to the national library to do some research and found out they were old plantation names.”

From here, Christopher spun his own world following 12-year-old Alexander Drabb, also known as Sandy, who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young slave girl, Quaneva, on his uncle’s plantation. The two find themselves swept up in a slave rebellion and unintentionally escaping together where they embark upon many daring adventures.

After spending some time with the main character of the book, it is hard to imagine him as anything else but Alexander, but Christopher says for a while he was named Tobias. On a re-write, however, he discovered the name did not quite fit anymore and changed it particularly for the connotations of Alexander the Great.

Christopher said: “There are very few, if any, children’s adventure stories set against a backdrop of slavery. I like to think of my book as a cross between Treasure Island and Gormenghast, so it is unlike anything children will have read before.”

Though this is his first novel, Christopher is not new to writing, having been involved from a young age. He has written and performed in radio plays and written short plays for festivals too.

On writing the novel he said: “It is different, it took me a while to plan and since that first visit to Guyana I have been nine more times. The novel was a bit of an exploration of myself as well which was interesting.”

Christopher is now working on a new novel set in the 1800s but with different characters, he is hoping to finish it before the year is through.

Mosquito Mansion and my misadventures in Mudland is out now.