Our Macaw subscribers are heading to Jamaica this month with The Haunting of Tyrese Walker, a thrilling ghost story that had us on the edge of our seats! Londoner Tyrese is visiting family on the island when some very dark and mysterious things start happening to him. Gripped by grief following the death of his father, Tyrese finds the lines between what is real and what is not becoming blurred - but some new friendships and hidden strengths come to the rescue, and he learns much about himself and what he is capable of in the process. We asked author J.P. Rose to tell us more about the inspiration behind the book and which spooky books for young teens she recommends you read next.
What inspired you to write The Haunting of Tyrese Walker?
Years ago, I heard the stories of the Duppies – ghosts – for the first time from my family. I’d sat and listened to the wonderful stories surrounding Jamaican Folklore, and I knew even back then that one day I wanted to write about them and share these incredible stories somehow. Then years later my mum died, and it was a very difficult time for me. It got me thinking about how a young person might feel if they were going through it, and that’s where the beginnings of the idea of Tyrese came into my mind. As time went on it began to form a larger space in my head and I thought how interesting it would be to write a supernatural horror book and mix it with Jamaican folklore, alongside the themes of grief and mental health, and setting it in an isolated place in Jamaica.
We love the setting! Can you tell us a bit more about what (and where) influenced it?
The Blue Mountains of Jamaica is an incredible area set away from the bustle of the tourists. I thought it was a perfect place to set it as it’s true rural Jamaica and can be very isolated, which was the perfect setting to base the story. It sets the atmosphere and really gives a strong flavour of Jamaica. I wanted to show Jamaica as a character in itself and really celebrate the country as well as making it feel really claustrophobic and creepy.
Are any of the characters based on real people or events?
The essence and the warmth of some of the characters are based on a mix of people I know and have met over the years, but no-one specifically. The Duppies are inspired by Jamaican Folklore, some are made up by me, others are well known Duppies in Jamaican culture.
We were really struck by the relationship between the three main characters. What do you think would have happened to Tyrese without Marvin and Ellie?
Gosh, I think he would have been in even bigger trouble than he was! The importance and the influence of their friendship was vital for Tyrese, helping him see things differently. Having someone to talk to and share feelings with is fundamentally important at anytime, but especially when life is difficult.
Can you tell us anything about what the future holds for Tyrese?
I think Tyrese will grow as a person and continue being strong and brave, considerate and loving. I think he will be an amazing friend to others and learnt a lot about himself.
Why did you choose to write books for this age group?
The teen/YA age group is really important to me as it’s such an amazing point of life, but it can be extremely difficult at times navigating through those years, and I wanted to write books that teens can connect to. Reading is such a great pastime and I feel very lucky to write books for young people.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
In my office with my dog and cats. I’ve got it set up just how I like it, though sometimes when I am writing long hours, I close my computer and go and write in another place, but with a pen and paper which is something I love to do. At other times I might take my note pad and pen and go and sit by a stream or with my horses in a field. There’s something very tranquil about doing that, though my favourite place in the whole world to write is by an ocean listening to the waves.
Which other fantasy or ghost stories for young teens would you recommend our subscribers read next?
A book I’ve just loved recently is Waking the Witch by Rachel Burge, it’s very spooky and is set on a remote Welsh isle, which will send chills down the reader’s spine. Another great book is Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe, which weaves a modern fable with witchcraft and superstition
Copies of our The Haunting of Tyrese Walker pack, including a copy of the book and loads of fun activities to go with it, are now available for individual purchase. Grab a copy while stocks last!
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