By The Mole
While at Edinburgh International Book Festival I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Red, White and Black by Matt Cartney and I took the opportunity to put aside the book I was about to start to read this instead. I was halfway through and really enjoying it when I received a text from Matt, who had got my number via the publisher, asking if I would like to meet up and chat over a coffee.
I quickly jumped at the chance and met him at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society - a members only club where we could be sure of getting a seat at Fringe time. Matt, who works in Edinburgh, sees the Fringe every year and I asked him how he viewed it. He told me that locals sometimes see it as an opportunity for the city and at other times as an invasion.
I had heard that he had been going to Russia doing 'research' and had run intoa problem which he told me was due to a mechanical issue with his Landrover. But on the subject of research he told me how the things that Danny has done, Matt actually did first! In the current book Danny goes to a high Norwegian plateau to search for a plane and has to spend several nights camping in order to get there. Apart from not finding a plane, Matt made that trip taking photographs along the way. He also climbed Schneibstein (a mountain in Bavaria) that Danny climbs etc gathering photos along the way.
I was left wondering if this is what gives the Danny Lansing stories a special 'edge'.. a genuine 'Boys Own' feel that makes you want to get up and do it.
Matt explained that when doing school visits he takes a laptop and projector and uses some of the gathered research photos to illustrate his talks - it must be a rather special treat for the children!
The first book "Sons of Rissouli" was set in the deserts of Morocco; this, the second book "Red, White and Black" is set in the snows of Norway amongst other locations; the third book is (apparently and if I remember correctly) set in the jungles of Belize. The fourth was to be in Russia but... And now Matt is in Iceland so we will see and wait with bated breath.
Danny Lansing is a normal boy, albeit with an an investigative journalist uncle who is a little eccentric in how he looks after Danny after the death of Danny's parents - and perhaps he is every boys dream of how a guardian should behave?
I was very grateful to Matt for making time to see me and I sincerely hope that Danny goes on a great deal longer with his adventures.