Norwich is the setting for an action adventure
Secret codes, fast-moving action, intrigue and mystery – and much of it happens right here in Norwich. Abigail Saltmarsh speaks to Wymondham author Kate Anders about Ninian Fire – Double Dutchman.
With two grown-up children and years of experience as a language teacher, Kate Anders is only too familiar with the adventures of children.
Now, however, she has put pen to paper and has written her own trilogy of children's tales – all set right here in the city.
Ninian Fire – Double Dutchman was published earlier this month and its sequel, Ninian Fire – Fool's Gold, comes out later this year.
The fast-moving, action adventures focus on Ninian Fire, a boy who is crazy about codes and languages, and who lives in the centre of Norwich.
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The short chapters and fast-paced style is designed to draw youngsters in, encouraging them to read and to become excited about language.
'I started writing stories as a child and have done creative writing for a number of different companies,' said Kate, 57, who lives in Wymondham, and has taught for more than 30 years.
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'I have done quite a lot of other writing over the years as well, and thought Norwich would be a great place to set a children's story.
'I wanted to encourage children to become more interested in learning foreign languages, and I thought that bringing language into a novel like this, and using codes, could do that.'
Ninian Fire – Double Dutchman begins as its hero and his cousins, Tabi and Miles, enjoy what they think is a harmless game.
Ninian's parents run a language school and the trio amuse themselves following some of the students who come to learn English.
However, with the arrival of a coded message, the innocent amusement quickly develops into something far more dangerous.
Soon they are in the midst of an exciting adventure involving international criminals – and the intrepid group, who call themselves the Ignis Investigators, decide they will attempt to crack the case.
As the kidnapping and mysterious disappearances take place, and the codes need to be unravelled, the reader is also swept through the streets of Norwich.
'There are several scenes that very clearly take place in Norwich,' said Kate. 'The Forum features, as does a well-known hotel in the city, for example.
'The children live right in the city centre so there are a lot of well-known landmarks.'
Despite her books being fiction, Kate wanted her tales to have an air of realism, she stressed.
'I think it makes them come alive much more if you use specific places. I obviously know Norwich very well and it was therefore fun deciding which places to bring in,' she explained.
'Of course there will always be a place for fantasy fiction, but personally I've always enjoyed the realistic kind of adventure most – because it just might happen to you!'
And she added: 'With Ninian Fire, readers can go to the Forum, the market or the airport – and imagine everything happening to them.'
Before moving to Norfolk, Kate, whose husband is Dutch, lived in The Netherlands for seven years. This, she said, also gave her inspiration for The Double Dutchman story.
'There are also some facts and elements of my family life included in there but mostly the stories are made up,' she stressed.
The exciting denouement of the first book, which is aimed at youngsters aged eight to 11, takes place at Norwich International Airport.
But the action then continues in Ninian Fire – Fool's Gold, due to be published on June 11.
'The second one starts at the station, after Tabi spies a mysterious musician on a train. Some of the action then takes place in the cathedral,' said Kate, who now works as a freelance language teacher.
'The third book is already in the pipeline too, although this does not have a title yet. But it will take place in Norwich as well and should be out before Christmas.'
Kate, who hopes to visit primary schools in Norfolk to read her books, and to encourage children to see the fun in foreign languages, has listed some fun facts about Norwich on the Ninian Fire website.
As well as inspiring children to read and learn languages, she also hopes to generate more of an interest in the city.
'Although we live in Wymondham, I know Norwich very well and I love it as a city,' she said.
'It was fun to be able to include so many places here and to use the city as a setting. I think Norwich really deserves it.'
Ninian Fire – Double Dutchman is published by Elca Media, priced �4.99. For more information on the book, or on obtaining a copy, visit www.ninianfire.com.