Book Review, Interview, Middle Grade Fiction

Arctic Star ~ Q&A with Tom Palmer

Multi-award-winning author Tom Palmer returns with a thrilling naval adventure inspired by the incredible history of the Second World War Arctic convoys.
Winter 1942. Teenagers Francis, Joseph and Stephen are Royal Navy recruits on their first mission at sea during the Second World War. Their ship is part of an Arctic convoy sailing to Russia to deliver supplies to the Soviets. The convoys have to navigate treacherous waters, sailing through a narrow channel between the Arctic ice pack and German bases on the Norwegian coast. Faced with terrifying enemy attacks from both air and sea, as well as life-threatening cold, gales and pack ice, will all three boys make it home again? 

I am thrilled to share an exclusive interview with Tom Palmer to celebrate the publication of Arctic Star with Barrington Stoke.

1. You write so many fascinating, powerful war stories. Why this story?

Thanks for saying so. This one comes from my wife. She used to work aboard HMS Belfast and knows a lot about the history of the ship and it’s crucial involvement in the Battle of North Cape. Also, I’ve done books about the Army and the RAF and – to be honest – saw the lack of naval books for children to be a gap in the market that I could fill.

2. What is the significance of the title, Arctic Star?

It was going to be called At Sea. But the publisher wasn’t keen. They liked The War at Sea. I didn’t. Then my wife suggested Arctic Star, which is the name of the medal given to the men who served on the convoys. I am worried now that every answer I am going to give you in the Q&A is going to end up with me giving the credit to my wife.

3. Frank, Stephen and Joseph are such wonderful characters. Were they inspired by anyone in particular?

Yes. Not my wife. Frank and Joseph are made up, composite characters developed from interviews I listened to on the Imperial War Museum website. Stephen is different: he is based on a friend of mine who had a dark sense of humour. Not with us anymore, I wanted to bring him back to life for a bit.

4. As I read Arctic Star, I was struck by the human element of this war story. Sailors on both sides of the battle were real people. Why was it important to you to show this?

Yes. All those young men who chose or felt obliged or were forced to face death on land, in the air and at sea. British. German. Indian. Etc. It’s very hard to get my head round. That’s why I listen to them telling their own stories in their own voices to try to get it right.

5. There is so much detail in this book. How did you go about your research? What was the most interesting piece of information you found out?

The Imperial War Museum website had 10,000s interviews with those involved in war. You can search for what you want and spend hours with them. I read a few books and watched a few films, but that website is the best source by a mile. That’s why the book is dedicated to the museum. The most interesting thing was

6. What advice would you give to young people who want to be writers?

Go for it. Anyone from any background or place can be a writer. Write about what you are passionate about. Read lots of other authors. And don’t give up!

Join Barrington Stoke for An Evening with Tom Palmer and Dan Smith on Thursday 20th May at 6:30pm. Click here to book your place.

Arctic Star is available from Barrington Stoke, bookshops and online.

Click on the cover below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

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