Leamington writer invites readers into an unknown world of fantasy

A MAGICAL and dangerous world will transport readers to a place far removed from life as we know it in a new novel by a Leamington writer.

Former police officer Lance Manley has dedicted his second book, The Catastrophe of the Emerald Queen, to the memory of teenager Sophie Lancaster, who was murdered in Manchester in 2007 while he was a serving officer.

After quitting the job, Lance, who now lives in Regent Street in Leamington, qualified as a freelance journalist and wrote his first book, Stab Proof Scarecrows, about his time in the police - but in this second work, he turns his attention to fantasy.

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The 41-year-old said: “I had always wondered where people in comas go to. Sometimes they can be in a coma for years, yet they come out perfectly lucid. Where do they actually go? That question is where I got the inspiration from.”

The novel focuses on 11-year-old Sophie Roberts, who is in a coma in hospital following a car accident. When bored and curious Jared Miller, also 11, stumbles upon a monstrous assassin in her room, he and Sophie are saved only by the intervention of a warrior from the magical world of Alegria - a world linked to our own by Sophie and a world which is in dire peril as long as she remains in her coma.

Kidnapped and taken to Alegria, Jared is the only person that can save the kingdom from the evil King James and restore it to its former peaceful glory. But he is also the key that could bring an end to Alegria forever.

The novel, which is also dedicated to David Rathband, the police officer blinded by Raoul Moat who recently died, is also inspired by writers whose works Lance enjoyed as a child, including Enid Blyton and CS Lewis.

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Some of the book is set in Lance’s old school, St Mary’s Convent (now St Mary’s Primary School) in Southam, and it contains a character based partly on Sister Joseph Clare, who was headmistress while he was there, and partly on a chief inspector met during his time in the police.

He said: “I admired and looked up to both women very much. The book also has strong anti-bullying themes and stresses that violence can change people from who they really are. I was bullied myself as a child and I think all forms of bullying are disgusting.”

The novel, which is aimed at nine to 15-year-olds, is now available to download on Kindle and paper versions can be ordered online from the Amazon website.

People can also enter a raffle to win a signed copy of the book at the British Heart Foundation charity shop in Regent Street, Leamington, tomorrow (Saturday), with proceeds going to the charity.