Author Interview – Lan Harlow

July 4, 2019 9:03 am

We spoke to author, Lan Harlow, about his children’s mystery novel ‘My Treasure’ which is now available through Amazon, Waterstones and all good booksellers.

What is the book about?

The book is about a young boy who with help from his friends, solves the clues to get the hidden treasure so he can get his parents back home.

Who are the main characters?

Lowell is the main character of the story but I would like to think the whole cast were equally involved has they all work together.

What is the main message or theme of the book?

The main message is friendship and working together which runs through the whole story.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

The idea for the book came from when my grandson Lowell was born I don’t know if it was adrenaline or what but I could not stop writing.

What will readers enjoy most about your latest work?

It is my first book I have written and a follow on to the story a second book if you like, I would like people to think of when they were children and enjoyed themselves playing with their friends.

What do you think is the secret to a good mystery?

I think if you can keep something going so people keep reading you may have done something good.

How is writing for children different to writing for adults?

As I said before it is my first book and I think children will tell you if they like it or not they do speak their mind.

What inspired you to start writing?

My grandson inspired me I was in a very happy place and I was writing little bits all the time.

What is your favourite book (apart from your own) and why?

l don’t have a favourite book or author if people can write and make a story then they are all heroes.

How long did your manuscript take to complete?

The manuscript started from when Lowell was born in December 2015 I finished it in March the following year I wrote it out several times and I let a few people read it from work and they enjoyed it some of them told me to get it published and so I did.

Did you suffer from writer’s block? If so what advice do you have for other authors who are struggling?

I did not suffer from writers block but with what I went through I would say take a step back and it will come back to you.

How did you find the editing process?

The editing process was a bit daunting after never doing this before but with the help from the people at Spiderwize they helped me with this.

What was the inspiration for the cover design and how did you settle on the final look?

My son’s next door neighbour was taking art at school and I asked her if she could picture my grandson a little bit older and looking out to sea. She did a very good job I think. I asked my family which one of the three pictures they preferred and most of them went with the one you see.

How did you find the process of self-publishing with Spiderwize/BookPrinting UK?

Spiderwize has been very good and I am not just saying that. Another publisher was after the book. They even sent me the contracts to sign but I wanted it to stay in England.

Any tips or advice for other authors out there wanting to Self Publish? 

Anybody who wants to have a go at self publishing should have a go and don’t look back. You will always be saying to yourself ‘what if?’


Extract from the book:

I Lowell sat on the rocks of Sennen cove, where seven years earlier my family had moved to.  My father Lance was a retired navy captain and my mother Shelley was a teaching assistant at the local school. 

“Cub-Cub!” a shout went out from behind me.  I turned round, and it was Jessica, a girl from my local school.  Jessica was more like a boy than a girl, and I liked her. 

“Hello Jessica, what do you want”?

“Your father is looking for you.  He said if I saw you to tell you to go to the mooring.” 

The mooring was the local parking for the boats of the fishermen, and where we kept our boat.  Our boat was only 20 foot long, but it did what we wanted it to do and it slept all three of us when we went on our holidays.  They called it My Treasure.  My Treasure was my father’s pride and joy, after me and my mum.  My father was very protective of us; he always told us to protect your rear, and my mum said it was an old Navy saying to protect your back. 

My mum was a tolerant lady and always calm and smiling. Maybe it’s because of all the children she looked after.  My mother always said there are no naughty children, just challenging ones.

While Jessica and I were walking down to the mooring, we noticed two men running from the village.  We did not recognise them and thought they must be tourists.  We get a lot of tourists this time of year. 

As we got closer to the moor, as we call it, Jessica said, “I’ll see you later cub,” and I walked onto the moor. 

Philip, an old lance corporal in the Army, was walking towards me. He gave me a high-five and said, “How you doing Cub?”

I replied, “Fine sir,” with a good salute. 

As we passed each other, I turned around to face him and he smiled and said, “Your father is preparing the boat.”

I said, “Yes that is why I am here.”

As I got to the boat, my father was waiting for me, and I jumped off the moor into my father’s arms.

“Can you help me shipmate?” my father said.

“Of course, Captain,” I replied.  We were just stocking up on food and blankets as we were going on holiday in two days’ time. 7th August, the day of my father’s birthday.

Whilst we were getting things ready, my father’s phone rang, and my father just looked at the number and said, “It’s mum ringing, probably to tell us tea is ready.” My father turned around and carried on folding blankets.

About ten minutes later, Sarah, who is the local busy body who knew everything about everybody, came running along the mooring in a panic. “Lance, cub!” she shouted, “You need to get home, something is wrong.”

My father suddenly dropped everything and grabbed my hand, and we jumped off the boat and started to run up the mooring.  We got on my father’s scooter and zoomed off in a hurry. It was only five minutes from the house, but the journey seemed ages, as I was wondering what was wrong.  We arrived at our garden gate, and there was my mother sat crying on the bench in the front garden.  My father ran up to my mother, knelt down in front of her, held her hand and softly asked what was wrong.

My mother looked up at my father with her eyes filled with tears and quietly said, “Look in the room.”  My father turned and said to me with a slight panic in his voice, “You stay here, cub.”

I quickly ran to my mother’s side and together watched my father go into the house.  After a few minutes, I slowly crept into the house. I turned to the room, and there I noticed my father was picking up a few things.

I said, “Is everything okay, Father?”

He began to say, “I have always told you to protect your rear,” which we finished off saying together.  I then went on to ask, “What’s wrong, Dad?”

My father looked at me seriously and said, “Look Cub, I think it’s time you knew. Come, sit down.”

As I sat down, my father continued. “This was not a normal break in, they were after something.”

I said, “Who, what?!”

He said, “Maybe you are too young, but I do need to tell you something.”

At that moment, we heard a creak on the floor. We looked round, and there was my mum stood in the doorway with her shoulders down crying, “Why us?”

Dad asked her to go into the kitchen and make a cup of tea, which was my dad’s answer to everything.  As my mother walked away, Dad then turned to me and said, “Mum does not need to know or worry, and this conversation is for me and you only, Cub.”

I nodded and said, “Okay.”

Dad cuddled me, stood up and walked into the kitchen to my mum.  I was sat, a little confused and not knowing what was going on. As I sat back in the chair and looked up, I noticed hanging on the wall, but on a slant, was a photo of my dad, Philip and someone else who I did not recognise.  I stood up, put the picture level and walked into the kitchen.

Dad was stood with his arms around Mother, and he told her that nothing looked like it had gone missing from the house.  Then, suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door and a recognisable voice.

“Is everything alright?”

It was Sarah. She let herself into the house and turned into the room. “Crikey, what a mess.”

My father walked from the kitchen and met Sarah at the room door and said, “Everything is okay, Sarah.”

“Do you want me to clean the room for you?” Sarah replied.

My father then said, “No, no Sarah. Thank you, we have got it.”  My father put his hands on Sarah’s shoulders and turned her to walk her out of the house. 

Sarah looked over her shoulder and said, “If you need me to help you, Shelley, you know where I am.”

My mother smiled in her usual way and said, “Thank you, Sarah, you are so kind.” 

As Sarah was going down the garden path, Jessica passed her coming to the house. She came straight into the house and asked me what was wrong.

My father then looked at us both and told us, “Go out and play so me and your mother can tidy up.”

Jessica and I began to walk to the village green, which was over the road from our house.  There were other boys and girls playing football and other games.  As we got to the edge of the village green, we noticed the two men who were running from the village earlier that day. They were stood waiting at the bus stop.  We sat on the grass and started talking, but I couldn’t help but look at the two men at the bus stop, and I noticed they kept looking at us.

As the bus came, I stood up, and Jessica said, “What’s wrong?”

I said “It’s those runners from the village earlier.”

Jessica said, “Yes, it is. So what?”

I looked at Jessica and said, “I don’t know, something just seems weird.” 

As the bus pulled up, Sylvia, a retired school teacher, got off the bus from her weekly shop into town, and I noticed I did not see anyone get on the bus. But as the bus started to drive away, the two men were gone. 

I pointed over to where they were sat and said, “Look Jess, the two men have gone.”

She said, “Who?”

I said, “The two runners. They did not get on the bus. Where are they?”

As I pulled Jessica to walk with me towards the bus shelter, my father shouted from our gate, “Cub, come on, come in for a bite to eat.”

I turned to Jessica and said, “I have to go. Will I see you in the morning?”

“Yes,” she nodded.

“Will you come down to My Treasure?” I asked.

Jessica started to walk away, saying, “Of course I will. See you in the morning about 10 o’clock.”

The next day when I woke up, I ran down the stairs and I noticed my mum had finished tidying the room.

My mum shouted from the kitchen, “Come on, have some breakfast, and then we will go help your father at the boat.”

“I don’t want anything, Mum,” I replied. I quickly ran out of the house and got on to my bike and started to ride down to the mooring.  It’s Thursday, it’s always busy here. A mobile shop comes to the village, and everyone seems to always buy something from him.  I must have said “hello” and “morning” more than 50 times. It was a beautiful day as the sun was shining, and I couldn’t wait as we were going on holiday tomorrow.

As I got to My Treasure, I could see my father waiting for me, and I said to him, “Permission to come aboard, Captain?”

“Permission always granted,” he replied with a smile on his face.  My father’s face was a lot happier than the day before. 

I stepped aboard, and I said, “Father, yesterday you wanted to talk. Can we talk now?”

He took me by the hand and led me down below.  He closed the curtains and said, “Listen Cub, I have a secret to tell you.  The house yesterday, it was not a normal burglary. They were looking for a map.”

“A map, Dad? What do you mean, a map?” I asked. 

“A map, Cub. A map that leads you to treasure.  Do you understand what I’m saying?” my father said.

“I think so, Dad, but why our house?” I asked.

My father looked at me and said, “When I was in the Navy, I came across an old World War Two treasure by mistake.”

“Treasure, Dad? What was it?”