Happy Friday and welcome to my stop on the KIDNAP ON THE CALIFORNIA COMET blog tour! I’m so excited because today I have an interview with M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman to share with you! This book is truly amazing and I’m so so excited to for you to find out more about it, PLUS enter for a chance to win a print copy!
Kidnap on the California Comet by M.G. Leonard, Sam Sedgman
Series: Adventures on Trains #2
Published by Feiwel & Friends on February 23, 2021
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Mystery
In this second book of the middle-grade Adventures on Trains series, amateur sleuth Hal Beck travels to the U.S. with his uncle to ride a famous train—the California Comet—and stumbles on a new mystery to solve, in M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman's Kidnap on the California Comet...
After his adventure on the Highland Falcon, amateur sleuth Hal Beck is excited to embark on another journey with his journalist uncle. This time, they're set to ride the historic California Comet from Chicago to San Francisco.
Hal mostly keeps to himself on the trip, feeling homesick and out of place in America. But he soon finds himself drawn into another mystery when the young daughter of a billionaire tech entrepreneur goes missing!
Along with new friends—spunky 13-year-old Mason and his younger sister, Hadley—Hal races against the clock to find the missing girl before the California Comet reaches its final destination.
What would you do if you spent the day with hal? Where would you go to eat, hang out, relax, etc.?
Sam: I live in London, which is a fantastic place to be if you love trains. If Hal came to visit, I’d take him on the Underground, pointing out the empty platforms in the tunnels of the abandoned tube stations like Down Street and British Museum. We’d go to the London Transport Museum, which has lots of artifacts of the city’s railways. We’d have lunch on the Strand, and visit the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square – Hal loves to draw, and so I think he’d leap at the chance to see some of the amazing work on display there. He has a knack for capturing the important details of a scene in his sketches, which turn out to be vital clues in solving the mysteries he encounters on his adventures.
M.G.: I would love to bring Hal to Brighton where I live, and take him to my local steam heritage railway, which is called The Bluebell Railway. It’s quite famous in the UK because it is often used for film and tv shoots. Anytime you see a train in Downton Abbey, it’s the Bluebell Railway. We’d drink tea and have bacon sandwiches and then, after we’d had a ride on the trains, I’d take him along the sea front on the miniature railway. I hope he’d do lots of drawings, and let me choose one to keep when I buy him fish and chips for tea.
If hal were to hang out with characters from other books, who would they be and why?
Sam: Like any good traveler, Hal has no trouble making new friends. One of my favourite parts of writing this series has been introducing him to new children on each journey who help him on his adventures. I think he would really enjoy hanging out with the Baudelaire children from A Series of Unfortunate Events – I think he would enjoy how brilliantly practical they are. And I think he would nearly die of excitement if he ever got to meet Sherlock Holmes. I think the two of them might get on rather well.
M.G.: I feel like Hal would get on very well with Hugo From Brian Selznik’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. He would love to explore the secret places in Gare du Nord station in Paris, and Hugo’s ability with clockwork things would fascinate Hal. They could invent things together and watch the trains coming and going in the station.
What is your favorite quote, scene, or moment from kidnap on the california comet?
Sam: There is a billionaire in the book who travels in a private rail carriage at the back of the train, with an office, a lounge, a conference room and bedroom. I love the idea of a private rail car and often find myself imagining what I would put in my own if I were lucky enough to have one. I think probably a jacuzzi and a big table for playing board games on. And a library, of course, with a cosy place to read by a big window where I could watch the world trundling past.
M.G.: I love Mason and Hadley’s magic show for Hal, in their compartment. They are such a great sister/brother team and spending time with them is a joy. I also love the scene where Frank brings them all pizza.
Would you rather be a superhero or a supervillain? And what would your powers and name be?
Sam: The only superpower I’ve ever wanted is the ability to click my fingers and instantly find myself in my pyjamas, in bed with my teeth brushed and clothes folded neatly away. I keep trying but it never seems to happen. But as that’s neither heroic or villainous, I’ll settle for being The Librarian, a mythic hero who can jump in and out of books. I’ll sneak into villains’ lairs through their books, fighting them with an army of ogres and trolls I’ve brought from fantasy novels, before trapping the bad guys in a very distressing Kafka novel. Or perhaps I’ll visit their childhoods through their diaries, and make sure they never turn into nasty villainous people in the first place.
M.G.: I am drawn to supervillains, ever since I created Lucretia Cutter in my Beetle Boy books. She’s part insect and is driven by an extreme political agenda. They are a lot of fun to create and because they believe utterly in what they are doing, and have no conscience, they can do wild things. However, the sad truth is that I’ve too much empathy to be a villain and am more likely to be a self-sacrificing superhero. If I could choose a super power it would be to communicate with all living things from animals to trees. I’d be able to help prevent mass extinction and climate change.
If you were trapped on a tropical island and you could choose 3 books to take with you, which 3 would you choose?
Sam: I would choose Maskerade by Terry Pratchett, because although I’ve read it 20 times already I never tire of it. It’s a cracking murder mystery, fantasy, comedy, satire and adventure, and it’s the book I turn to whenever I need a boost. I’ll also pick The Complete Oxford English Dictionary, (all 26 volumes), partly because I’ll have plenty of time to broaden my vocabulary, and partly because I’ll be in dire need of kindling for a fire and some thin pages to use as toilet paper. I’ll also take How to Build a Boat by Jonathan Gornell, because I’ll need a project.
M.G.: I would take Homer’s Odyssey because it’s such an epic story that I would never tire of, and it was originally told orally, so I could try and learn it by heart. My second book would be Alice in Wonderland, as it makes me laugh, and it puzzles me. My third book would be an encyclopedia of plants and flowers, in the hope that I could grow food and learn about the flora and fauna on the island.
What was your favorite bit of research you ended up not using?
Sam: We always build our stories from research about the real world, because we often find things that happened in real life are far more interesting than anything we could make up ourselves. I’m obsessed with the way that railways changed the way we measure time – the idea of a national, standardized time zone only became necessary when you could move quickly between towns. Before then, each town set its own time by the sun. For a while, towns would have two times on their clocks – local time, and ‘railway time’. Often these were ten or fifteen minutes apart, with extra hands on clock faces to show it.
M.G.: There’s a lot of interesting information about the California Zephyr’s route through the Rocky Mountains and the landscape, the weather and the number of tunnels it has to pass through, that got seriously whittled down because this is the part of the plot where the pace quickens and there’s not enough space for lots of facts.
ABOUT M.G. LEONARD
M. G. Leonard is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Beetle Boy books. She works as a freelance digital media producer for clients such as the National Theatre and Harry Potter West End. She lives in Brighton with her husband and two sons, all of whom are crazy about trains. She is the co-author of the Adventures on Trains series.
ABOUT SAM SEDGMAN
Sam Sedgman is a novelist, playwright, and award-winning digital producer. He works as a digital project manager for the National Theatre, where he also hosts and co-produces their podcast. He grew up with a railway line at the bottom of his garden and has been fascinated by trains ever since. He is the co-author of the Adventures on Trains series.
What do you think about KIDNAP ON THE CALIFORNIA COMET? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!