The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham, by Stephan von Clinkerhoffen, won Gold for Best High School Series in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! Stig’s Flight of Encounters, one of the books in the series, also received Gold in the middle school general category.
Congratulations on your achievements! When did you first start writing?
It’s a bit of a long story.
We were quite happily living in Christchurch, on the South Island of New Zealand, when I began writing. About seven years ago Christchurch was hit by two massive earth quakes which destroyed our city and many thousands of homes. Surrounded by so much hurt and destruction I found it almost impossible to carry on my job as an artist painting beautiful landscapes.
I Googled “volunteering Christchurch” and soon found myself volunteering full time, first for the Civil Defence then for the NZ Red Cross. Assessing the worst hit areas and helping those most in need.
But the artist in me needed an outlet so I started to paint large images of a fantasyland with a few sentences describing each one in a short story, kids loved it. Then the stories grew and in no time at all I had started to write my first book Stig’s Flight of Encounters. The title of the series comes from the twin cities of my home town Cheltenham in the United Kingdom and an imaginary city Drah-ham hence The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham. I found I could draw on the experiences that surrounded me; the poor living on a fractured land struggling to survive, and use it in the story of a young lad from a city of riches beyond belief where money was worthless. So the story developed book by book, painting by painting.
What’s the target age group for your books?
My series, The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham, is in three volumes. When I started to write the first book I was targeting 12 years and upwards but with each new book the age group has matured as have Stig and Meg, my main characters. Many of my readers are adults of fifty plus who like escapism and to take a break from reality. Can I call “young at heart” an age group?
Chess’s ed. note: Young at heart is a most acceptable age group, in my humble opinion.
What inspired your award-winning books?
When I was about nine or ten years old I remember being inspired by a teacher. He told me to follow my passion, and helped me a lot with my art which I loved more than anything else. He also enabled me to win an award at an art exhibition. I still have the prize, a dinosaur book. He is now a main character in my book, War of Chaos, playing a “Guard of Old”. My art and my writing feed from each other so I’m glad of his encouragement all those years ago.
Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.
The main character in the book series is Stig who is a “Reluctant Hero”. I also describe him with an old word from the 16th century: “Younker” denoting a young nobleman. I love that word.
Do you have plans to, or have you already, released audio editions of your books?
This is something I would like to do in the future. Can I put it on the bucket list?
Chess’s ed note: Yes, absolutely!
Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character?
I think that someone like Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), but in his younger days, would be good as the main character.
Do you illustrate your own books?
Yes, I do all of my own illustrations, to me it’s a major part of my writing, because all of my wildest machines start on a sketch pad, to make sure that they are plausible, and potentially could work. I was in engineering, prior to my career in art and then writing, and because of this I don’t have magic in my books. I like everything to work as it should or could do, even if it is from another planet. I find this inventing of new mechanical wonders very exciting.
I always find myself looking at new machines and studying their mechanisms.
Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?
I never read much at all, for several reasons, I like to be creative all the time, so I would rather be writing a book than reading one. Also, I would not want to plagiarise another author’s work so hopefully I will have a writing style of my own.
But that’s not to say I don’t hear of other authors or appreciate the work taken to write a book. I do love to watch a good sci-fi fantasy movie like Harry Potter, love that sort of thing.
Do you have any quirky writing habits?
I do like to put onomatopoeic words in italics. It seems to bring the sound of the word you are reading into the imaginative world of what you are seeing, in your mind’s eye. Early on my editors were in two minds about it, but now as it has progressed they have applauded it, many of my adult readers like it too.
There are a few images of my paintings in my books and at times my writing is an expression of these paintings in words.
I paint to music, but I write in silence.
How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?
Thank God I have a wife (Sally) who is very computer literate, she was also a sales person for quite a while. She has more experience at marketing etc. which I loathe. We know we need to do more promotions.
Sally is also my first port of call for editing, prior to professional editors, and helps with all those rewrites.
Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?
To all CLC winners I would like to say a big “Well Done!”
“Hats Off To You”, I know how hard and costly it’s been to get to this stage, so let’s all look to a bright future as authors, and as the ending of my first book says “My your beliefs travel with you wherever you are”.
Award winning author Stephan von Clinkerhoffen grew up close to the English Cotswolds, surrounded by nature and the region’s rich history. An engineer for twenty-five years, he spent ten years in the British aerospace industry.
Clinkerhoffen’s career influenced many of the inventions found in the Chelldrah-ham series, as did his time in New Zealand, where he served as a humanitarian volunteer in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.
An artist for the last thirty years, Clinkerhoffen has returned to England, where he rediscovered his love of local history—a love that permeates Belas Rift.
He has received praise and numerous awards for his writing from Literary Classics Book Awards, Kirkus Reviews, Readers’ Favorite, and ForeWord Clarion.
Stig is eager to test out his Spiral Drive, a power unit built for his clockwork plane. He’s so eager that he ignores his fellow inventor’s words of warning. It’s a decision that changes his life and tests whether he has enough fortitude and skill to survive.
Stephan von Clinkerhoffen’s City of Chelldrah-ham: Stig’s Flight of Encounters takes readers on a journey to Chelldrah-ham, the city of riches Stig calls home. They travel with him to strange and beautiful lands as his test flight goes astray and crashes into a wooden pod.
Stig’s trip back home isn’t going to be that easy. Soon he discovers bat-like creatures called the Bach that threaten the pod’s homeland. He escapes the encounter but will have plenty more to face.
Stig must rely on what he finds in nature and the help of new friends like Meg, whom he meets on his trek. He’s got his clockwork skills and a map that his father gave him. But is that enough to help him get back home?
Stig and his friends Arn and Baits head out of the city of Chelldrah-ham on a mission to Polandrea. Their task is to determine whether the battling Bach creatures still pose a threat.
Stig has his own plans to find and rescue his missing friend Meg in Polandrea. Baits, meanwhile, is tasked as a member of the Guard of Old to search for signs of their absent leader, Lillet. Little do they know the danger that awaits them.
Chelldrah-ham prepares for war when the trio finds evidence of recent battles, and Baits learns Lillet’s fate. Stig and his comrades must confront the Bach and learn their mysterious secret if he hopes to rescue Meg.
Stig, Arn, and Baits must rely on their inventions, each other, and their own ingenuity to survive on a harrowing journey through a magical fantasyland fraught with hidden dangers.
Mystical creatures, secret weapons, action, war, and romance—along with author’s own fantastical artwork—await in The Hidden City of Chelldrah-Ham: War of Chaos.
After the ferocious battle in War of Chaos, Stig and Meg pursue the evil Anet through a swirling interdimensional rift—and straight into new trouble.
On the other side of this portal, the two Manna find themselves in a world of giants and strange, ominous technology—a world that seems as obsessed with greed and gold as Anet herself. They’ve pursued their enemy to her homeland, a country known as England.
Alone and hunted by a terrifying flying machine, Stig and Meg find allies in the unlikeliest places, and they come to realize other Manna have made this trip between worlds before.
When their frantic search leads them to a golden temple hidden deep beneath the earth, Stig learns that fate ties him to this mysterious shrine. Unfortunately, the two Manna have bigger things to worry about. Anet knows Stig and Meg are in England, and she’s using all her resources to hunt them down. Stig’s ability to devise disastrous plans isn’t helping matters, but the Manna can’t afford to give up now. Anet is breeding new creatures to unleash on Chelldrah-ham, and it’s starting to look as if the Manna simply can’t stop her this time.
“Each of the three books in this magical collection are full of wonder and imagination with delightfully multi-faceted characters and a plot which keeps readers enthralled throughout this dynamic series. With a background in engineering and art, author Stephan von Clinkerhoffen lends a unique perspective to this enchanting series which he both wrote and illustrated.” —Literary Classics Book Awards
In addition to the above-linked titles, a color edition of Belas Rift is available for purchase on Amazon.