Posted: 18th January 2017

Energetic, enthusiastic, engaging, encouraging – all this can be said of author Dave Rudden, based on our evening with him last Tuesday (17th January). Rudden’s novel ‘Knights of the Borrowed Dark’, the first of a trilogy, has captured the imaginations of the Book Club students who were in attendance. College Librarian, Jane O’Loughlin takes up the tale (so to speak)…

The fantasy novel, set in Ireland, centres on orphan Denizen Hardwick who, at thirteen, learns that he has an aunt, Vivian. He is taken to Dublin, an eventful journey to say the least, ending without the expectant warm welcome. Cold, hard and distant, Vivian is the commander of a branch of cavaliers known as the Knights of the Borrowed Dark who battle against ‘Tenebrous’, shapeshifting monsters of darkness, using numerous magical powers and weapons. The knights use the powers at a physical cost to themselves. Denizen is beginning to show signs that he too is developing powers of Knighthood, but has he got the interest, resilience, determination, altruism and restraint required? Will his aunt ever reveal the truth about his parents?

Rudden’s booming voice, humour and dramatic presentation of events and characters in the novel captivated the students. He spoke of his love of reading and journey into writing. He described the process from idea to published book. He revealed how changing the line spacing, font style and size once the initial draft is written helps his own proofreading and editing. He further highlighted the workings of editing by displaying the actual comments inserted on his initial Word document draft by his editor. He spoke about the importance of constructive criticism from friends. He told of his search for an agent, of rejection and finally the joy and affirmation of acceptance for publication.

The Q&A session which followed revealed more detail about the book and the writing process. The number of questions asked by the students and the level of questioning demonstrated the genuine interest that they have in Rudden’s work and in the writing process. Question of the night by Tom O’Sullivan (Elements), ‘What do you think has changed most from your first ideas of the book to how it turned out?’, won him a signed copy of the novel.

A short writing workshop followed, during which Rudden highlighted the four parts that exist in all narratives: Introduction, Complication, Climax and Resolution. He advised that students always keep this in mind when writing stories. He also emphasised that writing was like a muscle and that it needs to be exercised for strength. So, in time, with lots of practice, we expect to see flourishing imaginations creating captivating stories through evocative language and impressively realised characters – just like Rudden!

Rudden’s rising star has won him not only The Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year 2016: Senior at the Bord Gáis Irish Book Awards and numerous rave reviews, it also sees Knights of the Borrowed Dark selected as the novel for the 2017 Dublin UNESCO Citywide Reading Campaign for Children, which was launched January 18th, the day after our evening with the wonderfully expressive Dave Rudden. We like to be one step ahead!

Pictured above with Dave are (Back Row) James O’Donoghue (Elements), Ben Wilkins and Karl Hayes (both Grammar). Front Row: Luke Johnston, Jose Acosta Alderte (both Rudiments), Harry Browne (Elements), Bento Hegarty, Ethan O’Loan and Nicolas Molina (all Grammar).

Ms Jane O’Loughlin

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