Book Title: The Last Saxon King: A Jump in Time Novel Book 1 by Andrew Varga
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 361 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Time Travel, Middle-Grade/YA
Publisher: Imbrifex Books
Release date: March 7, 2023
Content Rating: PG + M
One Jump to Save All Time
Life is progressing normally for sixteen-year-old Dan Renfrew when he accidentally transports himself to England in the year 1066. He soon realizes that he’s trapped there, and that’s not his only astonishing discovery. Dan learns that he’s descended from a long line of time jumpers—secret heroes who travel to the past and resolve glitches in the time stream that threaten to alter subsequent history. The only way Dan can return home is to set history back on its proper course in the Anglo-Saxon age. This is no easy task. A Viking horde is ravaging England in the north while a Norman army threatens to invade from the south. In between and desperately struggling to hold on to his throne is Harold Godwinson, the newly-crowned English king. Dan is fighting to ensure that events play out correctly when he finds himself plunged into an even more lethal conflict. To save history, Dan must battle a band of malevolent time jumpers whose lust for wealth and power threatens the entire future of the world.
Meet the Author – Andrew Varga:
Ever since his mother told him he was descended from Vikings, ANDREW VARGA has had a fascination for history. He’s read hundreds of history books, watched countless historical movies, and earned a BA from the University of Toronto with a specialist in history and a major in English. Andrew has traveled extensively across Europe, where he toured famous castles, museums, and historical sites. During his travels he accumulated a collection of swords, shields, and other medieval weapons that now adorn his personal library. Andrew currently lives in the greater Toronto area with his wife Pam, their three children, and their mini-zoo of two dogs, two cats, a turtle, and some fish. It was his children’s love of reading, particularly historical and fantasy stories, that inspired Andrew to write this series. In his spare time, when he isn’t writing or editing, Andrew reads history books, jams on guitar, or plays beach volleyball.
Andrew currently lives in the greater Toronto area with his wife Pam, their three children, and their mini-zoo of two dogs, two cats, a turtle, and some fish. It was his children’s love of reading, particularly historical and fantasy stories, that inspired Andrew to write this series. In his spare time, when he isn’t writing or editing, Andrew reads history books, jams on guitar, or plays beach volleyball.
connect to the author: instagram ~ goodreads
An Interview with Andrew Varga
When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I was in high school when I first started having dreams of becoming a writer, but nothing really came out of it other than a few short stories. At the time I just didn’t have the discipline to work on my craft or regularly put words on the page. It was only when I was in my early 20s, after graduating from university, that I actually started to write with purpose. I had the idea for a fantasy-comedy novel and every night, after work, I’d hammer away at the computer. Then, once I managed to string some chapters together, I began to join writing workshops at the public library and I joined a local critique group so I could learn from other writers.
When you are not writing, what other hats do you wear? What do you do for fun?
Like most people, I wear many hats. I’m a husband, a father, I work full time in the banking industry in IT. In the little bits of free time available to me, I love playing any sort of sports. I play volleyball all year round—indoors in the winter and on the beach in the summer. I also enjoy going to concerts. I’m a big heavy metal fan so there are always bands coming to town that I want to see play live. And don’t even get me started on my love for travel. My wife and I try to get away a couple of times a year to some place fun.
What is your favorite genre to read? What about that genre draws you?
I love reading history, and not historical-fiction, but actual history. I first started reading the genre in grade one or two after watching some historical vignettes about the War of 1812 that our local TV station had on in between Saturday morning cartoons. There was something about those tales of bravery and struggle that inspired me to learn more. The first history book I ever read was about flying aces of World War I, and that got me hooked for life. I find that history is just full of tales of adventure and heroism and mystery and intrigue. And to me, the best part of all these fantastic stories is that they aren’t pulled from someone’s imagination—they are real.
What is your favorite thing about this time of year? And why?
As a Canadian, winter can sometimes be pretty rough. There’s the snow. There’s the cold. There’s that tinge of gray that seems to cling to everything. But spring means that the snow is melting and the days are finally getting warmer. Sure, things get a bit soggy at times, and if we’re not careful the dogs track mud all through the house, but every day just seems brighter and more alive than the previous one.
What historical figure do you admire and why?
I think Joan of Arc is probably the most remarkable person in history. She was just a seventeen-year-old peasant, living in a village in medieval France, when she decided she had to leave her home and save France from the English. What makes her story remarkable is that peasant women at the time were just supposed to stay in their village, get married, raise kids, and work on the farm. They couldn’t even travel unless accompanied by a man. But Joan, inspired by the voices that she heard, travelled through enemy territory to reach the court of the French king. There, she forced an audience with the king and then convinced him and all of his advisors that she, an unknown peasant girl with no military experience, should lead an army. Against all odds, and through great personal bravery and an unwavering belief in her mission, she helped raise the siege of Orleans, which eventually led to the French victory against England in the Hundred Years War. This would be a fantastic tale for anybody. But the fact that Joan of Arc was a female teenage peasant, and had to overcome so many prejudices of the time, is what makes this story absolutely incredible.
Who did you have in mind as you wrote the book?
I have three children, the eldest a girl and the younger two boys, and they were my inspiration for my books. My kids have been avid readers since an early age, and they regularly shared with me the books that they found interesting. But I found that in many of the MG and YA historical novels that they were reading, historical accuracy wasn’t a priority. As a history geek, I thought that my kids, and others, deserved to read stories where real history is told. I wanted to show that actual history is full of exciting events, while presenting it in a fund, modern, relatable way. So my kids were definitely the inspiration of the book and the series.
As a former K-12 school librarian I have to ask – what is your favorite children’s book?
Aside from history books, I really enjoyed mysteries when I was younger. In the early grades, I liked the book Freddy the Detective about a pig that solved crime, and when I was a bit older, I started reading the “The Three Investigators” series. Much like the 39 Clues books, it was written by a variety of authors, but all had the same three young teenage lead characters and the same general theme of them solving a mystery that had confounded adults. I loved following along as the three investigators pieced together one clue after another to eventually solve the mysteries. In particular, I remember two books that I really enjoyed from this series: The Mystery of the Dead Man’s Riddle and The Mystery of the Invisible Dog.
What advice would you give to a child or teen who wants to be a writer?
It might sound simplistic, but if you want to be a writer, you have to write—you have to get ideas onto a page. Sure, there are a lot of rules to writing that need to be learned, things like the basics of plot, sentence structure, character, dialog, etc, but all of these can wait. The most important thing is to get into the habit of sitting down and hammering away at a keyboard or scribbling away at sheets of paper. Writers can only get better by constantly writing.
Thank you so much for joining me today Andrew. It is nice to get to know the author behind the books.
Views expressed in this interview/guest post do not necessarily reflect the views of this blog host.
THE LAST SAXON KING Book Tour Giveaway
Disclaimer – I have not read this book so I cannot speak to its appropriateness for a K-12 Christian School library. I encourage librarians to read the book before making a purchasing decision.
I choose to share it because it does sound interesting. If you read it, let me know what you think.