13 Days of Midnight Launches at Seven Stories

Young local author makes national impact

Seven Stories – National Centre for Children’s Book is delighted to host the book launch of 13 Days of Midnight, a novel for teenagers by 24- year-old local author Leo Hunt on Wednesday 29 July.

Leo was born in Newcastle, grew up in Rothbury and went to King Edward VI School in Morpeth. He first became involved with Seven Stories at the age of seven when his mother joined the team working to set up a national centre for children’s books in Newcastle. Seven Stories’ exhibitions and events made a strong impression on Leo, who began writing seriously as a teenager. He started 13 Days of Midnight when he was 19 and in his first year at the University of East Anglia. Leo wanted to write the kind of book he would have enjoyed at the age of 15, and entertained fellow students with readings during open mic nights in the Union Bar. This early feedback helped him hone his craft and a publishing deal followed in his final year.

Leo graduated in 2014 with a First Class Honours degree in American Literature and Creative Writing. 13 Days is also being published in the U.S. and a sequel will follow next year.

About 13 Days of Midnight

When Luke Manchett's estranged father dies, he leaves his son a dark inheritance. Luke must take charge of his father's Host: a collection of eight restless spirits who want revenge for their long enslavement. In the absence of the father, they're more than happy to take his son, which isn’t fair - but try reasoning with the vengeful dead. Halloween, the night when the ghosts reach the height of their power, is fast approaching. With the help of school witchlet Elza Moss, and his cowardly dog Ham, Luke has just thirteen days to uncover the closely guarded secrets of black magic and send the unquiet spirits to their eternal rest.

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Interview with Leo Hunt – author of Thirteen Days of Midnight

What’s 13 Days of Midnight about?

13 Days of Midnight is the story of Luke Manchett, a Northeastern teenager who discovers that his estranged and recently deceased father was secretly a necromancer. Luke has now inherited his father's enormous fortune, together with his Host of eight enslaved ghosts. With only thirteen days until Halloween -when the ghosts will reach the height of their powers - Luke must uncover the closely guarded secrets of black magic and send the unruly spirits back to their eternal rest.

Tell us about the process of writing 13 Days, and why you wrote it.

I’ve been writing 13 Days since I was 19, and I think it was the project that allowed me to grow up as a writer. There’s an enormous change from the first draft in 2010 to the final published version, and I learned almost everything I now know about character, pacing, plotting and tone while redrafting. I started writing the story because I wanted to write something that my 15 year old self would’ve enjoyed, and I drew from the horror writers I used to enjoy like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, as well as Young Adult authors like Garth Nix and Phillip Pullman. I wanted to write a story that could be scary and funny, with light moments to balance out the darkness.

What do you think of the artwork that was commissioned to accompany the book?

I was delighted to work with Joey Hi-Fi, a South African illustrator and comics artist, on the look of the book's cover and the promotional artwork of the eight ghosts. Joey shares my love of supernatural stories and horror fiction, and I think his bold, beautiful artwork is the perfect compliment to Luke's story.

In creating your story, were you influenced by where you grew up?

13 Days is completely influenced by growing up in Northumberland and Newcastle, and I can’t imagine it being set anywhere else. I feel that the Northeast of England isn’t frequently used as a setting in fiction, or certainly not enough. The Northeast is loaded with atmosphere and history, with enough castles and battlefields to house a thousand ghosts, and the austere moorland and small towns of Northumberland seemed like an ideal setting for a ghost story.

Was Seven Stories important to you in your development as a writer?

I think Seven Stories has been very important to me as a writer because it has allowed me inside access into the creative process of writers and illustrators- as well as seeing the finished projects you get to see the works in progress, and combined with the author events I saw at the centre it helped establish in my mind that writing was a real day-to-day job done by real people.

Media Contact

For images, quotes or interviews please contact:

Lauren Regan-Ingram, Marketing and Digital Co-ordinator

Seven Stories, Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle. NE1 2PQ.

T: 0845 271 0777 ext. 223

E: lauren.regan-ingram@sevenstories.org.uk