Author Chris Bradford delivered a high-octane presentation to students that started with gunfire and an attempted assassination and ended with a demonstration of his Samurai swordsmanship.
Chris employs a ‘method’ style of writing, meaning that he immerses himself in the action he writes about. In order to make his books as authentic as possible he has qualified as a bodyguard and undergone Samurai training in Japan.
He has written more than 20 books, but his best-known are the Young Samurai and Bodyguard series. Both are action-packed adventures, the former set in 16th century Japan where hero Jack Fletcher is shipwrecked and learns the ancient art of iaido or samurai swordsmanship. Bodyguard is bang up-to-date and deals with a crack squad of teen bodyguards who learn the dark arts of the close protection squad with protagonist Connor Reeves assigned to shadow teen targets.
Chris, a martial arts expert, talked to Year 7 and 8 students from Brooke Weston, Corby Technical School and Corby Business Academy about his books before unleashing bodyguard tactics and Samurai moves, using the sword that was presented to him by his sensei along with a slightly less lethal wooden version that novices used for training.
Afterwards he said: ‘Kids need to realise that books are exciting and to engage them in that way you need to demonstrate that. When they see a real samurai sword or a real bodyguard technique it engages them. Since 2008 I have written ten novels and five short stories. One of my key goals in life is to get kids excited about reading. The bodyguard training was one of the best three weeks of my life. Being a bodyguard is super-tough and I admire anyone who is a proper protection officer, it is tiring and I prefer being an author!’
‘I do anywhere between 10 and 16 weeks of touring a year and the rest of the time is writing. My goal is to do a chapter a day and when I have a deadline approaching it starts to become two chapters a day. I have to plan. There are twists and character development so I research heavily. The third book in my Bodyguard series is all about Africa so I have researched that and now I will spend two weeks plotting. That gives me a rough guide. There will be additions and characters will develop and do things that I don’t expect them to do.
‘I have two other big ideas that are germinating but it is always the next idea that is exciting and again, no-one has done it. It is about putting a twist on it and getting a different angle. Ideas will come from a single phrase. Bodyguards came from the phrase “the best bodyguards are the ones that nobody notices” and that generated the entire concept.
‘The aspect I enjoy the most is the idea generation; when I get hit by a good idea and my brain is sparking, that is my favourite part. The writing takes a lot of hard work but there are a lot of benefits and seeing the kids queuing up to get books means that you have made a difference.’