Patrick Gallagher

Transcendent: Book 1
Patrick Gallagher

About Author

Transcendent, the action-packed debut by Patrick Gallagher, explores the climate crisis against a backdrop of Uganda and London, and with a surprising twist that you won't see coming!

Patrick is a primary school teacher from South London with roots in Goa in India and Donegal in Ireland. He studied English and American Literature with Creative Writing and is a keen artist and violinist in his spare time. Like lots of Goans of that generation, Patrick’s mother was born and raised in Uganda and the time he himself has spent there inspired the spectacular backdrop to Transcendent.

 

Interview

Transcendent   (Orion Children's Books)

June 2024

Transcendent, the action-packed debut by Patrick Gallagher, explores the climate crisis within a fast-paced science-fiction adventure!  

Review:  "Epic, sweeping, cinematic action-adventure."              Read a Chapter from Transcendent

Genius twins Jacob and Kira live in Uganda but are talent-spotted for a new project in space, to research answers to Earth's climate crisis. They must decide if they want to go - and if they can trust the organisation behind the project. 

Patrick Gallagher tells ReadingZone how the movies, his mixed-heritage background and his love of Goa and Uganda helped inspire him to write Transcendent.

 

Q&A with Patrick Gallagher, exploring themes of mixed-heritage and the environment

"I hope readers enjoy the mix of genres and are thrilled on one page, terrified on the next
and laughing on another."


1.    Hello Patrick, thank you for joining us on ReadingZone! Transcendent is a brilliant debut - can you tell us a little about yourself, and why you wanted to write for young people?

Thank you so much! I have always loved writing and used to write stories and draw comics all the time when I was a child. I was, and still am, also a huge fan of books like Alex Rider, Harry Potter and Darren Shan and shows like Doctor Who, which inspired me to write bombastic, action-packed stories for young people with great characters and important messages.

I also work as a primary school teacher, which has really helped me get to know the children for whom I'm writing, what they like, what they don't like, what they find funny and what they find scary!


2.    What happens in your debut novel, Transcendent?

Jacob and Kira live in the heart of Mbale, Uganda, with their conservationist mother and navigate life as unsuspecting geniuses; Kira with hopes to explore outside the hot terrains of Uganda, and conspiracy theorist Jacob, whose fear often holds him back from the answers he so desperately wants to uncover. But when they discover that someone has been watching their every move in the hopes to enlist them in a top-secret agency called Transcendent, their lives are turned upside down.

Soon the twins are hurtled from the luscious landscapes of Mbale to the sleek streets of London, where - alongside other selected protegees - they must undertake three rigorous trials, each more difficult than the last, to be accepted into Transcendent. If they are successful, they will be launched into space to complete a high-stakes mission to fight the greatest threat the world has ever seen. Only, the twins soon realise they have more to contend with than they bargained for … is there a more sinister reason they have been chosen?


3.    What inspired the story for Transcendent, which takes siblings Jacob and Kira from Uganda all the way to Space....

Transcendent was very much inspired by Doctor Who, as well as cinema including action, science-fiction, horror and comedy films. Jurassic Park, which combines all of these, was definitely an inspiration, with fantastic characters and the journey they take at its heart. The environment is also important to me and I wanted to tell a story that makes young people more aware and engaged in the very real crisis we are facing as a species.


"The idea of not fitting in in either place you're from is something I can certainly relate to,
as well as the need to find your own identity."


4.    Through Kira and Jacob's heritage, you explore questions around dual heritage and feelings of being an outsider - why did you want to address this in Transcendent?

As someone of mixed heritage - my mother being Goan but born in Uganda and my father being of English and Irish heritage - it is an experience I wanted to represent in Transcendent. The idea of not fitting in in either place you're from is something I can certainly relate to, as well as the need to find your own identity. My hope is that other children going through the same things will find characters to aspire to in Jacob and Kira!


5. We love the way you tackle perceptions of African countries; turning the table in this near future where London is fetid and unloved compared with a vibrant small town in Uganda. How did you get to know and love Mbale?

As I've mentioned, my family is Goan on my mother's side and many of them were born and raised in Uganda. I have been to Goa three times now and Uganda once, for three weeks, and fell in love with the people and nature of both places.

I find the idea interesting that, in this near future, developed cities like London have become stagnant, misguided and lost while developing countries such as Uganda have had the chance to learn from the mistakes of the western world and almost side-step them, growing in a way that is sustainable, maintaining their relationship with nature and their culture.


"Stories have been told about humanity's need to work with nature rather than against it
for hundreds of years but the lesson does not seem to have been learned."


6.    The story is set against the biodiversity crisis and the urgency of climate change; how did you want to tackle these in the story, and the sibling's approach to these challenges?

Stories have been told about humanity's need to work with nature rather than against it for hundreds of years but the lesson does not seem to have been learned. We are now on the brink of a disaster from which we may never recover. The time for subtext and suggestions about these issues has passed. We need to scream and shout from the rooftops! With all of that being said, I also wanted to inlay the story with the message of hope and that we can solve this problem if we all work together.


7.    The heart of the story is the strength of the sibling bonds between Jacob and Kira, and also with their mum - was it important for you to portray a family where the bonds survive despite the challenges they face?

Yes, the main message of Transcendent is that we can overcome any challenge we face if we do it together, be that with your biological family or with a family you have found. Jacob and Kira are both headstrong and determined to do what they believe is right. By the end of the book, they both learn that the best way of doing this is together.


8.    Other than a brilliant action-adventure read, what would you like your readers to find in Transcendent?

I hope readers enjoy the mix of genres and are thrilled on one page, terrified on the next and laughing on another. I hope they fall in love with the characters, learn not to judge them by how they may first appear and that people can always surprise you!


"Space. Chases. Aliens. Explosions! There will be more amazing settings and communities
to discover and new characters to emerge."


9. Transcendent is the first book in the series; can you give us a glimpse into what else you have planned for Jacob and Kira - and the world?!

Space. Chases. Aliens. Explosions! There will be more amazing settings and communities to discover and new characters to emerge as Jacob and Kira discover just what it means to save the world. At the same time, the world beneath them will need to reckon with just what are the repercussions of its misuse of nature, and what it needs to do to save itself.


10. The siblings in Transcendent compete for a place on a space mission - would you have gone as a teenager?

I definitely would if I had the chance! I always found it so incredible that, to be an astronaut, you needed to be the best of the best, both physically and academically, and I thought that was such an amazing thing to strive towards. Jacob and Kira are definitely two people who aspire to be the best of the best, and I hope they inspire other children to be the same!


.....And when you're not steeped in writing action-adventures, where do you go to be peaceful and find inspiration for more stories - or are you a thrill-seeker?

I like to think I am a thrill-seeker but I am probably more the quiet and retiring type. My favourite way to relax after a day of writing or teaching is to read a book or watch a film. I'm currently reading The Rise and Reign of Mammals by Steve Brusatte, which is really interesting, and I've just bought a box set of 15 Godzilla films, which I cannot wait to get stuck into!

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