The book isn’t just aimed at sports fans, but also to a wider audience as the protagonists, Kaine and Roxy twins attempt to overcome seemingly insurmountable complications and realise their aspirations – despite the shifting goalposts.
The publishing director at DFB, Bella Pearson, commented: “We are so thrilled to be publishing Dan’s new novel. Unstoppable is thrilling, gritty and hugely accessible, and Dan’s passion to get young people reading shines through the narrative.”
I caught up with Dan and asked him questions all about the new book.
Can you give me a brief outlining of the theme of Unstoppable?
“It’s a story about two 14-year-old twins, called Roxy and Kaine Campbell. They are both extremely sporty – Roxy loves tennis, and Kaine is a footballer. They are very competitive, both wanting to be “Number One,” not only in their family, but also in their sport.
However, it requires a lot of support and time to enable kids to play very high-level sport, and, in the Campbell family, they only have one car and one job between them. Thus, it is getting the point where some choices are going to have to be made. This is where the story begins!”
What gave you the idea that the twins shouldn’t see eye to eye?
“As well as it being quite realistic, I think that good stories come from moments of antagonism and friction.
I really like the fact that with every family with siblings, you try your best to treat everyone equally. This responsibility is intensified with twins. I thought that starting with choices having to be made was interesting due to the ramifications that it could have on Kaine and Roxy’s relationship.
I was intrigued with the idea of twins, who used to be so close, gradually becoming so far apart.”
“Though I am not trying to send messages as such when writing books, Unstoppable does cover some important topics such as peer pressure, gangs, social media, knife crime and the pressure that young people feel these days.
Having said that, I hope that the book will provide a platform for people to discuss the issues they have themselves; and understand what their own messages are rather than me trying to put one on for them.”
Would you say that Unstoppable has a genre?
“I think that it falls into the ‘thriller’ genre. People who have read it have told me that they couldn’t put it down; that they read it in one go, and they were desperate to find out what was going to happen next.
Though the sport included does play into that, I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘sport story’ – more of a thriller about two very determined kids, who are also taking too many risks in their lives. We find out where those risks take them.”
Was it hard not writing about Jamie Johnson?
“Yes! The world of Jamie Johnson is one which feel very at home with as I’ve been immersed in it for 15 years. Writing Unstoppable took about 5 years, from ideas of the plot to it actually being released. It was a real challenge due to it being a new world with new characters, and, as I said, there were some very important subjects that I had to do my best to get right.”
Where did you write Unstoppable?
“I like, if I can, to be somewhere other than home while writing, as, when at home, you find that everyday life crams in on you, so I prefer to be somewhere different. I wrote a lot of the book in Barbados, which is fortunate as an important character in the book is from there.
It was a beautiful place to write, where I could really lose myself in the story, and at the same time, I could develop it, by talking to people about the island.”
Secrets and lies… secrets and lies…
Fourteen-year-old twins, Kaine and Roxy, used to be close, but now they can hardly bear to be in the same room.
Roxy hates the way her brother behaves – Kaine might be brilliant at football, but he’s always in trouble and seems determined to tear the family apart.
And Kaine despises the way his supposedly perfect sister dominates their parents in her ambition to reach Wimbledon.
But the twins are both hiding dangerous secrets of their own, secrets that could destroy everything they are working towards – and both Roxy’s and Kaine’s survival hangs precariously in the balance.
Gripping, twisting and real; this book is UNSTOPPABLE.
Don’t miss Unstoppable, released on Thursday 7th February 2019. Described as a “must read story for all sporty kids in Year 6 and above” and a great “springboard to facilitate important conversations to be had at this age,” and full of sport, drama, twists and turns!
Words by Ed Gent