The days are long gone when fishermen followed the shoals of herring, the ‘silver darlings’ around the coast, but the sea is still an infinitely precious resource. And so, when I read a newspaper article many years ago, I felt a shiver of dread run down my spine:
‘WHEN the SeaRiver Mediterranean sailed up the Firth of Forth last week, she looked much like any other supertanker coming in to take on a huge load of North Sea crude. But, it emerged last night, the 1,000ft- long ship once sailed under a different name, the most notorious in environmental history - the Exxon Valdez.’That article was what triggered the writing of the novel. I am happy to report that the Exxon Valdez is currently in the process of being dismantled for scrap, although that process itself has significant implications for the handling of toxic waste. You can read an account of the damage done by the Exxon Valdez to Prince William Sound in Alaska HERE.
The threat of oil spills is still with us, but over the passing years, it has become clear that there is an even more pervasive danger to the health of our oceans and seas: the tidal wave of plastic that has reached even the deepest parts of the ocean and that covers our shoreline in waste that can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade, waste that affects the food we eat and the air we breathe.
But there is one huge positive in the years since that first edition of Breaker came out, and that is the fact that our young people have woken up to the dangers of pollution and are now at the forefront of the drive to clean up the planet.
It seemed to me that the time was right to create an updated version of Breaker, one that would speak to all those young people and give them a sense of empowerment – because Breaker is not about what we can’t do. It is about what we can. I wanted young people to know that when communities work together, it is possible to make a difference.
The story focusses on two children, a mad professor and the secret weapon that might save the Firth of Forth from environmental disaster, a weapon he has named ‘Gaia’. And it is most definitely not doom and gloom! Tom and Beth’s adventure with Professor MacBlain is exhilarating, at times terrifying and yet it is also (I hope!) at times very funny!
I am very grateful to Cranachan Publishing for the opportunity to publish this new, updated edition which they describe as a ‘timely underwater adventure with community activism at its heart’. I am also delighted that they have prepared a series of free activity sheets to go with it, available HERE.
The book is available from most online suppliers and also from the publisher.
And if you would like to watch me read chapter one, CLICK HERE or the image below to watch on Youtube.