Brenchley, Chaz 1959- (Daniel Fox, Carol Trent)
Brenchley, Chaz 1959- (Daniel Fox, Carol Trent)
Born 1959, in Oxford, England. Education: Attended St. Andrew's University, Scotland.
Writer. University of Northumbria, writer-in-residence; St Peter's Riverside Sculpture Project, crime-writer-in-residence. Northern Arts, member of advisory panel.
Crime Writers' Association (committee member).
August Derleth Award, British Fantasy Society, 1998, for Light Errant; named Northern Writer of the Year, 2000; August Derleth Award shortlist, British Fantasy Society, 2007, for River of the World.
(Under pseudonym Carol Trent) Time Again, Fontana (London, England), 1983.
The Samaritan, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1988.
The Refuge, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.
The Garden, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1990.
Mall Time, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1991.
Paradise, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1994.
Dead of Light, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1995.
Dispossession, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1996.
Blood Waters (short stories), Flambard (Newcastle upon Tyne, England), 1996.
Light Errant, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1997.
Shelter, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1999.
Author of over 500 short stories. Also author of The Idle Solitary blog. Contributor to books, including Northern Blood, edited by Martin Edwards, Didsbury Press, 1992, The Year's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, Subterranean Press, 2000, and Taverns of the Dead, Cemetery Dance, 2005. Also author of short stories under pseudonym Daniel Fox. The author's works have been translated into Swedish and German.
"BOOKS OF OUTREMER" SERIES
Tower of the King's Daughter, Orbit (London, England), 1998.
Feast of the King's Shadow, Orbit (London, England), 2000.
Hand of the King's Evil, Orbit (London, England), 2002.
"SELLING WATER BY THE RIVER" SERIES
Bridge of Dreams, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2006.
River of the World, Ace Books (New York, NY), 2007.
The Thunder Sings, Arnold Wheaton (Leeds, England), 1988.
The Fishing Stone, Arnold Wheaton (Leeds, England), 1988.
The Dragon in the Ice, Arnold Wheaton (Leeds, England), 1988.
Dead of Light and Shelter were optioned for film.
British writer Chaz Brenchley is a novelist who interweaves the conventions of both horror and crime fiction. In addition to novels such as The Garden, he has also written a trilogy based on the history of the Crusades. His "Books of Outremer" comprises a fantasy series that explores a war between invaders and a native people through a group of individual characters who attempt to balance duty with their private lives. Brenchley has balanced his work in genre fiction with several books for children, and has also published several works of fiction under the pseudonyms Daniel Fox and Carol Trent.
Brenchley was born in 1959 in Oxford, England, where his family lived in a small house with an outdoor toilet and no telephone. He learned to read when he was three years old, taught by his older sister, and soon became an avid reader. Although he enjoyed school when he was younger, he lost patience with it as he aged and left college after two terms at St. Andrew's University in Scotland. At age eighteen, Brenchley decided he wanted to be a professional writer, and he supported himself with odd jobs until he was able to meet his goal. The earliest writing he sold was comprised of romances, fairy tales, true-confession stories, and children's comics. Although they were less marketable, he also wrote poems and the occasional play.
Brenchley was in his early twenties when he learned a London publisher was starting a series of romantic thrillers for which they provided the storyline and then assigned the project to a writer. He was soon writing for the program under a pseudonym, and the project netted him a literary agent, Carol Smith. Smith urged Brenchley to write a purely original novel, and four years later The Samaritan was published. Since that time Brenchley has produced approximately one novel each year, filling his extra time with smaller projects, such as film scripts and children's books.
In his early books, Brenchley combined horror and crime fiction, and he focused on serial killers. Two examples are The Garden and Dispossession, both of which take place in a fictional version of the author's hometown of Newcastle upon Tyne. The first novel is about a self-help group for people who have lost a close relative to murder. Several characters are killed, some in gruesome ways, and Brenchley writes of the town in a dark, despairing tone. The second novel follows lawyer Jonty Marks after he wakes from a serious car crash that has robbed him of months' worth of memories, only to discover that someone appears to be trying to kill him.
Tower of the King's Daughter, the first volume in the "Books of Outremer" trilogy, traces the adventures of Marron, a young novice in the military band known as the Ransomers. Other characters include Julianne, who is destined for an arranged marriage, and Jemel, a member of the attacking force. The small group forms during the first series installment and travels across the desert to a hidden city over the course of the second book, Feast of the King's Shadow. In this secret place, they must choose their loyalties, and their choice fuels the action of the concluding volume, Hand of the King's Evil. In a review of Tower of the King's Daughter, Emerald City Web site contributor Cheryl Morgan commented that "Brenchley has created a fascinating alternate-world version of the Crusader kingdom and has set up a bunch of interesting plot strands." Reviewing the final installment, Morgan remarked: "I have been very impressed with Brenchley's work. While the general idea of the series—a small group of heroic characters, most of them youngsters, fighting against overwhelming odds to save the world—is certainly the stuff of formula fantasy, there is little formulaic about Brenchley's treatment of the subject matter." Daniel Jolley, reviewing the "Outremer" books for the Rambles.net Web site, called Brenchley's series "distinctively literary." Of the final installment, Jolley wrote that "a couple of the principal character resolution issues were a bit rushed or minimized," nonetheless the book is "a truly fitting conclusion to an extraordinary fantasy series."
Set in a world reminiscent of the "Arabian Nights" stories, Bridge of Dreams is the first work in Brenchley's "Selling Water by the River" series. It concerns the inhabitants of Sund, a peaceful and seemingly impregnable town of merchants and craftspeople where magic flourishes. When the Sultan of neighboring Maras decides to invade Sund, the Marasi construct a magical bridge across the river that divides the rival cities. The bridge can be maintained only by the dreams of children, and the Sultan preserves it by taking young hostages whose minds are forever damaged by the ef- fort. Hope for the Sundian people rests with Issel, a young beggar who possesses incredible magical talents, and Jendre, the rebellious daughter of a Marasi general. According to Morgan, the author has "powerful things to say about the relationship between conquerors, the conquered, and those who would fight for freedom. Brenchley has no rose-tinted spectacles here. He knows just how inevitably brutal the whole process is, and he doesn't let sentiment get in the way of telling it like it is."
In River of the World, the second work in the series, Issel leads a band of rebels into Maras to destroy the bridge and rescues Jendre, who has been enslaved in a palace. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the novel "a lively adventure in which the paths to survival and morality frequently diverge." According to a reviewer on the Agony Column Web site, the author's "biggest asset is his gorgeous language, his ability to write prose that captures the reader and creates a new world. Yep, it's worldbuilding, but the world that Brenchley creates is so full of life and detail that it transcends reality and colors the perception of our world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2006, Frieda Murray, review of Bridge of Dreams, p. 33.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2007, review of River of the World, p. 105.
Library Journal, April 15, 2007, Jackie Cassada, review of River of the World, p. 78.
Publishers Weekly, March 20, 2006, review of Bridge of Dreams, p. 41; February 5, 2007, review of River of the World, p. 45.
Agony Column,http://www.trashotron.com/agony/ (April 11, 2007), "Chaz Brenchley Maps the River of the World."
Chaz Brenchley Home Page,http://www.chazbrenchley.co.uk (September 25, 2007).
Emerald City,http://www.emcit.com/ (October 9, 2007), Cheryl Morgan, review of Tower of the King's Daughter; (October 9, 2007), Cheryl Morgan, review of Bridge of Dreams.
Rambles.net,http://www.rambles.net/ (August 21, 2004), Daniel Jolley, review of Hand of the King's Evil.