Legends of the Lost: Catholic Adventure in Mark Adderley’s McCracken Series

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If Catholic Adventure Has a Name, It Must Be McCracken 

     Meet McCracken, inventor, engineer, big-game hunter and faithful Catholic. tells the stories of his adventures in a series of novels made for everyone who loves adventure, especially readers in middle and high school. McCracken and his team dive to the ocean floor or sail through the skies, ply through steaming jungles or wrestle with sharks and crocodiles.  Steamships, trains, aeroplanes and airships abound in these fast-paced adventure stories. 

     McCracken and the Lost Island is an adventure beneath the waves and atop a hidden land. The team assembles: Ariadne Bell, communications expert; Nicola Jaubert, deep sea diver; Vasili Sikorsky, airship pilot; and “Mac,” McCracken, inventor and engineer. Together they find the lost island—but will its secrets prove too dangerous for a world at the edge of war? 

     McCracken and the Lost Valley: September, 1914: McCracken’s worst fear has been realized, for war has broken out in Europe. In the turmoil that follows the outbreak of hostilities, the French Minister of War visits McCracken with a strange artifact: a piece of fabric that cannot burn, and cannot be pierced by bullets. Where can the Allies find more of this fabric? Can they find it before the Germans and Turks? Only McCracken and his allies, Ariadne, Sikorsky, Fr. Jamie Erickson, and, of course, Fritz, can hope to unravel the clues that will lead them to the fabled Land of Prester John. 

McCracken and the Lost City: May, 1915: McCracken and Ari are in New York when they receive a request from McCracken’s old college professor. He’s exploring the jungles of the Yucatan, and needs McCracken’s help uncovering ancient Mayan gold mines.  But Ari is suspicious—things don’t add up, and head-hunters and German U-boats have been spotted nearby . . . 

McCracken and the Lost Lagoon: January 1916. McCracken has a new family, and wants to give up the life of adventure.  But adventure finds him when his old friend, Nicolas Jaubert, goes missing, and McCracken must complete Jaubert’s work by finding the Corkindrill, a secret weapon that could help Britain and France win World War I.  This thrilling new adventure story brings McCracken face-to-face with assassins, crocodiles, and Amazon warriors, carries him through strange civilizations and steaming jungles, and finally pits him against a diabolical villain whose evil plan is world domination.  This new McCracken adventure is due to hit the shelves in May 2016. 

How McCracken Began

 In school, I always loved creative writing classes. One of my teachers, Mrs. Parkinson, wrote on my report card, “He should go in for being an author.”  I even found that other people liked my stories.  So I always wanted to be an author, ever since I learned to write.  For years, though, I didn’t know what I wanted to write—I liked war stories, spy stories, science fiction, some fantasy.  I tried writing all of that.  Then, in my Freshman year in college, T. H. White’s The Once and Future King in my freshman year at college that really sparked my imagination.  I wanted to know more about King Arthur, so I read everything I could get my hands on. 

     Once I had discovered King Arthur, and the stories just started coming. First, I wrote a trilogy about Merlin, The Hawk and the Wolf, The Hawk and the Cup, and The Hawk and the Huntress.  Merlin has to try to control the supernatural gifts he has been given, and at the same time search for the long-lost sword of the ancient kings of Britain, Excalibur. 

     The McCracken books started with a board game called Forbidden Island, which is about getting treasures from an island before it sinks beneath the sea.  My family thought we should all write stories based on the game, which we loved, and had been playing for over a year.  Each one of us began to write a story.  I didn’t want to do it, at first—I was too wrapped up in my books about King Arthur.  But then, very reluctantly, I sat down at the computer, and thought about how each player in the game could be a character in a story.  When we had played the game, I had played the engineer character, so my character in the st     ory would be an engineer. 

    What would an engineer be doing?  For some reason, it seemed right that he should be on safari—then he would be a little bit like Allan Quartermain, the hero of H. Rider Haggard’s adventure stories.  All the other characters just fell into place—each based on a family member, and each with a different role depending on his or her part in the board game.  By the time I’d introduced each of the characters, I knew where my story was going to go, and most of the key episodes.  I don’t usually make stories up on the spur of the moment, like this, but McCracken and the Lost Island did grow like that—the game gave me the plot and characters. 

          When I read the first chapter to my family, my wife said, “You should publish that—Catholic boys need adventure stories like that.”  In the end, I was the only member of my family to finish his or her story.  Since then, there have been three more McCracken adventure stories.  They’re fun to write, especially because of the research I have to do into the World War I era and the different areas McCracken visits.

      The time is ripe for this Renaissance in Catholic arts and letters, and I would like to help the new generation of Catholic authors get published. If you are a senior in high school or older, I would encourage you to think about learning how to manage your writing career on the Via Nova Catholic Education Program (www.vianovaprogram.org); if you are younger than eighteen, I’d be happy to look at any story you have written and offer my thoughts on it. Just contact me at markadderley@sbcglobal.net.

By Mark Adderley

 

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