An Introduction to A Lark Ascending by John B. Campbell

(Questions posed by Debra Brown of: )


What is the name of your main character? Is he real or fictitious?


Malcolm Roberts is a fictitious thirteen-year-old who comes to interact with Winston Churchill in the 1920s. That encounter is of some minor importance compared to the issues and mysteries he must solve in the story.


When and Where is the story set?

A Lark Ascending is part of my 1914 collection, the second novel. It begins in the fall of 1921 and runs through February 1922, a short time span compared to the first of the collection, which is a saga. The purpose of the collection is to dramatize the impact of the Great War.

Lark is set in London’s East End.


What should we know about him?

Malcolm is driven to rein in his father’s attention, and this leads to his daring and eventual sleuthing. Malcolm’s father is suffering, and distracted by, the type of Shell Shock that involves night terrors. The condition worsens and threatens Malcolm’s safety. This forces Malcolm to move in with an eccentric aunt while his father gets treatment in an asylum (Malcolm’s mother died of the Spanish Flu).


What is his main conflict?


Driven as he is, he comes upon two mysteries that he needs to solve. The first involves a plot that could upset Britain’s international relations during the vulnerable time when countries and ideologies are yet reeling after the war. Malcolm has strong reasons for not trusting the authorities, but he does befriend a newspaperman to better investigate the matter. The second mystery compels Malcolm to find the murderer(s) of one of his mentors.


What messes up his life?

Girls mess him up. The Malcolm Roberts series will follow his rites of passage. In this first novel, a lovely but acerbic Serbian girl becomes his love interest and then his nemesis, yet he needs her help to solve the mysteries.


Malcolm’s personal goal?

In addition to craving his father’s attention, the void in Malcolm’s heart is even larger than that. He is a lonely character. He aims to fill that void.

Despite his loneliness, he has two sidekick friends: Sid Shapiro and a street urchin from Limehouse named Jun. Sid’s family attend the Poltava Synagogue, a place with connections to one of the mysteries. We do not learn of Jun’s family or heritage, other than he is partly Chinese. Jun supports himself by cleaning an opium den and a fashionable Chinese restaurant, in addition to running errands for pay. Both boys help Malcolm with the mysteries.


Title of book(s)?

My 1914 collection consists of the following:

Walk to Paradise Garden (released in 2012)

A Lark Ascending

In These Distracting Times

Beneath a Winter Garden

Nimrod’s End


Although Paradise Garden is not part of the Malcolm Roberts series, it contributes to the arc of the collection and does have links (such as shared characters) with the other books.


When Released?

Here is the link for Walk to Paradise Garden


A Lark Ascending should be ready for release by July 2014.

I have an excerpt of Lark here on my blog, which I resurrected for the honor of being featured on your blog. Thank you.






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