Earlier this year I spoke to Michael Barrett about his upcoming book. Article written in April 2015.
Preston-based Author Michael Barrett is set to release his first graphic novel in 2016, and you have the chance to feature in the illustrations.
The book, entitled “The Rise of the Invincibles”, documents the formation of Preston North End as well as their success throughout the early years of the Football League.
Working in collaboration with local charity BabyBeat, Barrett is running a raffle which will result in five females and five males being picked at random to star in a scene of a Deepdale crowd at the start of the book.
Find out more information about the competition here.
“The feedback has been great so far, people from as far as Australia and America saying that they love the idea” said Barrett, a part time hospital worker. “We’ve sold about 400 raffle tickets so far, and hopefully we’ll sell a few more.”
The tickets, being sold at £1 each, are being used to raise money for the maternity charity based at Preston hospital, and can be bought at Preston North End’s club store, Preston Guild Hall and the local Waterstones store.
The writer said: “When I came back from travelling I set up a small charity myself, with the proceeds going to the orphans and families I had helped in Vietnam and Cambodia.”
“I’ve been aware of The BabyBeat Appeal and the fantastic work they do for some time” he added.
Michael Barrett first thought of the idea when he was working in Ireland, after hearing a graphic novelist talking on the radio about his latest book. “It just seemed obvious to do one about The Invincibles” said the author.
Preston North End were given the title of “The Invincibles” by reporters in the late 19th century, after becoming the first ever side to win the League and FA Cup double – going unbeaten in the process.
The author has also taken inspiration from the famous comic book series Roy of the Rovers, and has teamed up with the illustrator of the series David Sque.
“I hope it boosts popularity, it should do” said Barrett. “Roy of the Rovers was selling thousands of copies per week, and I know when he stopped doing the artwork the number dropped considerably.”
“I got in contact with David via email, and straight away he said he was interested” he added.
The book has also had a considerable backing from the club, who are currently pushing for promotion to the second tier of English football. Having featured in the match day programme on several occasions, Barrett revealed that the club are planning to give fans previews of the novel a few months before it’s release.
Alongside the tale of the football club, Barrett is aiming to tell the story of how Preston developed as a town, as well as the unlikely connection between Preston North End and the American Civil War.
An official book launch will be held at Deepdale when Barrett’s novel is released, and the author said the club are “behind the idea one hundred percent.”
Set for release in early 2016, the novel is also being supported by Preston North End and Liverpool hero Mark Lawrenson, who is writing the foreword for the book. Lawrenson, born in Penwortham, played for North End on 73 occasions as a teenager, before a move to south coast side Brighton.
“It’s a great boost having Mark on board” said Barrett, a lifelong North End fan. “He’s also a patron for BabyBeat so it all ties in very nicely.”
The Rise of the Invincibles is Barrett’s first official release, after writing recreationally for years. After spending time in Ireland working for a family bookshop, he went travelling around eastern Asia doing charity work, and came back inspired to write about his travels.
In November 2013, Michael Barrett was teaching English in Southern China before deciding not to renew his contract, and returned to his hometown to pursue his dream of creating a graphic novel.
The writer has spent hours researching Preston North End in the city’s Harris Library, reading match reports and historical articles from the 1800s.
“The book has a specific audience in that it’s based on North End, but age wise, it should appeal to all” said the former teacher. “Graphic novels are on the ascendency, especially in the UK, and they’re not just for kids or young adults, they’re for everyone.”
When asked about the possibility to create more novels, Barrett said: “There is a sculpt there to do more, especially about North End as well as other football clubs.” He also revealed that another book is in the works, which could be revealed soon on the website.
“It’ probably not the best idea to do two books at once” joked Barrett. “It’s along the same lines as this one, but it’s not about North End.”
Michael is offering exclusive previews of the novel, set to be released next year, to those who sign up to the mailing list.
This article was used for UCLan Journalism module JN1017, by George Hartrey, 2015.