It’s nearly release day and the excitement is building! I’ll be at The Hub on Saturday 14th February from 11:00am with lots of other authors as we launch our new books into the big wide world. Come down and see us and in the meantime have a play with this fabulous heart created by web wizard and widget magician Simon West. It will take you on an adventure all it’s own.
The Apple Tree
At the end of the garden is an old apple tree, sacred as all apple trees are. Trunk straight and weather worn, branches reaching in one of nature’s perfect imperfect circles, lichen gilding the bark like silver moss. Now she has her green skirts on but soon they will become a rich array of pinks as the blossom opens. The bees will be happy when that happens. They will rest gently and drink from the tiny cups, loading up with gold before they move on, slow and drunken with sunshine.
Beneath the tree and in the grassy space beyond the faeries have been dancing secretly, late at night with only the moon to watch them. I know this because everywhere their feet have touched they have left their own tiny stars behind, like glitter in the grass. Except… we humans don’t see those stars in their true form. They look like daisies to us.
I am excited! On Monday 26th May, Children of the Crater, the first novel from the very
talented Connor Cadellin McKee is launched to the world. Lucky world! Having had the privilege of editing this book, I know first hand just how good it is – a dark dystopian fantasy which raises all sorts of questions and will leave you breathless. Here’s what Connor has to say about it
Five years ago, my 16 year old self had a dream. One of those really vivid ones that makes you sit up in the night and scrabble for a pen and paper because it was so vivid.
Now, I used to write down an awful lot of these, but this one was special. My recollection was fragmented, but I had the important pieces. A man tumbling down into a crater ringed with riot police. Flying above the night sky, green flames writhing across my skin. A longhouse hidden deep in the jungle. It was fantastic; I wanted to meet these characters, learn their story.
I used to do sketches from the more vivid dreams, and I got to work pretty quickly on this one. I tried making it into a graphic novel originally, but the sheer level of drawing needed for that dissuaded me. It wasn’t until that summer that I had the idea of writing it down on a computer. It weaved and shifted as the years went by; I continually chopped it up, rearranged it, threw in new sections, and it began to materialize from a myriad of different scraps of paper and text documents on my old laptop.
And suddenly the release date is upon me! It feels almost unreal; I had never expected it to come this far. Children of the Crater as it is now called, is a book sitting on my shelf, with my name and the character I once sketched out on an airline napkin. It almost makes me wonder how many undiscovered worlds are out there, sitting in desk drawers.
We all get it sometimes. That panic when everything we try to write turns out wrong, dull, clichéd, not how we wanted it to sound, that horrible feeling of paralysis when faced with a blank page, the nightmare when we know what we need to write but we just can’t do it. The words skitter away like ants, the pen is frozen. It’s frustrating. It’s demoralising. It makes you want to tear your hair out, or drown your sorrows in wine. Or chocolate. Or both. So one day I decided to turn the foe into a friend and this is what I came up with.
The paper stares back
Blank, white, merciless.
It says ‘You
Are uninspired, unworthy,
I try harder, twitch the pencil,
Stop mid air.
The paper laughs
‘You still think you can?’ it taunts.
‘Go on. Dare you.’
Gar tuht river, ger te rheged.
Having been listening to the most extraordinary and magical album Imaginaerum by the Finnish band Nightwish, courtesy of my son Jed, I was wondering what this phrase meant and where it came from. Jed kindly investigated and found some debate online; the closest he could get (and by far the loveliest) was that if it is Old Cumbric it means go to the river, you’ll come to a fairyland.
There are places along any river where we passersby are called for some reason to stop and look. For no apparent reason honey flows through our veins, or hearts flutter, or perhaps goose bumps rise. There is nothing overt, nothing obvious, yet we are caught unexpectedly by a glimmer, a promise of something beyond what we see, the feeling that actually all is not just as it appears and that the real truth is hiding just out of sight.
I’ve said before that to me, magic is not complicated or theatrical. It’s the occurrence of the unexpected, the acceptance that just because we can’t rationalise and explain things it doesn’t mean that they’re not real. If we stay open to it, with a little luck magic will reach out and touch us.
In April I was gently coerced (is that possible?) by the newest group of characters that had wandered into my head into starting another novel. They had very kindly presented themselves just in time for Camp NaNo, which is another writing month run by the organisers of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).
Having successfully completed a novel last November, I decided to aim for the same target as then, i.e. 50,000 words, although in April (and July) you can set your own target and work on any writing project you like, non-fiction, plays, short stories etc.
I am feeling quite proud and a little smug at the moment because I DID IT, with the support, of course, of family and friends (thank you!) and an industrial sized amount of chocolate. Although the novel is not quite finished, it’s great to have the structure in place and the bulk of it written, even if it is only a first draft.
So Camp NaNo, I thank you, as do my characters Serena, Seth, Tallie, Ethan, Gaia and Great Aunt Rose. They are most grateful that I haven’t made them wait for eight years like Robyn, Bryn and Holly (my November characters) had to!
Photo by Derek Harper
It’s that time of year when a purple mist appears in the woods and the banks, low over the grass and eerie in the twilight. The bluebells are ringing to call a faerie convention. Listen hard for it’s not easy to hear them. Still, they might raise goose bumps as you pass and somewhere inside, you may feel an echo of the chimes. The colour glows, broken by little luminous white stars and pink shocks of campion. Sit and watch the bells dance in the breeze but if they grow around oak trees be wary of the Oak Men, the protectors and inhabitants of the oak, who are none to fond of humans and their propensity to cut down trees with no justifiable reasons.
A little piece of magic on a rainy day, that’s a rainbow. The upturned smile of colours arcing across the sky, joining darkness and light, steel grey cloud to sun; light refracting, splitting and settling overhead in a translucent promise of something better, unreachable, untouchable, but with the power to elicit a lifting of the heart. But think about rainbows. They aren’t just in the sky. They glimmer from the surface of bubbles, they surprise from oil slicked puddles in the street. They catch you unawares as they slip off the corners of mirrors, and appear in unexpected corners through tricks of light and glass. Explain them with science if you like. I prefer to think that they’re a gateway, a glimpse into the magical and supposedly impossible realms that are beyond our world and our understanding.
The wizards at Magic Oxygen pressed the button this morning and Catching Up With The Past has already appeared on the digital shelves of the Amazon Kindle store as I write. Needless to say, I am very excited! And although the process still seems like magic, there’s a lot of work that goes in beforehand, so thank you Tracey and Simon West for all your hard work, and thank you also Sophie Graves, Anne Maloney, Lucy West and Abby Smith, for giving me such helpful feedback on the original.
As I mentioned in my last post, bullying is a theme in the book, and sadly still affects many people of all ages. If you are being bullied, please do not feel that it’s your fault, or that you have to suffer in silence. Tell someone you trust – you don’t have to be alone.
I hope you enjoy the story!
It’s almost the end of February already! Hard to believe but still, time does fly. Though I haven’t been posting much on here I have been working (honestly!), editing my NaNoWriMo novel and finalising my next title which will be coming out as a Kindle book this weekend. Another long short story, it’s called Catching up with the Past and deals with the subject of bullying (that age old problem), but from a slightly different angle.
Although my writing takes a slightly otherworldly twist, this subject is a serious one and unfortunately does not seem to go away.
Bullying on any level is abhorrent and wrong, and although the physical side is more obvious, the verbal side, especially the casual comments and put downs that are supposed to be ‘just a bit of fun’ can be just as damaging, particularly when it comes from those who say that they’re your friends.
It happened when I was at school and it’s still happening now, unfortunately amplified by social media. I hate the thought that anyone feels like I did all those years ago, or like Jo-Jo did in the story. If you are, or have been bullied, you are not alone, but PLEASE TELL SOMEONE and do not suffer in silence.