The Surprising Origin of ‘COOL!’

COOL

“You are my champion,” Silas told Christina, blushing a little. “My family all died, and here you are seeking revenge, not just for yourself, but for me, and others like me. You have enough courage for the whole of Blackwood. I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ because I may not have another chance.”

She looked flattered and amazed at the same time, then examined the remains of her flower. “Nobody has ever said anything as nice as that before. I thought everybody saw me as a blood-hungry madwoman, driven insane by my curse.” Continue reading

New Cover: The Curtain Twitcher’s Handbook

Curtain Twitchers Cover

With ‘The Blackwood Crusade’ due for its chance in the spotlight on Sunday, I thought it would be wise to pay some attention to my firstborn in case it begins to feel neglected! Continue reading

The Long Lost Secret to Good Fairy Cake

Fairy Cake

Meanwhile, Silas was lobbing half of the faerie cake into the river.

“SNAPDRAGONS!” he shouted.

Tapping his foot on the lush grass of the riverbank, he waited for a response. The river was very deep and fast and he did not relish the idea of swimming across it. The very idea struck fear into him when he thought of his father’s hand disappearing into the raging grey water as it had carried him away once upon a time. Still, he was prepared to do it if…

“’Ere I am. Don’t be going getting your tunic in a twist,” came a familiar voice, gurgling up from the depths. Continue reading

Alternative Fact #4 from ‘Blackwood’

Meachers Dog

“Just one question,” asked Mab. “Where will I be?”

“You will be looking after my horse,” replied Lady Christina, briskly. “Now, Silas, are you ready?”

She turned to the door.

“Wait,” Mab said, momentarily confused. “The horse is staying here. Are you telling me I must stay here too?” Continue reading

Begging Letter #2: The Wrong Type of Mushroom

toadstool john anster fitzgerald

by Dr Melchior Williams (Co-Author of ‘The Blackwood Crusade’)

In the 15th Century, Blackwood is plagued by faeries, as everyone who lives there knows. Everyone except the Lord of Blackwood, that is, who refuses to believe there is such a thing. Continue reading

Alternative Fact #3 from ‘Blackwood’

Friend or Foe

THE NATURE OF TREES: FRIEND OR FOE?

It had been a long time since Christina neglected to pay her faerie toll when traveling through the woods so, for a moment, she dithered, unsure of how effective her new ring of invisibility was. Passing by the Toll Tree, she became a young girl with all her old fears, at the very birth of her quest. All the battles and triumphs between then and now seemed suddenly irrelevant, for this… this was the Black Wood, and home to Gallus, whose memory still turned Christina’s very core into an icicle. Continue reading

How long does a book take to cook?

The previous post – ‘First Day Nerves’ is connected to this one. Both come from the same story, which will probably be called APPLEHEART.

It will be a long time before I can call it a book, and, to be honest, it’s already been stewing for a good number of years. Checking back, I wrote the Appleheart excerpt in 2014, and First Day Nerves is from 2016. It’s now almost 2018 and I have the best part of four chapters. Four years to write four chapters!?

This is what I like to call a ‘slow-cook book’, and they’re often the best. I’ll keep adding to it, and all sorts of ideas will get mixed in along the way. It should make for lots of flavour, just like a long-simmered stew!

Appleheart

APPLEHEART

My mother said I would regret choosing art as a career. My father couldn’t care less what I chose. He was, however, worried about Ned and drama. If he’d ever seen any of Ned’s acting; if he’d bothered to go to the school plays or the drama group productions like I had, he wouldn’t have been so worried. My brother was a natural. We were still in nappies when he began to people his world with characters from his imagination. They occasionally took him over so that he became someone else entirely. Many times, over the years, his acting made me laugh so hard I was sick, or cry until I had a headache.

As kids, we would sit together in a tent pitched in the middle of the room we shared. It was like a wigwam, but one we’d made by haphazardly stitching old sheets together and stealing bamboo canes out of the garden. Only we two were allowed in. No family. No friends. Because, inside that tent, was our own little world. A stage for Ned, a studio for me. We would sit together for hours, forgetting empty tummies and full bladders and all the boring routines of life. I had my drawing pad and my coloured pencils on my knee. Ned told me all about the people in his world. I drew them for him.

“Draw an apple for Murphy. He loves apples more than anything.”

I drew an apple for Murphy and tilted the pad.

“No. He only likes red apples. Not green ones.”

I rubbed out the apple, picked up the red pencil, and started again. “What about Mia Emilia? What does she like best?”

“Mia Emilia doesn’t like anything anymore. She’s always sad. She has a face like this.” He pulled the saddest face I’d ever seen. “And she only ever talks in a whisper.” Continue reading

INSPIRATION: First Day Nerves

Okay, I haven’t done one of these for a while, but I’ve been thinking about new beginnings – first days. Starting a new school, a new college, university, a first job, or any new job. It doesn’t matter how old you are and how many ‘first days’ you’ve had, it never seems to get any less nerve-wracking.

This is from something new I’m writing, in which there will be a lot of really creepy things happening in an old Art College. Yay! Can’t wait to get stuck in 🙂


First Day Nerves

First day nerves. Little sleep. No breakfast. The wardrobe showed me nothing I wanted to wear. Over-cautious, I chose my black jeans then worried over the t-shirt. I wanted to appear interesting, but fun. I wanted to look creative and deep, but not in a self-obsessed way. Approachable, but not puppy-dog. It didn’t matter really – everything looked terrible. Only the stuff worn the day before, and consequently in the wash, looked good.

My twin, Ned, offered to walk me down the hill to the bus. He was starting a Drama course, but not for another week.  At the bus stop, he frowned at the dark clouds, which hadn’t been there when we set off, and asked if I had a raincoat.

“No. But I’ll be fine,” I told him.

“You will be.”

“Will I?”

“Yes.”

“This feels weird. We were at school together, then college. And now we’re moving apart.”

“We still live in the same house,” he said, hooking his arm around me to pull me close. “I’m not going anywhere.”

He smelt of toast and butter and the warm bed he’d just left. When the bus came, I found it hard to let him go. He was my life-raft. My walking Rescue Remedy.

The bus was full and I had to stand. We were having a late-summer stormy heatwave. The sweat was soon trickling down my spine. Did I remember deodorant? A sly sniff in my underarm area and I caught freesias and fresh grass. Phew. The man sitting beside me noticed my action, but his face was blank. I turned away and watched the grey town rush past me. Up Chapel Hill, down Queen Street and left into Baker Street, past the church. We gained more people with each stop, and the press of bodies awakened my latent claustrophobia.

There would be nobody I knew. None of my friends were going to be there. Not even an enemy.

We zoomed up towards the Art College. It was the next stop. I couldn’t wait to get off the bus, but at the same time, I didn’t want to get where I was going. Closed in near the back, I tried to find a button to press so that the bus would stop, but I couldn’t see one. It was an elbow job.

“Excuse me, this is my stop,” I said, tapping on backs and nudging past.

Everyone looked around, but nobody was smiling. They stared critically at my painstaking wardrobe choice. I saw a push-button just as we were about to sail past my stop. I reached for the button, but a huge woman stood in the way.

In a rising panic, I tapped at her frantically. “Press the button. This is my stop.”

It was at least half a mile to the next one, and I had a heavy rucksack full of art stuff. The women glared at me, but the bus started to pull in. Someone else had pressed the button.

A guy up front got off, and I forgot about nudging, and started to shove. Getting off the bus was more important than being liked. I stepped on a few toes and someone shoved me back so that I bashed my head against a metal pole. The driver put his foot on the gas pedal.

“Wait!”

He couldn’t hear me over the drone of the engine. Nobody seemed to understand why I really needed to swear. I was the most hated person on the bus, and I was going to be late on my first day.

As I finally made it off the bus and onto the pavement, the heavens split open and dumped an astonishing amount of water on me. I stood there for a moment, incredulous. There were things I could have done to avoid the situation. A raincoat, an earlier bus, a seat nearer to the door. The next day, things would be different.

The rain found a route that took it directly down my spine. My hair was already dripping like fern fronds stuck in a waterfall. I started to walk as fast as I could, but my canvas bag was so heavy and soaking up water. Everything inside would be ruined.

Just as my ladened shoulders were sending shooting pains up the back of my neck, the college appeared through the rain. I made for the arched door of the gothic building and threw myself through it. My bag hit the floor as hard as a sack of coal. For a minute, I shook my head like a wet dog. Only then did I notice the vast entrance hall was filled with people and silence.

“Woof, woof,” said a dry girl nearby with perfect hair. And just the right outfit.


Photo credit:   Manki Kim @ Unsplash

Begging Letter #1: A Spooked Horse

JOhn Anster Fitzgerald,_Fairies Attacking_a_Bat

by Dr Melchior Williams (Co-Author of ‘The Blackwood Crusade’)

In the 15th Century, Blackwood is plagued by faeries, as everyone who lives there knows. Everyone except the Lord of Blackwood, that is, who refuses to believe there is such a thing. Continue reading

Alternative Fact #2 from ‘Blackwood’

Luttrell Psalter carriage

Mab was so pleased to see Silas that she grabbed his hands and told him the story at great speed. Continue reading