6 months of magic and mayhem…with more to follow!

Today’s post is a rather reflective one, so apologies for getting a little misty-eyed and overawed!

Six months ago on the 1st December 2014 my debut novel, White Mountain, the first of my Darkling Chronicles trilogy, was gloriously published by Grimbold Books & their imprint Kristell Ink Publishing. I knew at the time that the merry-go-round of madness was about to begin, but boy what a rollercoaster ride it’s been!

9781909845978[1]

White Mountain, as most of my friends, family and supporters know, was a complete labour of love that took over ten years to write, research and worldbuild (yes, I am a VERY slow writer! I promise that Book 2 WILL be finished and ready next year, so no decade to wait!). All my interests in ancient history, world mythology, geography, geology, natural history, ecology, anthropology etc., etc., dripped into the history and worldbuilding behind the story of White Mountain; and my personal experiences and complicated relationships seeped into the characters and their lives.

No matter what genre you write in, no matter how fantastical or other-worldly it may be, use your life in what you write.

For me it was a wonderful cathartic experience of writing about dysfunctional relationships I knew, about friendships, inner turmoil, feelings of atonement, guilt, rage, loneliness and yes, it was liberating to write my villain, a thoroughly nasty, manipulative, violent and cruel character who I have openly admitted is based on my father. Do I have baggage to write about? Hell, yes…don’t we all?

Anyway, White Mountain was born into the world with its awesome new cover and that’s when all the fun began!

My signing at Books On The Hill

The last six months has been a manic ride. I attended my very first fantasy/sci-fi convention, BristolCon, (huge thanks to the multi-talented and fellow fantasy writer, Joanne Hall who founded & runs it brilliantly). I went to my first book fair and did my first public reading (terrifying but brilliant!). I then embarked on a hectic book-signing tour around Wales and the West Country, signing in some truly gorgeous and prestigious bookshops and meeting some terrifically awesome people along the way. Best of all though, has to be that sense of tingling excitement when someone buys your book! I don’t think I’ll ever feel blasé about that, it’s a truly humbling experience chatting to customers, signing and dedicating books to them and loved ones. Simply put, it’s just one of the most magical experiences and completely eclipses the awkwardness and embarrassment of sitting in a bookshop feeling like a lemon waiting to be squeezed! SAM_6855 (2)

Chepstow BookshopAmongst the book-signing tour and newspaper articles I went to my first literary festival as an author, to do a poetry and fiction reading. The tiny but potent, Hawkesbury Upton (HULit) Literary Festival, founded by local indie author, Debbie Young, who is a one-woman self-publishing whizz and who managed to not only organise the whole event but to even attract big name authors such as Katie Fforde – who opened the event, read from her book and graciously took a photo op with little old me!

SAM_6772SAM_6754

White Mountain, continued to pick up momentum and great reviews, including gaining a 5 star review and shiny medal from Reader’s Favorite and from very popular websites, Girl Who Reads and Brainfluff among others. Of course we authors are always desperate for more reviews as we know that getting reviews is absolutely crucial to whether a book succeeds or fails. So if you read a book you love, help that book and author and post a review! Reader's Favorite review

Then, amongst the book signings and readings, I was asked to participate in the Cirencester Literary Festival in July, as an author and illustrator and run my own illustration workshop for children in Bingham Gallery!

Cirencester event on Octavia's

Octavia's Cirencester eventWow!

With more bookshop signings and book fairs on the horizon in addition to BristolCon 2015 and FantasyCon coming up in the Autumn, it has been a gloriously nutty few months!

Then…to top it all off, White Mountain, has been shortlisted in The People’s Book Prize! The People’s Book Prize is the only major literary award voted by the people, as a way of finding new books and new talent which may have been overlooked by mainstream markets. Founded by Dame Beryl Bainbridge and with Frederick Forsythe as it’s current Patron, it is wonderful to be nominated.

People's Book Prize page

Do I have a chance of winning?

I’d certainly LOVE to win as it’s a fantastic way of raising your book’s profile, with the awards ceremony even being televised on SKY News, but honestly I don’t hold out much hope. White Mountain is in the Children’s category and the competition is very stiff with the most likely winner being a larger mainstream author who sells in Waterstones, has a larger fanbase and has won it before. BUT, you never know…could David defeat Goliath?

People's Book Prize capture

So here’s my shameless plugging bit…can I ask EVERYONE reading this to PLEASE lend your support and give the underdog a chance by voting for White Mountain? It only takes a few moments of your time, is totally FREE and really would make all the difference to a little indie author like me. Voting continues until August, but every single vote counts! Just pop on the website, register by giving your name and email, they will then send you a password. Then click back onto my book, put in your name, password, VOTE and leave a short comment. http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=1295

A MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone who has already voted, especially those who have left comments too, and to those who are going to vote. It really is hugely appreciated, so thank you guys, you are the best! Lol, I won’t hold my breath, but I’ll quietly keep my fingers, toes and dragon wings crossed! 😉

So, there you go…as my little blog passes 39,000 visitors (a truly humbling number for such a tiny online diary about writing), I can only wonder what the next six months will bring… 😀

A HUGE thank you to all of you who keep the fires burning in this quiet cloister of the internet! You are all amazing and uber-cool dudes and dudettes! THANK YOU!!!!!! 😀 xxxx

SAM_5877

 

Advertisements

Etymology – What’s in a word? – Part II Creatures and Races

Here we are again, delving into the wondrous world of etymology and the derivation of words – a topic I adore, being the nerd that I am!

White Mountain full book jacket

Today, I’m focusing on the races and creatures of White Mountain and The Darkling Chronicles, and the roots behind their invention. Being a total geek for all things of an etymological nature, together with a love of ancient history, archaic cultures, geography, geology and world myths, I’ve used many of these elements in the creation of my races and creatures. Lol, I should also thank the marvellous Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable for being such an inspiration over the years!

(*My Dworllian language – actually a mixture of Maori, African Bantu & Ibo (Igbo) dialects, Old Norse, Old English, Celtic and Old Hindi).

Races:

Apart from humans, which feature more largely in Books 2 & 3, the main (‘elder’) race featured in White Mountain are Dworlls. Ǽllfrs are also an elder race but although remnants of their culture remain, there are no actual ǽllfrs in White Mountain, having left many millennia before in ‘The Great Exodus’**.

  • Dworlls – Ancient and proud race pre-dating humans. Protectors of nature and custodians of the great forests, jungles and grasslands. Highly skilled craft workers and inventors. Dworlls have broad stocky frames and are stouter than ǽllfrs, especially ‘ground dwelling’ dworlls, though still tall by human standards (average height 6ft). Pale to tanned skin, pale eyes, earth-toned hair, some elders of royal bloodline may have small forehead ridges at the hairline (males only). Dworlls are divided into two principal castes. The taller and more agile mountain dworlls prefer open and airier spaces to their stouter subterranean-loving cousins. These ground or earth dworlls are shorter and broader than their lofty relatives but older in history, heredity and lifespan and were always by far the more numerous of the two types. Dworlls built not merely with grand designs and architectural wonder but with expansion and population in mind. And so sprang the great dworll kingdoms and metropolises of which Kallorm was the first and greatest. Most of these resided underground as is the custom of dworlls but took the breath away in their sheer size and ingenuity.

(Dworlls* – related in myth to ‘dwarves’ or ‘dwarfs’. In derivation terms, to Old English ‘dweorg’ and Old Norse ‘dvergr’ relating to manlike creatures possessing magical powers.)

 

  • Ǽllfr (ǽllfr) – An ancient race of people pre-dating humans, prodigious intellect, great astronomers but fickle in nature and disinterested in the matters of others. These antediluvian beings were tall and sinuous (average height 7 – 8ft), yet broad in frame and with great strength and agility. Angular features with notably high cheekbones, dark skin and dark hair. The height of Ǽllfren society was some 500-340,000 (BC) years ago, whereby it steadily declined. With the advent of a growing human population, and intolerant of this lesser species, the first exoduses occurred. **The final great exodus coincided with the end of the last Ice Age and the boom in human populace, some 10,000 years ago. Very few ǽllfrs remained. Ǽllfrs built their small but grand cities, not merely amongst the heights of mountains, but on the plains and savannahs and even the deserts of the world. But among the great sand palaces and glistening crystal spires, the most spectacular of these cities were those oceanic pearls that perched on islands or cliff faces just above the sea, or those rare marvels that sparkled beneath it.

(Ǽllfr/ǽllfr* – referred in myth to ‘elf’s’ or ‘elves’. In derivation terms, ǽllfr – from Old English ‘ælf’ and Old Norse ‘elfr’. Also related to ‘alfarr’ ‘alfa’ – the Greek for alpha ‘first’ (first race) may have derived from this.)

 

  • Dwelf (dwelfr) – A mixed race person, the result of a rare union between an ǽllfr and dworll. Dwelfrs are taller than dworlls and have the high refined features and darker skin of their ǽllfr kin but with broader stockier frames from their Dworllian parentage.

(Dwelfr* – literally ‘dworll’ + ‘ǽllfr’.)

  • Mage (magus, magi) – Wizard (male witch), with supernatural powers and the ability to manipulate and control magic. Magus a Zoroastrian priest (of ancient Medes and Persia), a sorcerer or magician of ancient times.

(Mage – archaic word for magician/wizard from C14 ‘magus’. Magus – from Old Persian ‘magus’ and Greek ‘magos’. Also referenced in the story of Simon Magus, a sorcerer who tried to buy powers from the apostles in the time of Roman Emperor Nero. Wizard – (male witch) from C15 ‘wissard’ (‘wise’ + ‘ard’) and ‘wise man’/’wise men’ (magi).)

 

  • Wærloga – Old English word for warlock. Literally a man who practices black magic, witchcraft, a dark sorcerer.

(Wærloga – Wærloga or Wǣrloga meaning oath breaker from wær oath + loga liar, also ‘traitor, scoundrel, monster’, also ‘the Devil’, from wǣr ‘covenant’ and an element related to lēogan ‘belie, deny’. From its application to the Devil, the word was transferred in Middle English to a person in league with the Devil, and hence a warlock.)

 

  • Wicca(Wycca) – Witch (wych),one who practices magic (‘the old arts’), from Old English ‘wicca’.

 

Beasts/Creatures:

  • Fÿrren* – Dragon. A Dworllian and Ǽllfren colloquialism for any dragon, wyvern, wyrm or firedrake. Fÿrrens (dragons) also refer to themselves by this name. 2f366ac0ee796ef54fc6cbf42693205b[1]

(Fÿrren* – fÿr meaning ‘fire’ from Old English ‘fȳr’ and Old Norse ‘fūrr’ + en (suffix) from Old English ‘en’ related to Gothic ‘-eins’.)

 

  • Fÿrullfr* – Firewolf. An ancient demon of the old world, firewolves are gigantic beasts, bear-like in size with the tusks of a boar, sharpened fangs and red fiery eyes. A portent of evil they were greatly feared by both Dworllian and Ǽllfren societies for the relentless pursuit of their victims, their voracious appetite for flesh, destructiveness and their ability to breathe fire. Firewolves are bitter enemies of all dragons and are thought to have been the real culprits behind many ‘dragon attacks’ of old.2da19d0044f73e0c41500ddc0ca68907[1]

(Fÿrullfr* – fÿr meaning ‘fire’ + ullfr meaning ‘wolf’ similar to Old Norse ‘ulfr’. N’dirron – Another word for firewolf (fÿrullfr), or any ancient wolf demon known to breathe fire – related to ‘Andiron’ (firedog) from Old French ‘andier’.)

 

  • Naru’l’tarr* – A forest leopard (Amur leopard of Siberia, not to be confused with the Snow Leopards of the Himalayas and Hindi Kush).

(Naru’l’tarr* – Dworllian word naru meaning ‘forest’ or ‘wood’ + l’tarr Dworllian word meaning leopard (sometimes referred to as ‘silent walker’) related to Old French ‘lepart’ for leopard.)

 

  • Mokèlé-mbèmbé (Mokèllé-mbèmbé) – A giant feared lake monster of the jungles of central Africa, specifically the Congo basin around Lake Tele, near to Kallorm and the area that Wendya Undokki grew up. Thought to resemble a living a sauropod dinosaur it was first recounted in oral history tradition by the indigenous Ba’Aka forest people.

(Mokèlé-mbèmbé – ‘one who stops the flow of rivers’ in Lingala or Ngala language, an African Bantu language of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Republic of Congo.)

 

  • Tarpans (tarrpans*) – Often referred to as ‘tarrpa’s’ (Dworllian colloquialism). Ancient and beautiful breed of European wild horse common in prehistoric times (Equus caballus gomelini) but now extinct outside of Fendellin, that used to be widespread throughout Anatolia and the Russian steppes. Hardy animals, similar to the Przewalski’s horse or Dzungarian wild horses of Mongolia, with stiff bristly manes, no forelock’s and thick coats in winter which they moult in spring. However, tarpans have much longer legs making them excellent runners, often have a dorsal or shoulder stripe and have sturdy yet graceful frames akin to Arabian horse breeds. Horse studies 001 - Copy

(Tarpan – from Kirghiz Tatar language. Dworllian* equivalent ‘tarrpan’ or ‘tarrpas’ – double ‘rr’ (and ‘ll’) a feature of Dworllian language and delineated in pronunciation by rolling the ‘rr’ and elongating the ‘ll’.)

 

  • Wargols – Troll like creatures with facial tusks, broad shoulders, muscular arms, dark blueish skin (which gave rise to the term ‘night beasts’), heavy Neanderthal brows and crimson coloured inset eyes (with particularly good night vision). Wargols are evil servants of Morreck (M’Sorreck the Corruptor), enemies of all ancient races and humans, known for their limited intellect but viciousness and strength.

(Wargols* – Ancient Dworllian and Ǽllfren word derived from the creatures’ own thirst for war (often referred to as ‘gols’ for short). Possibly the derivation source for the word ‘gargoyle’ meaning a person or creature with a grotesque appearance, taken from C15 Old French ‘gargouille’.)

 

  • Gorrgos – A powerful, massive and very ancient subterranean beast of archaic times. Snake/Wyrm like in shape and with the capacity to change the colour of its skin. Often referred to as the ‘terror of the tunnels’, it dwells in the deep chambers and caverns of Kallorm’s catacombs and ‘undercity’.

(Gorrgos* – Dworllian word meaning ‘terrible beast’. Possibly the derivation source for the Greek word ‘gorgos’ meaning terrible, also used in relation to the Gorgons – Greek myth of three winged sisters with live snakes for hair.)

 

  • Oracle of the West – A malevolent and powerful creature capable of foreseeing the future (Oracle – Parrtea) – Any ancient and wise creature with prophetic powers to read the future. Usually powerful and often malevolent even dangerous beings. Some have magical and telepathic abilities allowing them to read the minds of their ‘visitors’ (especially the weak-minded) and alter the outcome of any advice or wisdom given. Originally there were nine great, powerful and feared Oracles scattered throughout the ancient world, most of which have since disappeared. Associated legend tells of stories of the Oracles eating their ‘seekers of knowledge’ (visitors) after helping them. As a result, such creatures were feared and given frequent human and animal sacrifices to protect those who sought them out or lived under the shadow of their lair.

(Oracle – from Old French and Latin ‘ōrāculum’ and ‘ōrāre’ meaning ‘to speak’.)

***

Lol, right I think I’ve bored you all silly, so I won’t go on and on any longer, but you get the idea!

Part III, the final part in this etymological series, will look at objects and the things that make up the world of White Mountain! 😀 xxx

https://sophieetallis.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/etymology-whats-in-a-word-part-i-places/

9781909845978[1]

 

White Mountain – The Movie!

 

 

To kick the New Year off, here is a bit of fun. As the final instalment of The Hobbit continues to play in cinemas and my own epic fantasy takes flight and hits Waterstones and Amazon, it got me thinking…

This is probably every author’s dream, to have their book fully realised and immortalised in film, but hopefully in an epic Lord of the Rings quality film and not an ill-conceived damp squib Dungeons and Dragons or Eragon cinematic outing!

So, for my flight of fantasy, here is my White Mountain – The Movie! (Are you listening filmmakers? Hey, a girl can dream!)

***

Director:

Peter Jackson made an awesome trilogy of films with LOTR but then made the Hobbits films…ah, disappointment, so no, he wouldn’t be my choice. For me, despite a few duds along his cinematic career, it really could only be one Director – a visionary filmmaker, director of my favourite all-time film, Blade Runner, not to mention Alien, Gladiator, Thelma & Louise, lol, even Kingdom of Heaven! The one and only Ridley Scott! This, is a director who puts the ‘epic’ in epic filmmaking and has to have about the best visual eye in the business! 😀

The Cast:

Mr. Marval Agyk – played by Christopher Plummer. Scruffy, eccentric, mercurial, warm hearted and a humanist, most unusual in mages of the ancient order. Intensely protective of those he loves but flawed, as too often he allows himself to be ruled by his heart over his head.

bb8fa53657b0019531b5b4253adfd148[1]2447bce0566aabd143e67a53c4ec91e1[1]

Gralen – voiced by Rufus Sewell. Impulsive, rash, quick to anger and laughter, fiercely loyal, ruled by his stomach. Thought to be the last of his kind/bloodline, the last Eurasian dragon still in existence, he is as head strong as he is stubborn.

3bd0ec386196e77d27d5a6f82ddc9e57[2]

2f366ac0ee796ef54fc6cbf42693205b[1]

Wendya Undokki – played by Gemma Arterton or Natalie Portman. Somewhat of a hermit. Distrusting of outsiders, humans and the modern world, fragile but capable of great strength, melancholic, conflicted. In many ways, a lost soul scarred by the tragedies of her past and fearful of the future.

fd6b0ce6d25f46d65df712465187698d[1]e0c440c1ef4646c32cd840f69691e75c[1]

natalieportman[1]natalie-portman-128[1]

Korrun (of Koralan) – played by Henry Cavill. Angst-ridden, revenge driven, guilt laden, an outsider in every sense. A highly skilled warrior and tracker, he is a survivor, quick witted and suspicious of all. Impulsive, quick to make enemies and slow to make friends he is however, intensely loyal.

6163646a4ed936a9c08cb8405524433a[1]8659131cbbba5f87e1ff2ff4a81cb6f5[1]

King Dorrol (of Kallorm) – played by John Hurt. Wonderfully flamboyant but frail ruler of Kallorm. Warm hearted, jovial, intelligent but plagued by doubts for the future of his people and the decisions he has made.

15596c624b0ae693f196aa5284002cc8[1]89c49f0077b86b200dbe48dab88dabfa[1]

 

King Baillum (of Fendellin) – played by Alan Rickman. Distant, highly intelligent, cold, a warrior king in the classic sense who inspires loyalty rather than love from his people.

c5539a9a6a003a4ee9a134210679e7b4[1]

Frell, son of Baillum – played by Emile Hirsch. Ruled by duty and blind obedience to his father, who he seeks approval from. A skilled fighter and captain, but plagued by self-doubt and mistakes from the past.

66c41b0dcb7207454acbc0e518ba7359[1]

Lord Tollam – played by Patrick Stewart. Jovial, strong, warm of heart. Wistful and keenly aware of everything around him, he is as perceptive as he is kind. Inspires devotion and love from his people and his son.

777a1b87b672e5ac9dec31c18f152bef[1]741537ab2822b5161d90be4939cc8a70[1]

Hallm, son of Tollam – played by Ben Barnes. Confident, self-assured captain, master of horses, devoted son. Known as much for his playful nature, as for his skills as a warrior. A cavalier character, he is very protective of his father.

b473bdeaf8b6554b1a14ff6743eae9dc[1]1e8f1ed43a80a150254a4a303881f5b7[1]

Lord Nerrus – played by Ciaran Hinds. Strong leader to his people, serious but capable of humour, albeit grim. Fiercely protective of his daughter who he adores, but scarred by past tragedies.

ciaran-hinds

Orrla, daughter of Nerrus – played by Felicity Jones. Courageous and skilled captain, beloved daughter and strong leader, she is keen to prove her abilities as a master of horses and warrior. Hides her feelings for Frell due to their positions and responsibilities.

2ac42ce5cbcb345b3b92747d6f60ebab[1]

Lord Lorrin – played by Kenneth Cranham. Beleaguered Lord, a pessimist or realist he would say. Keenly aware of the decline of his people and the coming war to end all wars. Courageous and grim in equal measure, but fiercely loyal.

9ce9d60d59cd67168e10ff136d07085c[1]

Sedgewick – voiced by Ian McKellan. The great patriarch of the Fendellin dragons (fÿrrens), powerful, aged, kind. He is the beloved leader of his people and defender of Fendellin. Sworn enemy of Morreck and Varkul, his servant, who brutally killed Sedgewick’s son.

a53facdf73b55f9ae35a09641e0e9864[1]5261395301211f37f206763d78df795e[1]

Varkul – voiced by Jeremy Irons or Bryan Cranston possibly? (any suggestions?) Without redemption, Varkul is as powerful as he is cruel. Known as the ‘dragon killer’, this evil servant and devoted acolyte of Morreck, has been known to feed off his victims.

8c3930ef6bef732281e67a5bd713e848[1]

Morreck/M’Sorreck ‘The Corruptor’ – The beautiful and charismatic villain of the book played by either Brad Pitt, Alexander Skarsgard or Michael Fassbender. The epitome of evil in every sense. Capable of corrupting the pure, ‘turning’ loyal subjects into crazed killers and brother against brother, Morreck craves absolute power and the ‘purification’ of the planet (the annihilation of the ‘plague of humanity’).

02156161ec06fb66b70bfd7b6d159c43[1]5f38e38c7c507f036913d3f16b286451[1]7fba161a93688a22777d26a2e708e595[2]

***

A silly bit of fun, eh? 😀

So there you go…my dream movie cast! Next time, a gallery of film locations! 😀 xxx

To read the book BEFORE the movie, grab yourself a copy now!

UK Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/White-Mountain-The-Darkling-Chronicles/dp/1909845973/

US Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/White-Mountain-The-Darkling-Chronicles/dp/1909845973/

White Mountain full book jacket

Publication Day!!!!!

Lol, okay, I’m already late I know, but it’s taken me nearly a week to process what’s happened!

My epic fantasy, White Mountain, the first of my Darkling Chronicles trilogy, was brilliantly published by Kristell Ink Publishing and Grimbold Books last week on 1st December 2014!!!!

To say I’m ecstatic would be a gross understatement, kind of like saying that George Lucas is only vaguely fond of science fiction!

My wonderful new publishers are a world, in fact, a galaxy far far away from what I had encountered previously and the level of dedication, hard work, expertise and passion with which they have approached the publishing of White Mountain, is more than I could ever have hoped for. From the attention to detail, the editing, the formatting, the layout, the beautiful calligraphy, not to mention the AWESOME original artwork commissioned for the AWESOME new cover!!! Wow! I’ve gone from hell to heaven in one leap!

White Mountain full book jacket

I won’t dwell on the past two years, mostly because this is an incredibly happy time and I don’t want to miss a blissful second of it! I’m humble and thankful beyond words, but mostly, for the first time in ages, I am really truly excited, thrilled and proud to have my novel, a book that took ten years in the writing and researching, finally published as it always should have been!

So, before I continue gushing all over your lovely carpet, what is the book actually about?

Well, beyond the plot itself, a struggle for survival against all odds, the courage it takes to stay the course and an epic showdown between good versus evil, the book is also about identity.

Wendya Undokki

Yes, it’s an epic fantasy in the old-fashioned ‘high fantasy’ tradition, but the themes run deeper than just the action. Throughout the book, the primary issues are around identity, how do we define it, define ourselves? Are we fated to repeat history, to be slaves to our genes? What defines family? Is it the people we are related to through blood that constitute a family or the people we choose to have in our lives, people we love and trust? I have my own personal reasons for being interested in that subject matter. I have said on more than one occasion that I identify with Wendya the most, for many of the same conflicted, complicated reasons.

The book deals with another of my passions, the transformative nature of the world we live in today. Our disappearing natural planet mirrors the growing confines that many of the main characters find themselves in. Humanity is everywhere, how does an ancient pre-existing culture hope to continue surviving, in secret, under such overwhelming pressures? How can the world continue as it is, with the current level of wanton destruction? In many ways the disintegration of the natural world perfectly reflects the disintegration of the characters own archaic civilisation, long past its prime and teetering on the edge of extinction.

I don’t hate every aspect of modern life, like Tolkien generally did, how could I? Where would I be without my blog, my TV, my modern comforts?

But like so many of us armchair activists, I worry for the planet’s future, for nature and the few wild places left. Even in the small rural idyll where I grew up, the bluebell wood at the bottom of the road that I used to play bare foot in, with the little twisting stream running through it, was torn up and replaced by ten ugly Barratt houses. Instead of building much needed houses on brown field sites crying out for rejuvenation or renovating the UK’s many abandoned buildings, our precious woodlands and green spaces are being carved up.

Once lost, those precious green spaces are lost forever.

The Grey Forest

Again, loss is a running theme too. Something we all experience to varying degrees and something that each of the characters have certainly experienced. Loss is as much a part of life as life itself, it is something that can define us, if we let it, or spur us on to achieve our goals while we still have time.

Lol, I’m sounding terribly serious here when I don’t mean to be. The novel has humour and lightness, particularly in the running banter between the characters, but in many ways it is an exploration of the state of humanity through a fantasy lens. That’s probably my favourite genre, not just fantasy, but ‘magic realism’, the blending of the real world with the fantastical one.

Anyway, enough pontificating. Here is a small excerpt from White Mountain, hope you enjoy it! 😀 xxx

*****

The midday sun passed into a hazy afternoon. The last soldiers descended, and the host were on their way again, marching at a great pace to recover lost time. The landscape changed around them. Flat plains and rambling hills of tussock gave way to gnarled weather-beaten rock and thicket beds, their needle like thorns starkly black against the grey granite.

The ground sloped steadily downward before levelling, where the barren expanses of rock fell away into mud, reed and bog. They had reached the Shudras, the silent marshes.

Slimy quagmires stretched out before them as an endless sea. Troughs of stagnant water riddled their way into hazardous deep pools. Foul smelling vapours rose from the ground in choking clouds. The thought of crossing such a place lowered all their spirits.

“This was once a wondrous land,” Hallm said. “These were the water-meadows of the great Kara Kara River. The pure waters fed Fendellin’s rarest orchids here. Grass-pipers, willow larks and meadow-cranes, flitted amongst its grasses. Now, its foul mud clogs every channel and tributary with stagnant filth. Its water sprites and larks have long departed.”

“Our beasts cannot cross this!” King Baillum declared raising his hand. “The pathways should be clear at this time of year. This is the only passage through the swamps…the waters have risen! Another evil M’Sorreck has perpetrated on this land. If we try passing, we shall lose many good horses. Certainly, the wagons cannot cross.”

“How far do these marshes stretch?” Korrun asked Hallm.

“Eight and ten leagues at the shortest crossing, which is here,” he replied.

The King’s stoicism gave way to anger. “How could this happen? We sent scouts ahead to gauge the terrain. Why did they not report this? Bring them here!” he demanded.

Frell whispered into his father’s ear. The dwelf watched the King’s face change, an unmistakable flash of shock. The news was not good. Korrun glanced at Wendya and the wizard. As if reading his mind, Gralen stepped forward.

“If wheels are no use, wings will have to do,” he said boldly. “My kin can take the wagons and the oxen if the rest of you can find a way through?”

Korrun smiled. “He is right, Sire. If the fÿrrens can carry the heavier loads, we should be able to cross. I am a tracker and used to finding lost pathways. I’m sure we can find a way.”

“And if the horses are lost?”

“Then my kindred will have more burdens to bear,” replied Gralen simply. “A dworll is lighter than an ox!”

King Baillum managed a brief smile. “No obstacles too great? We shall see,” he said beckoning to Sedgewick above.

Sedgewick and the other dragons swooped down to carry the various wagons and carts, siege-rams and battle gear, too heavy for the marshes. The most careful dragons carried the nervous beasts, zebu, water buffalo and battle oxen, the eighteen leagues north, to dry land.

Following Korrun and Hallm, the army began their arduous crossing of the Shudras.

It was well into the night before the last exhausted traveller reached the delights of hard ground once more. They set up camp, the slimy mud and stench of the marshes clinging to each bedraggled member as an unwelcome reminder of the day. A deep unease fell on them.

Korrun sat quietly by one of the campfires, listening to Lord Tollam and Hallm speculate, in hushed tones on the battle to come.

“It could be a Hal’Torren’s choice all over again,” Hallm commented.

The other dworlls nodded grimly.

“Hal’Torren’s choice? What’s that?” Korrun asked.

Hallm shrugged. “It’s any situation where the outcome is pre- determined or unavoidable, and usually terrible.”

Lord Tollam poked the fire, his violet eyes reflecting the glimmer of the flames. “It is an old legend, but a true story. Hal’Torren was a nobleman, strong, incorruptible, a hero and leader to his people. He lived in Oralam, a beautiful city once. One day he returned home to find his family held hostage by his sworn enemy, M’Sorreck. Hal’Torren loved his family deeply, his wife, his three young children. He offered his life in exchange for theirs. But Morreck wanted something far more precious. He wanted to break Hal’Torren utterly.” Tollam sighed. “No matter what he did, how he bartered and begged, Hal’Torren was given a dreadful choice. Watch ten thousand of his own people perish, innocent children and families like his own, to save just one member of his family, or save his people and watch all his family die. Now Hal’Torren was a great leader, and he loved his people, but like any father, how could he sacrifice his own family?”

Korrun looked at the wise old dworll. “What did he choose?”

“To condemn ten thousand souls to a grisly death, to save one of his family.” He shook his head. “Then he had to make the worst choice of all…which member of his family to save. That is Hal’Torren’s choice. It is no choice at all. You are damned whichever path you take!”

“How did it end?” the dwelf asked quietly.

Lord Tollam sighed and glanced at his son as if thanking the gods that he never had to face such a choice. “Tragically of course…he chose to save his daughter, the youngest of his three children. They were then forced to watch his wife and two sons being murdered before them. Naturally, it traumatised the young girl. Only a few years later her father found her hanging from a willow tree. He promptly hung himself beside her. You see why Hal’Torren’s choice is impossible. Save one, sacrifice others, condemn yourself.”

“Morreck is a fengal beast, a monster!” Korrun said through gritted teeth.

“Yes, of the worst kind…” replied Tollam.

Hallm looked at his father for a moment then turned to the dwelf. “Have you ever faced a Hal’Torren’s choice?” he asked.

Korrun shifted uneasily, his face half hidden in shadow. “Once,” he whispered.

“What happened?” Hallm asked, trying to hide his surprise.

The dwelf stood up, his eyes lost in the fire. “I made the wrong choice,” he said simply, then turned and left.

*****

Fendellin and the Encircling Mountains

White Mountain cover

White Mountain full book jacket

Lords of Midsummer

Another inspirational, educational, thought-provoking and entertaining post from the master of mysticism, Ash Silverlock and his wonderful blog ‘Fabulous Realms’! Thanks for this sweetie, I always enjoy your posts so much. Check it out folks, this is a celebration of Midsummer! 😀 xx

Fabulous Realms

The festival centered upon the summer solstice – known as Midsummer Day or Litha – was an auspicious time for ancient peoples. It was at Midsummer that the Holly King, God of the Waning Year, was believed to encounter and vanquish the Oak King, thereby succeeding in usurping the reign of the year. In Celtic mythology the lord of summer ruled the light half of the year and was a young God, fresh and child-like in many ways. He was often depicted much like the Green Man or the Lord of the Forest, covered in greenery and made to look as though the top of his head was an oak tree, hence giving rise to his alternative moniker of the Oak King. The Oak King represented fertility, life, growth and opportunity and is thus linked with several legendary figures associated with nature and rebirth, such as Robin Hood, the Norse god Balder, the…

View original post 1,296 more words

Work In Progress (WIP) Blog Hop

Well, after my WordPress crashed on me, in the middle of this post (so I lost the lot…ugh!), I also seem to have lost many of my edits buttons including font size and colour…so please forgive this monotone post!

A few days ago, I was very kindly nominated by talented fantasy writer, Kate Jack (Katrina Jack) to participate in this blog hop, outlining my current work in progress (WIP).

Kate Jack is the author of brilliant urban fantasy series, The Silver Flute Trilogy, and is completing her own WIP, Dawn Horizon, the last book in her trilogy. Exciting times for her and her avid readers! Please check out her wonderful blog, full of writing advice, author interviews, short stories, poetry and much much more! http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/

What makes this blog hop so special and different from all the other thousands out there, is simply that it gives YOU a tantalising first glimpse into an author’s next new work, long before it hits the bookshelves. As a reader and writer, I’m always looking to find the next great book to immerse myself in and love getting first insights into future projects…so here we go!

7 questions about my current WIP, before I nominate others and pass the baton on.

1. What is the name of your main character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

In this book, the sequel to White Mountain – Book 1 of the Darkling Chronicles (due to be re-published by my wonderful new publishers, Kristell Ink / Grimbold Books later this year) the focus shifts to Wendya Undokki. Although Mr. Agyk, Gralen and Korrun are still the main protagonists, this book is more about Wendya’s journey, her struggles and her descent into darkness.

2. When and where is the story set?

I always envisioned the series being set now amongst our modern world, not on some mythical planet or in the distant past. I love the juxtaposition of modern technology, modern life and ancient magic. In the first book, we were introduced to the main characters and the ancient cultures and realms they exist in, realms and cultures that have lain secret for thousands of years and that pre-date humanity. These cultures have had to adapt to an ever-changing planet with a ever-increasing human population. In Book 2, we see the clash of cultures, as humanity meets these immortal creatures for the first time and the too are forced to work together in order to survive what is to come.

3. What should we know about him/her?

Wendya is a very complex, conflicted and angst ridden individual who has built up barriers through the course of her life. She is stronger than she knows, but also fragile and emotionally vulnerable. She certainly has a difficult journey ahead of her in Book 2 and Book 3, but I can’t reveal much more than that yet! 😉

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Lol, well I can’t reveal too much, especially for those who have yet to read Book 1. But Book 2 deals the fallout of Book 1’s revelations, with themes of identity, familial bonds, trust, destiny and the use and misuse of power. Wendya struggles with all these issues and the challenges she finds herself in.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

To understand her origins, her powers and what her future holds. Some of that includes wanting to rid herself of her abilities and deny who she really is.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

Yes, Race of Shadows – Book 2 of the Darkling Chronicles. Lol, I’m afraid my lovely publishers have first dibs on the story before I reveal too much, but I can promise that it will epic, thrilling and a real page turner!

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

In 2015 hopefully. 😀

Chapter Twenty-One - Into The Light

There you go, now to pass the baton on to my nominees, all of them brilliant writers who have many creative works on the go at the moment…let’s take a look!

Will Macmillan Jones: http://willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com/

Joanne Hall: http://hierath.wordpress.com/

Susan Finlay: http://susansbooks37.wordpress.com/

Please check out their blogs and their wonderful books! 😀 xxx

 

 

 

A pinch and a punch for the first of the month…a slap and a kick for being so quick!

038

December! Really? How the hell did that happen? Only a blink ago it was the summer, then Autumn turned our gardens to a deeper shade of gold, now shop windows are frosted with aerosols, lights dangle overhead, brightly coloured trees sprout up like iced gems all around us…Chritsmas is upon us!

Christmas 2013 038

Wow…

Well, although like most of us, the thought of another year passing, another year older, sends a slight shudder down my spine, I do LOVE Christmas. I love everything about it, it’s ridiculous optimism, that childish sense of magic in the air, over indulgent cupboards and fridges bursting at the seams, all those naughty treats you deprive yourself of, now suddenly tangible…you have the best excuse in the world for nibbling those crisps, those heavy fudge cakes, or sugary treats, hey it’s Christmas! Forget the diets, guys!

I find myself being a child again at this time of year. Yes, for me I HAVE to get my tree up on the 1st December, decorated and glowing and green…and although it’s branches are less green now and more than a little crispy, I adore every moment. LOVE IT!!!! 011

So, in the chilly air, we got our Christmas trees, one enormous 7ft 6″ leviathan for the living room, the bushiest tree I have ever seen – so bushy in fact it that it got stuck in the netting machine gizmo, where it took three of the tree guys to force it through! Then we have a smaller tree for the hall, looking cheerily out of the window to welcome all. Christmas 2013 022

Then it’s the yearly struggle to remember which ‘safe place’ we’ve snaffled the Christmas boxes in, messily taped up to try to contain the copious amounts of decorations in. It is true that I cannot throw ANY Christmas decorations away and for the last twenty years I’ve had a tradition where I buy one new Christmas decoration every year, so now I have loads!

After fiddling with stands and buckets, trimming tree-tops, pruning trunks, we had the trees up and looking proud.

Christmas 2013 011Lol, okay, I admit to a slight idiot move on my part…er…namely cutting too much off the top of our perfect tree so I kind of ruined the look of it, but, I’m nothing if not creative, so some wire, superglue & sticky tape later, and I’d reattached the top & stuck the star on to cover up my cock-up. Looks beautiful now! 003 (2)

Then it’s the usual tangle of fairy lights…it doesn’t matter how carefully you put them away, the little buggers will tangle themselves involuntarily! Amazing all lights were working…ahem, after a sale last year, I found myself facing over 800 fairy lights! 400 on each tree would look ridiculous, right? Amazingly we could have used more, they just seemed to disappear in the branches!

049Oh, but what lovely festive fun! For the first time in months I actually found myself laughing, an amazing feat given that I was so ill through November. But like a tonic, the Christmas spirit is definitely rubbing off on me and all those around. An easing of the spirit. Somehow, the challenges and difficulties of 2013, a year I shall never forget though I’d like to, seem to dissolve against such magical optimism. Problems may be large or small, but they CAN be overcome, they CAN be solved!

Positive thinking, right? Yes, yes, YES! 😀

Christmas 2013 052Anyway, advent calendar windows opened, dangling Father Christmas decorations up, decorations on doors, garlands over mantlepiece and up the stairs rails, and cheesy baubles on trees. LOVE it!

Christmas 2013 036

One other lovely thing, that I will definitely make a Tallis tradition, is going around the garden with a pair of secateurs, taking branches of fir, spruce and holly. Why pay for a Holly wreath or bow, when you can make one?! SOOOO simple and satisfying to do, just a little wire to hold the branches together and a red bow, viola! One instant door decoration and so special as it’s from your own garden!

IChristmas 2013 032f you don’t have fir, spruce or holly available, confer branches would work just as well.

Then, of course, it’s the long process of Christmas card writing – which depending on your mood, can either be a gloriously relaxing affair, or a stressful nightmare! The worst, is drawing up your list, desperately wracking your brain over your second cousin removed and her new hubby whose name you can’t remember, hoping you haven’t forgotten anyone, grumbling over the cost of stamps as they increase every year, finding too many cards and not enough envelopes and writing the wrong addresses on the wrong cards, before rushing off to make sure you’ve posted all your overseas ones before the cut off! Manic? yes, but still lovely! 🙂

085

Luckily managed to do all mine this year, including the overseas ones, with time to spare! Wow, that’s a first!

Yes…December has arrived in all its glittering shinyness and though I may miss the blissful heat of summer, nothing beats a crackling log fire and some hearty cheer!

So whatever you’re doing, whatever you’re plans, wherever you are, here’s wishing you all a wonderfully happy, magical and glorious Christmas and festive season!

😀 xxxxxxx

060

Merry Christmas Everyone! 😀 xxxx