The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Currently Browsing: Fantasy

Crossing the Lines of research: Patricia Leslie

I’m delighted to be joined by Patricia Leslie today. She has been carrying out some vital location research- some intended- some  accidental…

Over to you Patricia…

I like to wander. I do some basic research on a location so I know what’s around, grab a map and a camera, and head out. It seems to balance out the detailed planning that goes into holidays and research trips, and I enjoy the surprise of stumbling upon the unexpected. I know I’ve found something great when I start slipping it into a story. In the United Kingdom recently, against plans to do some serious location research in the Outer Hebrides for the next two books in my Crossing the Line series, I found myself researching another site for the novel that will come after the current series. Not planned at all!

We were in Northumbria and my daughter expressed a desire to visit Hadrian’s Wall. The Wall wasn’t on my research radar, but it seemed a good way to spend a sunny day so off we went ending up in Vindolanda. It wasn’t until we started stepping over the ruins of a succession of Roman Forts and I read the dates and backstory of the site that I realised it fitted neatly into a planned novel set in the Gallic Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD. Of course, the physical location wasn’t exactly right, but the building remains and layout of the forts and accompanying settlement can be translated from one country to another, and the dates were perfect. This future novel will also have links with England of the same time period so I started snapping and plotting and planning. Characters that hadn’t yet been thought of, started to ghost into my imagination. I could hear dogs barking, people trading goods, using the baths, soldiers marching, and commands being shouted. I can’t wait to write this story!

Eager to find out more about the people that would have lived in these settlements, I hit the Visitor’s Centre and Accompanying gift store, and bought some books. Then went back outside to take more photos. About a week later, in Bath, I felt the same sense of excitement wandering around the famous Roman Baths. I then moved into current novel research mode when we randomly booked our accommodation for the night at The George Inn – a 16th century inn. The walls of our room were at least three feet thick, the heavy beams low, the doors, windows and fireplaces as rustic and genuine as I could hope for.

It seems likely that Crossing the Line books one and two will include a lot of rain and a few blizzards. My first few days in England coincided with the tail-end of the “Beast from the East” and a very cold start to spring followed by days of pouring rain in the Outer Hebrides. When my characters travel through these areas they will be as cold and wet as I was (more so), without the benefit of a car with heated seats to escape to. When they come across stone circles and black houses, they will be extensions of the very same ones that I came across on the Isle of Lewis. Callanish was very much a planned stop on my itinerary. Experiencing the environment and the outlying lochs and fields of peat and machair, not to mention the many sheep, was an interesting aside. The colours of a wet Hebridean landscape are surprisingly dramatic. The history of the people and islands, deep and rich. I took more photos. I bought more books.

Glastonbury Tor may also make an appearance. Here’s another site I hadn’t planned on visiting, but noting it’s proximity on my road map as I drove north from Padstow in Cornwall, decided another side trip was in order. I arrived early in the morning with mist in the hills and valley, and few people (read tourists like me) about. With a darkening sky and rain imminent, I walked the path up to the Tor. A Christian monastery does not figure in Crossing the Line, but the site was important to the local people for centuries before Christianity. I don’t know how, but the Tor too may figure in the story. One of my characters is of Cornish background. That’s not too far away – I’m sure I can work it.

The benefits of wandering is that it allows for a more fluid creative flow of ideas. Without the rigid structure of a detailed itinerary to stick to, the mind can stay relaxed and open to possibility. Besides that, I’m easily distracted by what may be around the corner or over the next hill.

Bio

Patricia Leslie is an Australian author with a passion for combining history, fantasy, and action into stories that nudge at the boundaries of reality. Her latest novel is Keeper of the Way, published by Odyssey Books.

For reviews, interviews, articles and updates on her novels and adventures, visit her website: patricialeslie.net and facebook page: Patricia Leslie – author

For photos of her adventures, books, and chickens, follow her on insta: @patricialeslee (if you don’t have an Instagram account just drop in to her website)

***

Many thanks for visiting my blog today Patricia. You’re research has taken you to many of my favourite places in the UK.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


Opening Lines: A Spell in the Country by Heide Goody and Iain Grant

We’re off into the world of comedy fantasy and cosy crime for this week’s Opening Lines.

With thanks to Heide Goody and Iain Grant for sharing the first 500 words from A Spell in the Country.

Blurb

Dee is a Good Witch but she wonders if she could be a better witch. 
She wonders if there’s more to life than Disney movie marathons, eating a whole box of chocolates for dinner and brewing up potions in her bathtub. So when she’s offered a chance to go on a personal development course in the English countryside, she packs her bags, says goodbye to the Shelter for Unloved Animals charity shop and sets a course for self-improvement.

Caroline isn’t just a Good Witch, she’s a fricking awesome witch.
She likes to find the easy path through life: what her good looks can’t get for her, a few magic charms can. But she’s bored of being a waitress and needs something different in her life. So when a one night stand offers her a place on an all-expenses-paid residential course in a big old country house, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

Jenny is a Wicked Witch. She just wishes she wasn’t.
On her fifteenth birthday, she got her first wart, her own imp and a Celine Dion CD. She still has the imp. She also has a barely controllable urge to eat human children which is socially awkward to say the least and not made any easier when a teenager on the run turns to her for help. With gangsters and bent cops on their trail, Jenny needs to find a place outside the city where they can lay low for a while.

For very different reasons, three very different witches end up on the same training course and land in a whole lot of trouble when they discover that there’s a reason why their free country break sounds too good to be true. Foul-mouthed imps, wererats, naked gardeners, tree monsters, ghosts and stampeding donkeys abound in a tale about discovering your inner witch.”

First 500 words…

Chapter 1 – The Three Witches

The Good Witch of Northfield

Dee Finch didn’t consider herself to be just a good witch. Of course she was a good witch. That kind of thing was in the blood. No, Dee wasn’t just a good witch; she was a good witch, and that meant being good and doing good; whenever and wherever, whatever people might think. So Dee felt compelled to tell the young man in the shopping precinct that his hat was on fire.

“Your hat is on fire, poppet,” she said.

Surprisingly, the young man responded with a delighted smile. “Well, that’s the final question answered.”

Not the reaction Dee expected. It wasn’t as if it was the kind of hat one could set on fire without being instantly aware of it. If, say, he had been wearing a bowler hat, one might imagine a small fire on the crown might go unnoticed for a minute or two. But this was a woolly hat with a minor conflagration where a bobble might be.

Dee imagined that the young man had absent-mindedly put a roll-up behind his ear, and forgotten that it was already lit. It was the only immediately obvious explanation.

“Your hat is on fire,” she said again.

“Indeed,” he said. “Let me just—” He flipped through the papers on the clipboard in his hand.

“On fire,” she repeated.

“Yep.” He clicked his pen and put a tick in a box. “Now, would you have a few minutes to complete the rest of the survey?”

“Survey?”

Dee felt she had lost her grip on the situation. The man’s hat was on fire and, on a fundamental level, she wanted it dealt with. But now he was talking about a survey and had a look in his eye which suggested his day had been a long struggle to get people to participate.

“What kind of survey?” asked Dee. “I can’t be too long, sweetness. I was only popping out for some safety pins and a bottle of linctus for Mrs Binder.”

“It’s all about trying to become a better you,” said the young man.

“And you do understand what I mean when I say your hat is on fire?” she said.

“I do. Now, can I take your name?”

“Yes. It’s Dee Finch. Miss.”

 

Dee returned to the Shelter for Unloved Animals charity shop with a brochure from the young survey-taker and a great deal to think about.

“Thank God you’re here,” said Mr Tilbury. “It’s been bedlam since you left.”

Dee looked up from the brochure. The shop was empty, apart from Mr Tilbury who was manning the till. Clothes hung unregarded on their racks. Books gathered dust on the shelves. The poster of the charity mascot, Terry the Boss-Eyed Tortoise, with the slogan of ‘Ugly Animals Need Love Too’ still hung slightly askew on the wall. It was so quiet that one could almost hear the creak of time passing.

“Bedlam?” repeated Dee.

“A man came in and wanted to know if we had a book,” said Mr…

***

Buy Links

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spell-Country-Heide-Goody-ebook/dp/B078NRFL93

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Spell-Country-Heide-Goody-ebook/dp/B078NRFL93 

***

I hope you enjoyed that. Another fabulous book introduction.

Come back next week for the first 500 words from a book by Jane pollard.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


Paul Kane: Living and Breathing Robin Hood

Robin Hood obsessive alert!!!!

You’ve been warned…

I’m delighted to welcome Paul Kane to my place today. Fellow Robin Hood fan, writer of an audio script for Robin of Sherwood- and author of very much more.

Over to you Paul…

When Jen very kindly asked me to contribute a blog to her site regarding my connection with the Robin Hood legend, I started to think about how long he’s been in my life. From an early age, bank holidays were very often spent at Sherwood Forest – we lived about 20 minutes away from it. So, as well as learning about the legend – about Robin and Marion, Little John and Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet – I was breathing the same air they did back then, soaking up the atmosphere.

Then along came Richard Carpenter’s Robin of Sherwood, which I would sit and watch religiously with my dad, and Saturday teatimes would never really be the same. Of course, back then I had no idea it had been created by the same man who came up with the wonderful Catweazle, I just knew that this was a version of Hood I could get behind. As well as having all the traditional elements to it, the robbing the rich to give to the poor and so on, it also had a supernatural slant: I mean, come on, the very first episode was called ‘Robin Hood and the Sorcerer’… doesn’t get any better than that! Except, actually, it did – and as we tuned in every week we would marvel at witches, demons, Satanic cults and woodland gods. I was in seventh heaven!

Even when it came time for Michael Praed to step down from the title role, the changeover to Jason Connery was handled seamlessly. In fact, I loved it even more not knowing what was going on at the end of ‘The Greatest Enemy’. Had Robin come back from the dead, was he a ghost? No, in fact what had happened was a clever segue into that other origins story, Robert of Huntingdon taking over the mantle from Robin of Loxley – but both of them Herne’s sons. Wonderful stuff!

Then, sadly, the show finished and I mourned its passing. I watched all the other adaptations over the years – some of which even included elements that Richard had invented, like the Saracen – but none ever came close for me. Only repeated viewings of his series, when it became available, would do. At the same time, my own writing career had started to take off, moving on from journalism to short stories and finally novels and scripts, as well as taking on the job of Special Publications Editor for the British Fantasy Society and helping to run their yearly convention, FantasyCon. It was around 2006 or 2007 that I spotted a shout out for pitches from Rebellion, the publishers of 2000 AD (another staple of my formative years). They were moving into novels, in particular those which would be part of a shared universe called ‘The Afterblight Chronicles’ – set in a future where 90% of the world’s population had died out from the A-B Virus.

I knew commissioning editor Jon Oliver from my time on the convention circuit, so I threw over a few ideas – one of which was a post-apocalyptic version of Hood. It just seemed like an obvious choice, once society had crumbled and mad dictators had taken over, to bring that legend back to life. It would be part of the Chronicles, but also a very distinct story in its own right. Luckily, Jon agreed, and suddenly I was writing my first mass market paperback: Arrowhead. Needless to say, my version was heavily influenced by RoS, whilst still going its own way; it had to really, as my Robin – Robert Stokes – was facing tanks and attack helicopters. Also needless to say, I was delighted when the book was so well received that another was commissioned shortly after the first’s release (a terrific launch ten years ago at FantasyCon in, appropriately, Nottingham).

I remember I had some vague notion about doing the whole ‘death of Hood’ legend – firing the arrow into the sky and all that – when it came to writing the sequel Broken Arrow. Thankfully, Jon talked me out of it saying: “When you have a hero like that on your hands, you don’t kill him off that quickly.” He was absolutely right, of course, and after that novel came Arrowland, forming a trilogy of books Rebellion released as the omnibus Hooded Man (which sold out of its first print run incredibly quickly). Not only that, but the novels had put me on the radar of…none other than Richard Carpenter, or Kip as I came to know him. He loved them, offered me a glowing quote, and even gave his grandson a copy to read. Imagine my joy at that – things had pretty much come full circle.

Or had they?

Spin on a few years, during which I’d pursued a couple of my other passions (the work of Clive Barker and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, even crossing them over in books like Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell) and mourned the sad passing of Kip himself. The world is still a poorer place without him. Rebellion had also asked me to continue the Hooded Man story with a novella which caught up with the characters a few years later, Flaming Arrow. And I was very excited to hear that RoS was returning in the form of a full cast audio adaptation of Kip’s Knights of the Apocalypse from Spiteful Puppet, something I reviewed for Sci-Fi Bulletin.

More audios followed, some of which I also reviewed – and during the course of this I got chatting with that lovely chap Barnaby Eaton Jones, of Spiteful Puppet. I mentioned the Hooded Man books, sent him a copy, and the next thing I knew I was being asked to pitch a RoS audio myself. As luck would have it again, I’d just finished my first audio script – a full cast drama adaptation of The Hellbound Heart for Bafflegab, which would star Tom Meeten (The Ghoul), Neve McIntosh (Doctor Who) and Alice Lowe (Prevenge) – so I felt confident enough to have a crack… sort of. It was still RoS and there was massive amount of performance anxiety, as you can probably appreciate.

But anyway, I began to think about elements of the show I’d loved myself and what we hadn’t seen so far in it. And, personally, I’d always thought it would be cool to see Robin and his band go up against a vampire, or at the very least someone who thought he was a vampire. I jotted down some ideas for a tale which pitted them against a Vlad the Impaler-type character, driven from his homeland and now a mercenary – and right there and then, The Red Lord was born.

I was over the moon when the pitch was commissioned, and even more thrilled when the script itself was passed – with a few minor tweaks – by SP and ITV. It was then that Barnaby told me it was being recorded soon, narrated by none other than Ian Ogilvy. Ian had played Lord Edgar in RoS, but also another quite well known character from my childhood. My better half Marie will tell you when that news came in, I screamed: “You’ll never guess who’s doing my audio! Only the Saint!” Yes, I don’t mind admitting I am that much of a geek…

And so it’s done, is totally wonderful, and something I’m incredibly proud of. Well, I would be, having lived and breathed Robin Hood – and Robin of Sherwood – all these decades. I hope the fans like it, after all I am one too, and I like to think that somewhere Kip is smiling as well.

Does this mean that everything’s finally come full circle now? Perhaps – but who can tell what the future will bring? Not me, that’s for sure. For now, though, I just feel incredibly fortunate to have had not one but two bites of the cherry.

Thanks for reading, thank you Jen for letting me waffle on, and finally may Herne protect you all!

Buy Links

Hooded Man:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1781081689/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526485978&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=hooded+man+paul+kane
&dpPl=1&dpID=51v4YFXL7jL&ref=plSrch
Flaming Arrow:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B00XPIBTCW/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1526486007&sr=8-2&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=hooded+man+paul+kane&dpPl=1&dpID=
51C%2BYO2wXJL&ref=plSrch
The Red Lord:
https://spitefulpuppet.com/product/the-red-lord/

Paul Kane is the award-winning, bestselling author and editor of over seventy books – including the Arrowhead trilogy (gathered together in the sellout Hooded Man omnibus, revolving around a post-apocalyptic version of Robin Hood), The Butterfly Man and Other Stories, Hellbound Hearts, The Mammoth Book of Body Horror and Pain Cages (an Amazon #1 bestseller). His non-fiction books include The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy and Voices in the Dark, and his genre journalism has appeared in the likes of SFX, Rue Morgue and DeathRay. He has been a Guest at Alt.Fiction five times, was a Guest at the first SFX Weekender, at Thought Bubble in 2011, Derbyshire Literary Festival and Off the Shelf in 2012, Monster Mash and Event Horizon in 2013, Edge-Lit in 2014, HorrorCon, HorrorFest and Grimm Up North in 2015, The Dublin Ghost Story Festival and Sledge-Lit in 2016, plus IMATS Olympia and Celluloid Screams in 2017, as well as being a panellist at FantasyCon and the World Fantasy Convention, and a fiction judge at the Sci-Fi London festival. A former British Fantasy Society Special Publications Editor, he is currently serving as co-chair for the UK chapter of The Horror Writers Association. His work has been optioned and adapted for the big and small screen, including for US network primetime television, and his audio work includes the full cast drama adaptation of The Hellbound Heart for Bafflegab, starring Tom Meeten (The Ghoul), Neve McIntosh (Doctor Who) and Alice Lowe (Prevenge), and the Robin of Sherwood adventure The Red Lord for Spiteful Puppet/ITV narrated by Ian Ogilvy (Return of the Saint). Paul’s latest novels are Lunar (set to be turned into a feature film), the Y.A. story The Rainbow Man (as P.B. Kane), the sequel to REDBlood RED – the award-winning hit Sherlock Holmes & the Servants of Hell and Before (a recent Amazon Top 5 dark fantasy bestseller). He lives in Derbyshire, UK, with his wife Marie O’Regan and his family. Find out more at his site www.shadow-writer.co.uk which has featured Guest Writers such as Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris, Robert Kirkman, Dean Koontz and Guillermo del Toro.

***

WOW- what a guest!! Thanks Paul- I am humbled by your productivity.

Many thanks for visiting today,

Jen xx

 


Interview with Karen King: Rise of the Soul Catchers

It’s interview time!

Today my lovely friend Karen King is dropping by for a chat. Why not grab a cuppa and come and join us?

What inspired you to write your book?

Rise of the Soul Catchers is a mixture of my favourite genres, fantasy and romance. It’ s inspired by my belief that love is eternal and that we meet our loved ones again when we die.  The two main characters, teenagers Sapphire and Will, are killed in the first chapter and separated. They discover that the afterworld is split into seven zones, each named after a colour of the rainbow. They each believe the other one to have been taken by the Soul Catchers to Red, a zone where all your nightmares come true. They love each other so much that they go to Red to find each other. The story is written from both their viewpoints, so for some of the story we follow their individual journey separately. It was first published as Sapphire Blue but has now been republished and rebranded, by Littwitz Press.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

I never base any of my characters on an existing person but I do take bits from people I  know or meet, things they say or do, certain mannerisms they have, so it’s very likely that some traits, actions or incidents will appear in one of my books. My daughters often say to me ‘you got that off me!’ or that they can think one of their characters is based on something one of their sisters did. And I confess in my acknowledgements that they are a constant inspiration for me

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

None! As it’s set in the afterlife I could make the world and characters however I wanted them to be!

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I don’t have a preference it depends on the character and the story. Rise of the Soul Catchers is written in the present tense, using first person viewpoint for Sapphire and third person for Will.  It was the way the story came to me, so I went with it. I chose different viewpoints for Sapphire and Will so that it would be immediately clear which character viewpoint we’re in. So far, I’ve used third person past tense for all my romance novels, but first person past for my other YA, Perfect Summer. The YA I’m now working on is written in first person too, so maybe it’s a YA thing!

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

A bit of both. I always work out my main characters and story plot before I start so I have a base to work from then I just write the first draft as it comes. The characters often do things I hadn’t planned, and the plot might go off at an unexpected tangent, but I go with it. Once I’ve finished the first draft I start rereading and revising, deleting anything I don’t think works.

Anything else you want to tell us?

Yes, can I give a shout out for my romcom, The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma, which is now on pre-order  and will be published by Accent Press on 7 June.

***

Blurb- Rise of the Soul Catchers

Can love survive anything – even death?

Sapphire and Will vow to love each other forever. But when a car crash ends that dream all too soon, they find themselves separated in an afterlife with zones named after the colours of the rainbow. Determined to find each other, they start an adventurous journey alongside a cast of characters they don’t know whether to trust. They finally meet again in the terror-fuelled Red Zone where the dreaded Soul Catchers are planning on taking over the entire afterworld and are plunged into a dangerous battle. Is their love strong enough to survive against the odds?

 (Previously published as Sapphire Blue)

***

Here’s a great extract for you…

Rise of the Soul Catchers extract. Sapphire’s Viewpoint

Chapter Two 

I am alive.

I lie still, keeping my eyes closed, trying to feel if I’m hurt, if anything is broken. I flex my fingers, my toes, move my head real slow from side to side. Everything seems fine.

Oh God, Will! Is Will okay?  I snap open my eyes, sit up, look over at the passenger seat praying that Will is alive too. Only there’s no passenger seat. No car. No Will.

What the hell has happened? Did I dream it?

I couldn’t have dreamt it. I remember it all so vividly. Will driving along, singing, the container in the middle of the road, the tree zooming toward us, the crash. Besides I’m not in bed. I’m…

I look around. Everywhere is covered by a thick, white mist and it’s eerily quiet. Where am I?

“Sapphire!”

Grandpa?  Surprised, I swing around and stare at my grandpa walking through the mist toward me, waving with a big smile on his face. Now I know I’m dreaming. Grandpa died two years ago.

“Sapphire!” Grandpa’s right in front of me. He holds out his arms for me to run into them, like I used to when I was little, but I can’t move. My feet are glued to the ground as I gape at him. “Grandpa?” I whisper

. “It’s me,” he says. “It’s really me.” He reaches out and envelopes me in a big hug. I feel his arms wrap around me, smell the familiar musky-scent and relax a little, allow myself to sink into the warmth and comfort of his embrace. “Don’t be frightened, I’ll look after you.” Grandpa’s voice is soft, gentle and I’m so glad to see him again that I nestle in closer and rest my head on his shoulder just like I used to do when I was little.

“I’ve missed you, Grandpa,” I mumble.

“I’ve missed you too, sweetie. It’s so lovely to see you again, but not like this. Not so soon. You’re too young.” His eyes are shining with tears.

Too young for what? Suddenly I’m jolted back to the present. What’s happening? What’s Grandpa doing here? I want to wake up. I don’t like this dream. I focus on waking, imagine myself opening my eyes, finding myself in my comfy bed with its bright, daisy-flowered duvet cover, snuggling up to the big, yellow Miss Sunshine cushion Will bought. That’s what he calls me. His Little Miss Sunshine. He says I brighten up his life.

Will.

Where’s Will? “Wake up,” I whisper to myself. “Wake up.”

“This isn’t a dream, love,” Grandpa tells me as he strokes my hair. “I know it’s a lot to take in and it will seem strange at first, but you’ll get used to it. There’s lots of family waiting to meet you, aunts and uncle and your great-grandparents. We’ll all look after you.”

His words freak me out. I try to pull away from him. “They’re all dead!” I scream. “And, so are you. You’re dead!” I pinch my arm. Hard. Squeeze my eyes shut. This is a dream. It must be a dream.

Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! …

***

Buy Links

Rise of the Soul Catchers is available for pre-order from Amazon and will be published on 25th April.

Amazon: http://ow.ly/Fz1L30j0hqh

 

Author bio

Karen King writes edgy YA with a heart and sassy, heart-warming romance. Her first YA, Perfect Summer, was runner up in the Red Telephone Books 2011 YA Novel Competition and her second YA, Sapphire Blue, now republished as Rise of the Soul Catchers by Littwitz Press, was called ‘the best YA book out there right now’ by a reviewer for Ind’Tale magazine.

Karen has four romcoms published by Accent Press, and a fifth one is due out in June this year, Her latest romcom, The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, was #3 in the Amazon bestseller holiday reads.  She has recently signed a two book-contract with Bookouture for more romance novels.

Karen has also written several short stories for women’s magazine and had 120 children’s books published.

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Author links

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Young Adult Books Facebook Page

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/ 

***

Many thanks Karen. Great interview.

I happen to know this is a fabulous book- so happy reading folks,

Jenny xx


Opening Lines: CRONE by Jeannie Wycherley

Welcome to my brand new ‘Opening Lines’ blog series.

Each Thursday an author will share a little about their work – and JUST the first 500 words of one of their novels – even if that means leaving things mid-sentence…

I’m delighted to welcome Jeannie Wycherley as my first guest of the series.

Over to you Jeannie…

Crone is my debut novel, set in and around Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth in Devon (the fictional Abbotts Cromleigh and Elbury of the novel). It’s a story that emanates very much from the landscape. The physicality of Aefre, whom we meet as she is being reborn in the opening lines, is actually drawn from the detritus of the forest floor.

Birth and death are central to the novel, and in between those events some of the intriguing characters, such as the enigmatic Mr Kephisto (also known as the Story Keeper) live extremely long lives. Crone is a dark fantasy novel, so as the author I was able to play with the longevity of each character’s existence, but at its heart it is actually a mystery with supernatural elements, and I have been contacted by many readers who start their email with the words, “This isn’t the sort of book I would normally read, but …” I am so thrilled that Crone has drawn such a diverse audience and appeals to such a cross section of readers.

It was vitally important to me to maintain truth within the supernatural, so yes, you have to suspend some disbelief as you do in any fantasy novel, but all the magic involved, among the elderly Guardians who are hunting Aefre for example, is ultimately feasible. I wasn’t interested in writing about sparkly wizards, and glittery unicorns. This is witchcraft with dirty hands and broken nails. It’s about real human experience. But ultimately, it is the age old story of a mother’s love for her child.

Crone Blurb

Heather Keynes’ teenage son died in a tragic car accident. Or so she thinks. However, deep in the wilds of the Devon countryside, an ancient evil has awoken … and is intent on hunting the residents of Abbotts Cromleigh.

No one is safe.

When Heather delves into a series of coincidental deaths, she is drawn reluctantly into the company of an odd group of elderly Guardians. Who are they, and what is their connection to the Great Oak? Why do they believe only Heather can put an end to centuries of horror? Who is the mysterious old woman in the forest and what is it that feeds her anger?

When Heather determines the true cause of her son’s death, she is hell-bent on vengeance. Determined to halt the march of the Crone once and for all, hatred becomes Heather’s ultimate weapon.

Furies collide in this twisted tale of murder, magic and salvation.

 

 

500 words – Opening Lines

Prologue

The cracking and snapping of dry bones reverberated through the stillness of the night. In the freezing air, at the very heart of the wood, in the slumped ruins of a long-forgotten dwelling, something dark began to manifest itself.

Little more than a mummified corpse, she unfolded her outer layer in a shower of dust and dry mould. Her skin, what remained of it, creaked like ancient leather and her flesh stretched taut over foul stringy innards. Then reaching, stretching, groaning, retching—she hauled herself upright. Once risen, she floated inches above the ground, while the mist—salty from the nearby sea—enveloped her like a pall and covered her foul nakedness.

She slipped out of her shack, and the wildlife in the undergrowth shrank from her black charisma, keeping their distance from her rancid stench, the stink of putrefaction.

In the treetops, caught out by her rapid manifestation, an owl blinked uneasily. Fearful, he observed her as she moved beneath him, then hopeful of evading her gaze he casually pivoted his head, pretended she was unseen and he was unseeing. But Aefre, even in her newly woken state, was both observant and deadly.

She was fast, lashed out at the owl, a missile of energy directed from her mind. His body exploded in a cloud of downy feathers. Her deformed claw-like fingers caught his remains as he fell from his perch, and she stuffed him into her mouth, whole. She chewed once, twice. Swallowed. A single line of blood dribbled from her chin, and the thinnest layer of fresh skin started to form a mouldering translucent veneer.

There was a halo of light to the east. Civilisation. For Aefre, the time was ripe. She was awake. It was time to bask in the thrill of the hunt. This time she would locate her sisters and join them in a merry dance of carnage.

First things first, however. She needed sustenance. She headed for town. She would find everything she needed there.

***

The boys tumbled out of the multiplex, blinking in the garish sodium lights of the car park, high on an adrenaline kick after enjoying the latest blockbuster. Max was grateful that James now had a driving licence and a car to go with it and they weren’t dependent on the non-existent bus service. It was hell being stuck in Abbotts Cromleigh with nothing to do.

Max was completing his A levels this year, and come September he would be off to University in a city where you didn’t need a car. Everything he needed would be on his doorstep. Live music venues, sporting facilities: Sheffield promised to be everything his small Devon home town couldn’t be.

He’d miss The Storykeeper though. Sheffield had bookshops, sure, but The Storykeeper was something special. It was housed in a higgledy-piggledy Elizabethan structure that had been added to time and again over the years, and thus appeared to stretch back and up endlessly. Shelves meandered like mysterious rivers throughout the building…

Buy link

Crone: myBook.to/CroneJW 

Jeannie Wycherley Bio

Jeannie Wycherley is the author of Crone (2017) and Deadly Encounters (2017) and numerous short stories that favour the weird including A Concerto for the Dead and Dying (2018). Crone is the recipient on an Indie B.R.A.G Medallion, and a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award. Jeannie’s next novel Beyond the Veil is due April 2018. Jeannie runs a gift shop with her husband in Sidmouth, adores her dogs, and make her evening meals in a cauldron. She lives somewhere between the forest and the sea in East Devon, England and draws literary inspiration from the landscape.

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Thecushionlady

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/jeanniewycherley/

Website: https://www.jeanniewycherley.co.uk/

Thank you for such a fabulous blog, Jeannie. Intriguing first 500 words…

Next week, Opening Lines, will feature contemporary fiction/romance writer, Nicola May.

Happy reading,

Jenny

 



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