Yes – apologies. This blog has been very quiet in the past few months. There’s a reason for that, which I’m about to share with you.
Life during lockdown was very different, obviously. One of the most positive and welcome changes during that time was the opportunity to chat via video link with my grandchildren every day. Their mother works from home, so I agreed to do some home learning with them each weekday morning, to give her some time to herself.
Every ‘lesson’ ended with a story session and we got through a fair few books during that time – Tales of Mystery and Imagination (my favourite picture book ever), The Arabian Nights, The Firework Maker’s Daughter, Stig of the Dump and much more. The five year old – quite understandably – drifted away unless there were plenty of pictures, but the eight year old sat and soaked in every word, day after day.
When the summer holidays started, lockdown eased and the lessons ceased, I found that my love of children’s literature had been rekindled (unintentional pun there!)
As a parent, teacher and mentor, I’d often been able to find the perfect book to help a child dealing with family or personal issues – low self-esteem, bullying, family splits and so forth. The book I’d never been able to find was one that explained – in a child-friendly storybook format – why, if we do indeed at some level choose the family we are born into, this child chose the parents or siblings they did.
That’s why I decided to write it.
I hadn’t been prepared for how much it would consume my life – waking and dreaming. Stellan and Ruby Rose, my main characters, became utterly real to me. Perhaps, since they’ve now been created, they really live in some other reality. I’d like to think so. At any rate, one night, during a particularly vivid dream, Ruby and I headed off on an adventure quite unrelated to the story I was writing.
Often I suddenly ‘knew’ what would happen to them next, without consciously planning it. I caught myself thinking, “Oh, yes, clever! That links well to chapter 14,” although the new idea had suddenly appeared unbidden in my mind. Maybe I was being helped…
I did become rather obsessed. There was the day the doorbell rang when I was in full creative flow and I found myself answering the door to the courier there in a Welsh accent, since I’d been writing dialogue between characters in a Welsh village at the time!
It’s only available on Kindle so far, but I’m hoping to get it into paperback within the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, if you know any 8-12 year olds who might enjoy a story about sorcery, self-discovery, adventure and the magical chemistry that permeates all of our lives, do send them to hunt it out on Amazon Kindle, where the first few chapters are free to read.