Welcome to my website. I write books for children and plays for children and adults.
THE HERO OF ESK (This is a working title only. Maybe something quite different in a couple of months.)
This is the island of Esk. Every hundredth child born on Esk has a coloured skin. These special few are sent to study technology, healing, or magic at the Academia. Green-skinned Sorcha is the youngest Spellbinding apprentice ever. She has great ability, although her age and self-important manner set her apart and she is lonely. Her world explodes when Esk is attacked by warlord Rom Baro and his allies the Fey.
By a twist of fate Sorcha’s magic helps capture Rom Baro. Retaliating, the Fey kidnap Sorcha and two other apprentices, a healer and a technician. The Fey threaten they will all be killed unless Rom Baro is released. Against her better judgement Sorcha discovers what can be achieved by working co-operatively. An unlikely friendship develops between the three and they manage to escape. But the Fey are treacherous, especially Drabani-of-the-bones, the Fey black witch. Even the support of the Panthera - warlike giant meerkats - may not save Sorcha and Esk.
Drabani prophesies that four will stand against the Fey: one who is wise, one who is foolish, one who is kind and one with royal blood. During her adventures Sorcha will discover which one she is.
This middle-grade fantasy/adventure is influenced by Emily Rodda's Deltora series.
At the moment it is 35,500 words and I've just completed the fifth draft. Here's a preview of the first chapters:
A WINTER PROPHECY
The witch Drabani tossed the bones in her filthy hands. ‘Speak. Ask your question.’
‘I want to know…’ The King hesitated. He rubbed a hand over his mouth. His teeth were rotten and ached painfully. ‘I want to know…‘
‘Speak up!’ snapped the witch.
‘Should we help Lord Rom Baro? Will his plan succeed?’
With a grunt Drabani lowered her massive body to the earth floor. Her torn satin skirts spread around her like a muddy puddle. She began to hum, moving the bones from one hand to the other, quickly at first and then slower and slower. Finally, she threw. The bones bounced, rolled and formed a pattern on the ground.
The King leant forward, batting away the smoke from the miserable fire in the corner of the cave. ‘What can you see?’
‘Patience.’ Drabani took her time, paying particular attention to a tiny bird bone that had landed upright. Finally she heaved herself to her feet. ‘Some things are clear. Others stay hidden. Yes, we should do what Lord Rom Baro asks. He offers us the chance to regain our lost power. As to success…?’ She stared at the bones and frowned. ‘Four will stand against us: one who is wise, one who is foolish, one who is kind and one with royal blood. But the four are young short-lifes and we are the Fey, the Shining Ones.’ Drabani’s eyes glittered. ‘There will be a great battle. Dark days are coming for Esk.’
Sorcha huffed impatiently.
Waiting! Waiting! Waiting! What’s so important the Council calls an emergency meeting?
She wanted to get back to the spell dojo and the lesson on Applied Invisibility (Advanced) which she was particularly good at.
Every apprentice had been summoned to the forum chamber in the spellbinder’s tower. It was an exquisite jewel-box of a room with massive stained glass windows and walls hung with tapestries shot through with strands of gold. Sorcha glanced at the apprentices from the other guilds. Pothecary apprentices knelt on the marble floor, drab and unmagical in their shapeless pinafores. Tech apprentices, in their uniform of pin-striped trousers, tailored tailcoats and gleaming white shirts, sat stiffly on high-backed chairs. They couldn’t do magic either. Green-skinned spellbinders, Sorcha’s own guild, lounged elegantly on piles of rainbow-coloured cushions. She sat close to them but a little apart, which described exactly how she felt.
Sorcha was a prodigy, the youngest apprentice ever admitted to Esk Academia. The Recorders who tested her had been amazed by her magical potential. She’d come top in the first and second year displays and was having no trouble with third year.
Oh, hurry up!
Finally the Council members arrived. All chattering ceased and the apprentices bowed their heads to show respect. Spellbinders stopped plaiting each other’s blue-green hair and draped themselves attractively on their cushions. Sorcha tried to do the same and ended up in an uncoordinated sprawl. She might be the youngest spellbinder, but she was also one of the tallest. All elbows and knees. Council Speaker, Tech Master Uroway put a hand to his heart, bowed, and cleared his throat. He was a gentle soul who seemed extremely uncomfortable about what he was about to say. Light from the spring sunshine poured through the windows and bounced off his shiny head. It was a mystery to Sorcha why the techs, who invented so many clever things, hadn’t yet managed to discovered a cure for baldness.
Uroway began, ‘Grave news, young friends. The tyrant Rom Baro has landed secretly on our island. I fear, in a few short days Esk will be at war.’
(Chapter 2 continues...)