Welcome to my website. I write books for children and plays for children and adults. As of 2024 I am also offering manuscript assessment and editing services.
My Work in Progress is a fantasy/adventure for middle-grade readers. The title has changed several times. At present I am calling it The Hero of Esk or Green Girl Magic or Ana is More than Magic. Who knows what the final choice will be?
Here are some illustrations which helped me imagine the story.
Scroll down to read an outline of the plot. Scroll further down to read part of Chapter Two.
The map is of the mythical island of Miran situated in the Known Ocean. Ana and her friends journey from the Academia in Ultima to the swamplands, and all the way down the Esk River to Aquilla and the Giant Sand Dunes at Island's End.
The meerkat at the top is the inspiration for a race of giant meerkat-like warriors called Pantherans. Their weapon of choice is the two-headed axe in the picture.
The cave resembles the one Ana is imprisoned in by the Var. The boat with paddles and the one with a sail are vessels that carry our heroes down the massive Est River.
BRIEF OUTLINE OF THE STORY:
On Miran one in every hundred babies are born with coloured skin. These 'bloom' children are sent to the Academia to begin apprenticeships. Those with purple skin study to be medical pothecaries. Those with blue tattoos become inventive teks. Green children train as spellbinders, the only guild with magic. Ana, the main character, has green skin and amazing magical potential. She is fast-tracked into Third Year although only twelve years old. Being so young and rather full of herself, Ana is lonely.
After Ana loses her magic she has to discover what she's really made of. She learns that everyone (even those without magic) have strengths, and finds that her power is greatest if she uses it for others.
The story begins when Miran is attacked by the tyrant Karapaz and his allies the treacherous Var. The Var hagwitch Drabani predicts that four will try to stop Karapaz succeeding: one who is wise, one who is foolish, one who is kind, and one with royal blood.
Academia apprentices are banned from joining the battle. Believing that her magic can win the war, Ana disobeys. She fires an Ignition Curse at the enemy which saves the life of Tamin Te Mata, a four-legged Pantheran warrior, and is responsible for the capture of Karapaz. Ana becomes a hero to the Pantherans. But her own guild, the spellbinders, are not impressed and she’s severely reprimanded. Feeling hard done by Ana storms off, galloping away from the Academia on her contrapony, Runt.
It isn’t long before Drabani-of-the-bones captures Ana and puts her under the spell of thrawl, taking away her magic.
The Var kidnap two other apprentices –Jazzamine, a street-wise pothecary, and Pentlebury, a creative tek. Drabani announces that the three will only be freed if Karapaz is released. Otherwise, bits of the apprentices will progressively be sent to the Academia - beginning with fingers. Worried for their safety, the leaders of Miran agree to a prisoner exchange.
Ana and her (now) friends Jazzamine and Pentlebury fear that if released, Karapaz will attack Miran again. They escape from the Var cave and sail to Bitter Rocks prison where Karapaz is being held. Here they meet up with Tamin Te Mata and set out to foil Drabani's plan.
Through her adventures Ana discovers there is more to her than magic. Facing Karapaz and the Var again she makes a last desperate attempt to save Miran. The moment she realises that her power should be used to benefit others (not impress them) she break's Drabani's spell.
Here's a taste of Chapter Two.
CHAPTER TWO The Prodigy
Ana Gris, the most exceptionally talented apprentice to ever enter the Academia, stood ready to begin. The Third Year Spell Dojo was crowded for this judging of end-of-spring-term magic. Fashionably dressed spellbinders, with skin colours ranging from emerald to olive, crowded the tiered seating. The mark of fully qualified female spellbinders was their intricate and elaborate hairstyles, using either random decorations with sea pearls and droplets of amber, or plaits to build up structures on their heads. Wheels and towers were popular. Male spellbinders, less showy, grew their hair and beards long, loosely curled.
All eyes were on the judging panel. One of the judges stood up. When he snapped his fingers, the leather-padded walls of the dojo transformed into a shimmering, silver screen. Up flashed the results of the last apprentice…Artistry: 7, Execution: 8. Deductions: 1. Total score 14. He clicked his fingers again. The walls shimmered and returned to normal.
As Ana waited she heard the audience whisper: ‘Next to perform is Ana, the prodigy. She’s sure to get top marks.’
No pressure, then, Ana grumbled to herself. She tugged the hem of her tunic down over her leggings. It was just too short. A recent growth spurt had left her feeling like a new-born contrapony, all long arms and legs.
Dame Masselina, head judge and most senior spellbinder, nodded for Ana to begin—a movement that sent an earthquake through her towering pyramid of grey hair.
Ana took a deep breath. Whispering the spell and stretching out green fingers, Ana disappeared from her feet up as smoothly as sugar dissolves in warm water. In less than a second she had completely vanished. The watching spellbinders were generous with their applause. Only one section of the vast room responded with less enthusiasm: her own classmates.
Ana shimmered back into view. She bowed to the judges and took a seat as far away from her third year classmates as possible.
Mud crabs and little fishes! They think I’m showing off.
Well, not much…
I can’t help being better at magic than they are.
That was the problem. Ana wasn’t just good at magic. She was great. Stupendous. Amazingly brilliant. If she made an occasional mistake she might have fitted in better. But that meant denying her gift, and magic was as much a part of Ana as her brown eyes and blue-green hair. She couldn’t imagine life without it. Nothing compared to the buzz when words and sigils combined and her fingers and toes tingled with power.
The dojo walls flashed silver and displayed her result…Artistry: 10, Execution: 10. No deductions. Total: 20. A perfect score.
The judging continued. No one scored higher than 16. Contestants came back to the benches and sat down with their friends, ruefully shrugging or giggling. Ana shrank into herself, glowering. It was lonely at the top.
Because of her ability Ana had been fast tracked through Entry level and First and Second Year. After six months at the Academia she was promoted to Third year, aged only twelve. Everyone else was fifteen and had well-established friendship groups.
The last apprentice completed their attempt (7, 6, - 2 = 11). After the judges conferred, the silver walls filled with the name of each third year and their results for Comprehension (of magical texts), Retention and Recitation (of magical texts) and Invisibility 102.
It was no contest, really.
‘The award for outstanding third year apprentice this term goes to ---‘
Ana was already on her feet, smoothing down her tunic.
‘—Ana Gris! Congratulations, Ana. Please come forward.’
Her award was another decorated scroll to add to her growing collection.
Dame Masselina thanked the audience for coming and wished all the apprentices a happy end of term holiday.
Tomorrow Ana would set out on her contrapony for the long journey home. She was looking forward to spending two weeks with her blood family—Ma, Pa and her three much older brothers. She loved her Ma and Pa, and adored the way her brothers they teased her so affectionately. Although, compared to the wonders of the spellbinder’s tower, the farmhouse near Lake Treganowan where her family bred and trained contraponies was small and rather smelly. Try as she might, Ana was beginning to feel a distance growing between her and her bloods. It was something that happened to all bloom children from non-bloom families.
......... now the story continues