Dark, gritty, and altogether brutal, Steel, Blood and Fire is an archetypal dark fantasy novel. In the first chapter, one of the main character’s hands and feet are amputated, and the story continues in similar fashion from there onward. The setting is fantasy grounded in muddy reality, although there is a vein of consequential magic that adds a little sorcery to this otherwise swords-based world. If you’re familiar with Game of Thrones then you’re familiar with Allen Betchelder’s style; multiple character perspectives, inter-weaved story lines, and a healthy dose of murder. It’s a fantastic modern-style medieval fantasy, and a definite read for any fan of the genre.
When I began Steel, Blood and Fire, my first thought was, “Wow, this is a lot like Game of Thrones.” Then I began to think, “Or is it more of a Witcher book?” As I continued through the novel, I began to decide it was a blend of both. By the end, I thought that perhaps it was its own thing.
The book isn’t afraid to touch on the brutal. In fact, it seems to revel in it. Blood flows freely; rape is the buzzword of the day. It’s a mature novel for sure although it doesn’t quite cross the line, but regularly toes it. A lesser author would have toppled their novel over into prurient pulp.
The writing is well-executed, with the author’s own voice clearly shining through. There is one trap that Allen Betchelder tends to fall into, and that’s the ‘fear of said’. Every other sentence seems to find a new synonym – characters question, murmur, mutter, bellow, but words are never just ‘said’. It’s awkward to read, and tends to draw you out of conversations that should flow naturally.
In any perspective-hopping plot, characters are one of the most important factors. Fortunately, Steel, Blood and Fire features a strong and memorable, if slightly generic, cast. They come off as slightly one-dimensional, particularly towards the start of the novel, and the inclusion of a comedy group of village bumpkins – who of course meet with terrible fates – struck me as being an attempt at generating some frisson with the grim background. Other than those minor niggles, the diversity and depth of the cast begins to truly shine through around the midway point; from here onward they become much more than the sum of their parts.
Despite my above criticisms, I really did enjoy the story, and it quickly became engaging only a few pages in. If you’re a fan of the genre, particularly Game of Thrones-esque fantasy, you’ll certainly enjoy Betchelder’s offering.
Pages: 548 | ASIN: B00AW53RMQ
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Apples Don’t Sing–They Shine, by George Mardo, is a classic example of literary fiction. The story follows a family over generations from 1930 all the way to 1990. Some of the story does feel dated, but that might be because of historical events that frame the novel. In some ways, it is hard to simply summarize a novel that at its’ core deals with family drama of coming together in times of war and drifting apart after. Mainly it deals with Marie, a German immigrant and her struggles with her son and the family business.
Overall, Mardo does a great job with managing what would normally be an overly complicated or possibly self-indulgent topic to write on. The drama of an inter-generational story is more than enough for the reader to follow on and enjoy. The family does become expansive as it should through the decades, but remembering names and their relations can become cumbersome after a while. The conflict between the characters should be familiar to any reader who has a family and especially one that has first generation immigrants.
The story at times may seem U.S. centralized, but Mardo expands his scope by including a Ukrainian Monastery, family drama in England, and even venturing into South America. The global scale of his story enhances how far reaching and long the narrative is as we follow the rise and fall of family unity and how families change over the decades. As with any drama set over decades, the story can run the risk of being too brief or skimming over the details of the day to day. Mardo falls into this somewhat by giving us broad, quick snippets of events that happen. He sometimes jumps years ahead in the narrative to get to another point. He may have been able to do this with more skill to not create such choppy pacing, though it does lend to the novel’s biographical story of the families of the Nesbits and Reynolds.
In some ways, the main conflict involving the family’s business, Reynolds Enterprise, tends to become too central to what the novel is striving to be, an intimate tale of family and the relations that bind. The focus does seem to shift towards the end and recenter the novel, which is a saving grace.
This work is perfect for those that enjoy tales told over generations involving many different characters. A pure drama that is accessible to anyone of any age.
Pages: 204 | ASIN: B0190UKORY
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Fleeing the Shadows is a satisfying follow-up in the continuing Dangerous Loyalties series as our brave heroine flees with her family into the Kentucky frontier. What direction did you want to take this novel in that was different from the first book?
After the danger caused by Papa’s covert activities in book one, I wanted readers thrust headlong into survival mode with thirteen-year-old Mary and her family.
The family is always running from something and danger seems to lurk around every bend. Did you plan the plot twists before writing or did they develop organically?
I used a rough outline to keep the story moving but allowed surprises to happen naturally.
Mary continues to carry the bulk of the family’s worries as her Papa makes increasingly difficult decisions. What were some obstacles that you felt were important for her characters development?
Mary struggles with PTSD. She must deal with each fear and keep going. Mary rises to the task of taking charge of her siblings when Papa must care for Momma. When Mary shuts down in fear, she allows her family to care for her. Her ultimate challenge leads her to face real and imagined shadows to save her family.
Where will book three in the series take readers?
Mary hopes life at Fort Boonesborough will fulfill her dreams of a peaceful life with friends and suitors. She has her heart set on a certain someone and is determined to win him for her future husband, but Papa and the American Revolution say otherwise.
She blames herself for the bounty onPapa’s head.
Book Two in the Dangerous Loyalties series–a historical novel for teens–continues the riveting story of Daughters of the American Revolution patriot Mary Shirley McGuire.
It’s late summer in the Alleghany Highlands, 1775. Colonial Virginia has resolved to support the American Revolutionary cause for liberty. The British are determined to retain control of the fur trade and keep frontiersmen fighting Indians instead of joining the Continentals.
Thirteen-year-old Mary Shirley is still recovering from emotional wounds inflicted when she risked her life delivering traitorous dispatches. She trusted the wrong men, and now the family must flee Indian Creek to stay ahead of British Loyalist who seek her papa’s life.
But they can’t risk being captured by taking the main road to Daniel Boone’s trail that leads into Kentucky territory. They must endure the more dangerous and grueling hunter’s path that leads to rough frontier forts along the Clinch River.
Passions are ignited, friendships are formed, and shocking lessons are learned.
Papa ignores the warnings to wait for other travelers, causing Mary’s anxieties to worsen. Once they cross the Cumberland Gap, they’re at the mercy of God and the Chickamauga Cherokee to make it to Fort Boonesborough alive. Frontiersmen tell them the settlement of Fort Boonesborough isn’t defendable, and Mary doesn’t want to continue. Papa is confident that the Indians are too busy preparing for winter to raid.
A few days from the fort, Mary is feeling hopeful for the future. Then disaster strikes, leaving the family devastated and heartbroken. There is no other choice. Mary must lay aside paralyzing fear and excruciating pain to save her family before time runs out.
Fleeing the Shadows (Dangerous Loyalties Book Two) invites readers to experience traveling the dangerous wilderness trails with Mary and her family through thick wild forests of Southwest Virginia and into Kentucky territory that leads straight into a Native American hornet’s nest. Mary just wants to make it Fort Boonesborough and live in peace.
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The Legend of the Three Roses follows a magician’s apprentice and an assassin on a thrilling journey through a new series of books you’ve written. What was the inspiration for this book and the series that follows?
The story contains themes about morality and spirituality that I’ve been thinking about and wanted to “get out there.” My original idea was for a really grand epic featuring several parties all traveling to the same goal for different reasons. It would take place in a grand empire which grew prosperous due to a kind of sci fi concept. I never really took the idea seriously and hadn’t thought about it for a long time until I was suddenly inspired to simplify the story by making it about a boy and a girl, like many great stories. And I must confess, I borrowed a few ideas from some of the recent fantasy books I’ve been reading—things about medieval society and magic wards.
I really enjoyed the medieval setting of the novel. What themes did you want to capture while creating the world your characters live in?
I can’t say the world “Three Roses” takes place in is an accurate reflection of medieval Europe. I imagine the brick buildings of St. Mannington have a strong, advanced type of cement not found in the Middle Ages, when constructors commonly used mortar. Crossbows also weren’t around, but since this is a kind of make-believe Earth, I felt free to include any kind of invention as long as it was reasonably outdated in the modern world. Medieval Europe was of course a very Christian world, and I imagine many young people were like my main character, Kane, who is nearly pious to a fault. But in spite of being beholden to a religion that promotes peace and forgiveness, Europe was a very cruel place where people were treated like mere commodities and terribly punished. A quick Google search for “medieval torture devices” would definitely show you what I mean!
I always enjoy magic that is well thought out and believable. What decisions went into creating the magic system you use in your story?
The magic system was mostly inspired by a certain video game where potions are toxic. If you drink a potion, you can gain a boost to your stats or immunity to debuffs, but it costs you a little of your health. I never really thought of the possibility of potions being poisonous, and I thought it was an excellent way of keeping magic in check. I never want magic in my stories to be too powerful, because if it if it is, it can lead to story problems. When you have characters seem like gods, they can seem unrelatable and mere tools of plot convenience.
Where does book 2 in The Three Roses trilogy take the characters and when will it be available?
Right now, book 2 is all in my head. It takes place in Lonsaran, the rival kingdom of Kane and Callie’s homeland. They’ll have little choice but to settle there and look out for each other. The good news is that they’ll discover what the Three Roses are; the bad news is that Rainer the assassin is still alive … and he’s thirsty for revenge.
Four years ago, the Son of Man returned to Earth, seemingly to begin a new age of enlightenment. But two years later, he vanished without a trace …
Today, nineteen-year-old Kane Bailey–a nobleman and sorcerer’s apprentice–works and studies in his master’s tower in the middle of his nation’s capital. In spite of making a few mistakes (such as nearly blowing up a spellchamber), he shows the potential of being a great sorcerer. But his dreams of working with magic come to an end when he’s caught in the middle of an assassination attempt on the King’s life.
Upon getting captured by the assassin, Kane is swept up by lofty ambitions, terrible greed, and maddening bloodlust. Cut off from his sorcery, he’ll need to rely on his wits and knowledge to survive, as well as the trust and friendship of a young woman who may be taking on more than she can handle.
And a question lingers: What are the “Three Roses,” and what do they have to do with the impending war?
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Book Award
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Decades after the fateful battle with the ruinous shadow monster, the Neverlanders are living comfortably in the afterglow of victory and harmony. As families grow and tribes evolve, the congruous balance amoung civilizations has nourished fairies, men, and mermaids alike. All good things must inevitably come to an end though, and with the abruptness of a sudden treacherous storm, the Neverlanders once again find themselves prey to a cataclysmic force, an invading army of Malomen. Author Juna Jinsei returns to the Neverland series with Underlord of the Netherworld, once again brilliantly melding age old wisdom and youthful spirit into this daring tale of life after Peter Pan.
As a fan of the first title in the series, The Essence of Neverland, I had naturally high hopes for this sequel. There was a charming poignancy to the first book, as impactful as it was impressive. Author Jinsei certainly did not disappoint with the caliber of thoughtfulness infused into this followup story. The profoundness of self-discovery is every bit as present, although the lessons themselves have shifted somewhat. Again, I really have to applaud Jinsei’s remarkable talent for exploring significant themes with such clever insight and casual relatability.
Although Underlord of the Netherworld may be lacking some of the more macabre moments entailed in its predecessor, the story is still steeped with hearty action, interjected on occasion by gut-wrenching moments of tragedy. The invasion of Malomen, a swarthy society of bloodlusting sea creatures, has brought with it the tides of war. Despite the love and unity shared among the Neverlanders, the cruel reality of battle leaves many villages devastated, ravaged by the unwelcome army. These passages were particularly moving to me, written with such vividness and sincerity that I couldn’t help but to imagine vast cities of war-torn wreckage, not unlike those we sometimes see on the news. In fact, much of the conflict within The Underlord of the Netherworld can be paralleled to our society’s current political struggles. Despite their progression and intelligence, the Malomen have little regard for the lives of the foreign land-faring civilizations, seeking to claim those territories as their own. Their lust for conquest is driven by greed, and fueled by ego, pride, and racial tension. I was incredibly impressed at Jinsei’s ability to craft such strong parallels to modern society, while remaining loyal to the setting and tone of Neverland and its inhabitants.
True to the style of the first novel, Underlord of the Netherworld earnestly explores the powers of communication, compassion, and community. Without spoiling any of the juicy bits, I will say that the resolve comes together beautifully, with a respectful nod to the opening title. It is almost incomprehensible to me how casually Jinsei weaves the severity of self-discovery into the light-hearted nature of the characters. Without being too stuffy or, alternatively, too childish, Underlord of the Netherworld is the perfect balance of altruistic deeds and daring actions. I’d happily recommend this book and will be crossing my fingers for the next title in the series!
Pages: 248 | ASIN: B06XS121SH
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A Guardian Falls by Rebecca Tran is a fantasy novel and the second book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series. In the first novel, we are introduced to our main character Mara, who is seeking revenge after watching her father’s murder. She gives up her privileged lifestyles in order to seek justice. The second starts soon after the events of the first novel, with Mara’s betrothed recovering from his injuries after she has rescued him from her father’s killer, and her self-doubt in her abilities to finish what she has started.
The novel starts well, with a good re-introduction of characters and an update in the current situation. Tran’s writing is easy to follow, and you’re given a sense of the characters as soon as you meet them. Mara is also a likeable main character, and one of the reasons for this is that she is not a perfect or even confident lead. She doubts herself and her destiny throughout the novel, but all this makes for a more realistic and endearing character. It is much easier to empathize with a character who is self-critical and questions themselves, and this makes for an enjoyable read. Mara’s relationships also makes her more likeable. Her relationship with Kess is sweet and you find yourself invested in it – the novel starts with them having been in an argument, but their quick reconciliation is a subtle way to show you the strength of their relationship.
One thing the author does well is her ability to write both long scenes of in-depth dialogue between two characters and epic battle sequences. Both of these will hold your attention, and flow easily. The dialogue is good, and anything the characters say is believable and feels like a true conversation. Similarly, any action is written well, and is not too over the top.
The only problem I found with this novel is the amount of characters there are. It can sometimes be hard to follow so many characters in one book, and occasionally things can become muddled and you start to feel you’re in information overload. However, this does not affect the enjoyability of the novel to a high degree, but it is something you need to concentrate more on as you read.
Overall, this is a well balance book, with a good degree of both action and dialogue that is paced well. You will enjoy both the action sequences and the calmer, more character driven moments. The characters are strong, and our main character is likeable and relatable. The plot is interesting pushed along by some thrilling twists. If you are looking for a good fantasy read then you can’t go wrong with this one.
Pages: 394 | ASIN: B072LJV5Z5
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GROND – The Raven High is a sci-fi book set in the future where pollution has caused giant storms across the planet. What was your inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I have a lot of inspiration sources, mostly the Golden Age Sci-Fi and the movie of the eighties, from the “Masking” of Henry Kuttner to Thing and Aliens. But most of all I was influenced by the old and almost forgotten Young Adult Sci-Fi – Earth Star Voyager. I saw it when I was at school, and loved much more than Star Wars. This should be a good sci-fi for teenagers – exciting, realistic, without superheroes, but with smart and courageous heroes. And it was Earth Star Voyager that I first saw the idea of a catastrophic climate change and the search for salvation in space. I was so pleased that I decided to create the same story. The same, but completely my own. No sooner said than done.
I recently reviewed Earth Star Voyager for the first time in twenty years. And he’s still good.
So, if you are looking for inspiration for a great space adventure – you are welcome.
Olga’s nanny is an android that I genuinely started to care for towards the end of the novel. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
Creating Olga, I wanted to get rid of two obsessive stereotypes of teenage literature.
Firstly, the main character isn’t the despised loser or ordinary schoolgirl, who suddenly finds herself in the center of the universal conspiracy.
Secondly, Olga’s superhuman abilities don’t fall on her in one fine morning, free and without consequences. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch in her world.
The image of Arina combines the features of an ideal mother and ideal teacher. She really loves Olga, so, when necessary, she can be very strict and demanding of her ward, otherwise, Olga won’t stand the load of enormous responsibility.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the Earth is ravaged by pollution. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
Morality is very simple – dreams and good intentions won’t change the world for the better. But the world can be changed for the better by persistent daily work. There are thousands of brave book heroes who save the world by simply believing in themselves and accomplishing a great feat in the battle against the system. Olga also saves the world, but in a completely different way – just goes on the next shift at her space plant. Day by day.
This story was written in Russian and translated to English. What were the challenges you faced when translating?
Most of the difficulties were caused by two things – compliance with the size of phrases and slang expressions, to which it is hard to make a direct translation.
The Raven High is book 1 in the GROND series. Where does book two take the story?
In fact, the GROND story begins with the second book, GROND: The Blitzkrieg. And at the beginning of this story, Olga will be forced to leave her orbital home, join the gang of space mercenaries and take part in the brutal war of the Martian colonists for independence. It’ll be cool!
In the year 2086, Earth is exhausted. The seas have been emptied, the bedrock and soil stripped of their resources, and the superheated atmosphere churns with terrible storms. Those who can afford to do so live in the limbo of virtual reality, and the billions who suffer in poverty have no work, no clean water, and no security from the chaos.
The only hope for those trapped on a dying Earth are the Changed—the seven bioengineered post-humans who work in their separate manufacturing facilities orbiting high above the planet. Raised from birth for their work and fully matured at ten years old, their genius provides the nanomaterials that have begun to cleanse Earth of the pollutants that have wiped out almost the entire ecosphere.
But for Olga Voronov, youngest of the Changed, the isolation and endless toil are not the greatest of her challenges. Down on Earth there are those who resent and fear her talents—and would prefer that humanity not be given the second chance that only she could make possible …
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Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody is a genre-crossing novel with elements of over-the-top action, science fiction, and dark humor as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
The science fiction part was planned, but the rest evolved. I started out with a loose goal to try and write something like Neuromancer, but it ended up being a lot less serious.
Suzy is a fugitive on the run and takes no crap from anyone. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight her character’s development?
The situations involving her tendency to be impulsive – her inclination to shoot first, ask no questions, and then shoot again. Also, the situations involving trust. Suzy isn’t very trusting, but it’s hard to get through a good fight without a few friends, and she needs to deal with that.
There was rarely a dull moment in the story and I enjoyed the rapid fire action. How did you balance action with storytelling?
I try to make the action all about how the characters react to the stress. The real story is in the characters, otherwise it’s just a bunch of empty gunfire and explosions. To paraphrase Jim Butcher, “The action is just a light show.”
Also, I think action comes in different forms. Two people talking is action – as long as there’s tension, or it’s entertaining in a way that relates to the plot, or both. Kurt Vonnegut once said that “Every line should either reveal character or advance the plot.” I think about that quote a lot.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have outlines for four new books, but I’m not sure which one I want to do. One of the outlines is for another Suzy Spitfire story, and I might do it. It was a fun book to write. It would be available next year.
When outlaw Suzy Spitfire discovers her father was murdered after creating a super-duper artificial intelligence, she races across the solar system in search of the brain he built—but it’s a rough ride, and she’s soon forced to tangle with pirates, predators, and her father’s killer—as well as a man she thinks she can love.
Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody is a smash-bang sci-fi adventure filled with action, intrigue, and a dose of dark humor.
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Black Ink Pearl the screen play was adapted from your award winning novel Black Inked Pearl: A Girl’s Quest. What were some challenges you encountered while adapting your novel?
Well, first I had to learn something about screenplay writing, so so different from a novel. Hadn’t a clue!! But was passionate about doing it so signed up at more than I could afford (worth it) for a course with Voyage Media. It was brilliant. Though this one wasn’t the script I got mentored on then (by marvelous and incredibly patient – I really was clueless to start – Kathleen McLaughlin) they must have taught me the craft well as have just – wait for it – heard that my ‘Black Ink Pearl’ script (subtly changed title from the book, nothing clever or deep, just to differentiate it) the Genre Winner for scifi/fantasy in the internationally acclaimed (whew!) Capital Fund Screen Play Contest 2017. Doesn’t mean it gets produced, but its certainly a step closer. It will now – this is the process for the winners – get put in front of producers (who normally, don’t I know it, ignore any sent-in scripts) in the leading companies worldwide, including China. Still looking for other producers to consider it, so let me know if you know of any. It’s a great read, honest, fantastic in both senses, great actin and characters. Anyway hold your thumbs.
Am just finishing a second, this time based on a Walter Scott novel. If adapting a novel the trick, I now know, and it’s a good one, enjoyable, is to leave out two thirds of the scenes of the original and rewrite, perhaps utterly change, most of the rest but at the same time still be inspired by that original story that first caught and moved you. Also always always always – so hard for a novelist – to show, never to tell; show through actions words, and not adverbs or attributed (by you ) inner emotions (if it’s written properly the emotion comes through in the dialogue and the acting, leave it to them). Have had such fun learning all this and seeing the characters of the novels I love through new eyes.
Also to use that funny layout (‘Final draft’ it’s called) that is apparently the ‘industry standard’. And not too many pages – 100 seems to be about right for a full-length feature film.
And don’t expect anyone to be prepared to read it, do it just for love and passion. All the same keep trying and (essential) get as much much feedback and as many times as you can (I had really great fdvice from WEScreenplay judges, not too expensive) and don’t even think of entering contests till you’ve got a high mark from one of them (I learned that the hard way
Have been encouraged since then to read somewhere that if you’re successful in one genre people may tell you to stick to that, but actually you’re likely to be successful in another, so – but only if you really WANT to – don’t’t be afraid to try it.
Wow – how did I get into all this from one simple question …
Film rights are held by Garn Press. Where are you in the process of turning this screenplay into a movie?
Holding our thumbs that we get a deal. We just just might …
If we do get an option, we’d divide the proceeds between us in our agreed proportion, while the (lesser) amount for the screenplay, in which I hold the copyright, would come to me. The good thing about an option for, say, 3-6 months, is that even if they decide ot to proceed with the movie we get to keep that money and once the option time expires can try elsewhere..
The big hope to find a producer with funding and enthusiasm to actually make the movie (or just possibly, a television series, but would be best for the big screen). Both I and the publishers (Director is wonderful Denny Taylor, by now a real friend) would both love to see our mystic fantastic story disseminatedto wider audiences, I think it would really really work as a movie and that is inspirational sybolism – not pushed at them – would get through: but we’d ONLY want it if as a high-concept movie, we’re not in it just for some trashy commercial fix however lucrative.
Let’s say you’ve got the movie deal and you have to pick some actors for your film.Which actress/actors do you think would be perfect fits for your characters?
Emilia Clarke (fabulous in ‘Game of Thrones’ – also filmed in Ireland as this one could and should be) ) as the lead, Kate. She;’s interested I hear
Daphne Alexander (now gathering a great reputation in London and Broadway) as Deirdre, Kate’s mother (or as Kate if Emilia couldn’t), sh’ed be brilliant, and warms to the novel, I know she’d be prepared to be involved.
Idris Elba as the hero Christy – he’s such an intelligent as well as talented actor/person, and shares my feeling for Africa.
Judi Dench (I was at school with her, so know her and her commitments, she just might be persuaded) as the Queen of Heaven.
Rawiri Paratene as (the complex and difficult) character of) God. He’s less well known up here than in his native New Zealand but I thought he was the real star as the grandfather/tribal chief in ‘Whale Rider’
Do you have any other plans for your novel Black Inked Pearl: A Girl’s Quest?
Absolutely: an audio book is on the way with a brilliant illustrator, also a colouring book around the novel’s key themes. It’s already had a spin-off in its prize-winning fairytale prequel, ‘Pearl of the seas’ (that will soon be an audio book too, with musical background), and there will now be a whole series, taking children, gradually, through aspects of the story from age nought upwards in a series of (probably) five children’s books, text by me, fabulous illustrations again by amazing silk artist Rachel Backshall.
All these just arrived, no deliberate planning by me. Enjoy it.
Bye for now everyone, get back with any comments or questions.
An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking. After the opening rejection, Kate recalls her Irish upbringing, her convent education, and her coolly-controlled professional success, before her tsunami-like realisation beside an African river of the emotions she had concealed from herself and that she passionately and consumingly loved the man she had rejected.
Searching for him she visits the kingdom of beasts, a London restaurant, an old people’s home, back to the misty Donegal Sea, the heavenly archives, Eden, and hell, where at agonising cost she saves her dying love. They walk together toward heaven, but at the gates he walks past leaving her behind in the dust. The gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her in the dust, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) he is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.
On a secret back way to heaven guided by a little beetle, Kate repeatedly saves her still scornful love, but at the very last, despite Kate’s fatal inability with numbers and through an ultimate sacrifice, he saves her from the precipice and they reach heaven. Kate finally realises that although her quest for her love was not vain, in the end she had to find herself – the unexpected pearl.
The novel, born in dreams, is interlaced with the ambiguity between this world and another, and increasingly becomes more poetic, riddling and dreamlike as the story unfolds. The epilogue alludes to the key themes of the novel – the eternity of love and the ambiguity between dream and reality.
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