About the author, Ian P Buckingham, Legend of the Lost book 1, Social media and publicity, Uncategorized

A Children’s Book Enjoyed by Adults!

Ian was interviewed by a journalist on behalf of a publisher, recently.

What’s your favourite thing about writing children’s fiction?

Ooh, lots of things. Just one? Well at the top of the list has to be knowing that the work will help young imaginations expand and grow, hopefully inspiring another generation of storytellers as authors like Blyton, Lewis, Tolkien and Rowling etc have inspired me.

What has the response been like so far for Legend of the Lost?

I’m very pleased to say that it’s attracted the reactions I’d hoped for when the children and I first committed the ideas to paper and planned the trilogy.

Comments like “compelling from start to end”,“beautifully written” and “couldn’t put it down”are great to see in the reviews on Amazon, Book Guild bookshop and feedback on social media and in person.

It really is pleasing that adults are enjoying reading the book and am especially delighted to hear of parents reading the book to and with their children as I really wanted it to be a collaborative experience. In my view there’s nothing quite like parents and children exploring a magical adventure together.

When did you realise that you wanted to become a published author?

I’ve been published in more high-brow, adult genres before, but I’ve since discovered that apparently when I was a little boy myself, I said that I would write books for children (so I’m now reminded).

Lilly

Whatever the type of book there’s really something special about watching a project catch fire from a spark of an idea to something that will spread around the world lighting up dark corners of the imagination.

Now, with the wonders of social media, authors can receive feedback and connect with readers much easier. It really is lovely to receive photos of the books from all sorts of exotic destinations, often featuring local landmarks or indeed crazy pets, as we have been.

One very lovely lady has been reading the book to the animals at her animal rescue centre in the US. She says it soothes them. Who could have predicted that?

Is there any advice you would give to other writers/how have you found the publishing experience?

First and foremost, believe in yourself and just do it. Write! There is no given technique or approach. Sure, read a lot and be informed by other voices. But find what works for you – whether that is scribbling in notebooks when the creative impulse strikes or having a routine and schedule if you must. Only you know yourself. Go with what feels right. But write.

I remember the story of Joseph Heller who wrote one of the Iconic Books of all time, Catch 22. Famously he jotted scenes on postcard-sized cue cards which he kept in a shoe box. Allegedly he dropped them one day and rather than re-arrange as a linear narrative, he wrote up the story in the random order in which the cards fell. True or not, this illustrates the point. Do what works for you. But write.

For me, the best part of publishing, as a process, is the creative collaboration. For example, I have strong opinions about each project including the visuals. When I received the first draft of the cover for Legend of the Lost, it wasn’t what I imagined at all. I could tell there was a degree of trepidation about the proposal, perhaps because of my background in brand and advertising. But it was actually better than anything I had pictured. Jack did a great job. I love it, and the feedback has been unanimously positive. I made a couple of supplementary suggestions and we agreed the finished product in a few minutes. THAT’s the power of collaboration

LOLpiledhigh

What’s next in the writing pipeline for you?

Well, I committed to writing a trilogy and Legend of the Lostis the first part. I’ve written the next two, The Ends of the Earth being the second part. Without spilling any spoilers, the adventure continues in Cornwall and Africa. I’ve promised our growing community of readers that I will aim to finalise the sequel next year.

I can’t wait to see what the team does with the visuals and am sure the story will evolve further during the magic of the editing process and as the readership grows.

I’m personally excited to watch this complex family develop as individuals and a group over time as they confront and overcome fresh challenges. Because as any parent knows, growing up is filled with twists and turns of fate. We need to be reminded, from time-to-time, especially during the festive season, that the real secret to finding our magic is not to lose heart, not to shut down in the face of adulting and to keep believing.

Legend of the Lost is available in hard and soft versions tonline via all top retailers, Waterstones and from the Book Guild okshop.

Reviews, Social media and publicity, Uncategorized

Mums Share the Magic

Delighted thatLegend of the Lost has been recently reviewed by two busy and inspirational mothers.

One is a rebel scribe and home schooling champion from Wales, Kelly Allen. The other, a very widely read Mumsnet influencer, Jenny from the highly acclaimed The Brick Castle.

Both Kelly and Jenny give considered accounts of the first book in the changeling trilogy.CheshamLOL

Jenny published a detailed and well thought through analysis of the book’s appeal to children aged around 9+ :

Throughout the book you know that something big is going to happen, but can’t quite put your finger on what it’s going to be. The description of mystical folk and their abilities is underplayed and that gives it more of a realism somehow. You just accept who can fly, or transform, and learn more alongside some of the characters as they are pushed to their limits and discover what they are really capable of.

beaman-5

Coincidentally, Jenny hails from Derbyshire where some of the inspiration for the story and its characters originated.

Given she is also a home tutor, we were especially delighted by the way Kelly summarises the book’s appeal:

I really love how this book is written. I’ts full of so many beautiful descriptions and we immediately fell in love with the little family. The writing is spot on for the age range it’s aimed at (7-11), even though I think it’s a perfect read no matter what your age!

There’s so much action and adventure throughout that it’s hard to put it down, but this is a good thing! I’d say it’s a pretty perfect read for any family with a sense of adventure and heart…

Please do pop over to both of their sites to read the reviews in full and to catch up with all the very interesting publications, competitions and other activities they champion on behalf of children in the 7-11 and young adult age ranges.

Guests, Reviews, Social media and publicity

Different genres. Similar magic.

We’re very pleased to feature a guest post, especially as it has been written by fellow author Keith Anthony, whose debut novel, Times and Places was published last year.

It is a warm and deeply touching read with many serendipitous echoes of the key themes in Legend of the Lost.  Here, Keith explores those similarities…

In February 2018, my novel Times and Places  was published, in which Fergus (a late middle aged man) seeks to come to terms with the loss, a decade earlier, of his only child, twenty-four year old Justine. 

The chapters alternate between an exotic present-day cruise, taken by Fergus, and other key “times and places” in his and Justine’s lives over the years. 

Since losing his daughter, Fergus has become increasingly anxious, and he hopes this idyllic holiday will help him conquer his nerves.  In fact, a series of bizarre events and close confinement with his fellow passengers – particularly an overbearing, somehow spiderish woman he nicknames the “Arachnid Lady” – bring him to a transformational crisis, a point of change.

I explore what it might be like to lose a loved one long before their time, and examine the questions of faith such a trauma would pose. 

I wanted to do so within an accessible book which, as well as deploying pathos, was rich in observational humour, romance, spiced with gothic horror and which followed a number of different strands to weave around each other, converging neatly at the end. 

The choice of an alternating chapter format allowed my story to visit diverse locations, enabling me to capture and compare the rich beauty of our world.

Times and Places is published by the Book Guild and each month I look for their latest standout publications. 

There is a certain kinship between authors sharing a small publisher, and the variety is astonishing.  In this way, I came across Legend of t Lost and fellow author Ian P Buckingham. 

I was first drawn to its cover and enigmatic title, but disappointed to discover it was aimed at older children and younger adults… alas, not me!  Yet I still felt an appeal. 

I started to follow and exchange messages with Ian on Twitter.  We connected over a mutual enthusiasm for UK wildlife and before long, as Ian reflected on similarities between our work, I decided – whatever my age – to give Legend of the Lost a try and I’m very pleased I did.

I don’t know why some adults are reticent to admit to reading fantasy or children’s books. The Harry Potter phenomenon should have put paid to that. Nevertheless, you might expect a young person’s fantasy novel to be very different fromy adult fiction, my genre. Yet it soon became apparent our books have a spirit and several themes in common. 

They both have a journey and discovery motif, they both have loss and discovery at their core and in addition, both are part set in West Cornwall with their hearts in the Chiltern countryside. What’s more, in the respective books, nature is magical, but vulnerable. 

Of course, in  Legend of the Lost, as well as people and animals, our world is shared simultaneously by faerie-folk, nymphs, mermaids, witches and werebeasts of every description – there is a super-natural element, but it remains paralell to the natural just as the pastoral and the civil run side by side in mine.

Foxes make brief but charismatic appearances in both books, as my cover implies, and Ian’s caricature of Vulpe the vixen is spot on:

“Foxes are neither dogs nor cats, neither weak nor strong, neither fast nor slow.  They are, in many ways, the best of all those animals and tread a fine line between most things, including the so-called forces for good and ill”.

An underlying theme in Legend of the Lost is how, too often, human industries poison and pollute the natural world, literally turning nature bad in a variety of ways both literal and metaphoric.  I too tried to capture man’s environmental impact by taking my idealised vision of Slovenia (a country I love) and comparing it with crowded southern England. 

On a visit there, Justine’s boyfriend marvels at the unspoiled Slovenian countryside which:

“…left him jealous that his own country’s rural culture was rather less valued, ever increasingly squeezed by expanding cities, and scarred by the transport links between them.”

As its title suggests, a feeling of time and place is distilled into my novel.  I was struck that the same could be sensed in Ian’s.  For example, on the ship, Fergus dances with his wife and reflects back on the parties of his youth:

“…there how you danced mattered, here it didn’t.  He pictured his struggling youthful self without envy, he was happy to be when and where he was, in this time and place…”

While, in Legend of the Lost, reflecting on impactful moments in her young life, Holly muses how:

“She loved a mystery and what a delight that this one was right here and now in her favourite time and place.”

I hope also that both books, within their wild imaginings, project important nuggets of truth. 

I was struck by Ian’s conclusion, echoing his earlier description of the complexity of the character of the duplicitous fox:

“One of the gravest mistakes people make in life is to assume that people are all good or all bad.  The truth is that sometimes bad things happen to people we thought of as good and great things can happen to those we formerly considered evil.”  

On the face of it, there is not a fantastic creature, not a faerie, nymph or mermaid to be found in Times and Places. Yes the books are different and target distinct ages, yet I do think they are visited by that same spirit, that of our natural – even super-natural – world.  Its siren voice calls out, reminding us of what is important and that, like the fox or Werewytch in  Legend of the Lost and the Arachnid Lady in Times and Places, nothing and nobody is entirely good or bad. 

Ian’s whimsical and fantastical settings were enchanting. Legend of the Lost is beautifully written, with grown-up lessons for children and for adults who have retained their sense of wonder.  It reminded me how we learn so many of our values from the great books we read as children, whether with adults or independently.

While our two books have their own, individual messages as well, I’m pleased they have such cross-over, that they share a magic I so wanted Times and Places to project! 

Genre labels and categories can be miseading at times. Hopefully, to readers of any age, both books offer reflections on the pressures facing the world we humans dominate, but which we share with our animal neighbours… and, who knows, maybe the faerie folk who tend them too?

About the author, Ian P Buckingham, Legend of the Lost book 1, Uncategorized

Your Chance to Appear in the Changeling Trilogy

The first book in the Legend of the Lost trilogy continues to attract great feedback and reviews. So, as we enter the new year, thoughts naturally turn to the sequel.

Book II, The Ends of the Earth is set to preview in 2019 and promises more thrills as the adventure shifts to the African continent.

As a special thank you to our growing readership, we are excited to announce that we are starting a unique competition.

Ian is offering one lucky reader the exclusive chance to feature in one of the sequels either in person or, in keeping with the central theme of the series, to nominate a loved one or family member.

The successful individual will be written into the story line and will appear alongside their fictional heroes.

To be eligible, entrants simply have to be able to provide proof of purchase of Legend of the Lost and to contact us by email, using the heading “Feature Competition”. They will then receive an email from us with a question from the first book.

Simple!

The winner will be drawn by Ian, at random, from the group of successful entrants after the closing date of Feb 18, 2019.

So please spread the word far and wide with your friends and family , may the magic flow through you and very best of luck!

Legend of the Lost book 1, Social media and publicity, Uncategorized

Witches @ Halloween #itscomplicated

Images of witches have appeared in various forms throughout history, from snaggle-toothed, hunched, hairy, wart-nosed women huddling over a cauldron of boiling liquid to cackling crones riding through the sky on brooms wearing pointy hats and capes.

Witches certainly have had a long history with Halloween.

witchhat

Legends tell of witches gathering twice a year when the seasons changed, on April 30 – the eve of May Day and the other was on the eve of October 31 – All Hallow’s Eve.

The witches would congregate on these nights, arriving on broomsticks, to celebrate a party hosted by the devil. Superstitions told of witches casting spells on unsuspecting people, transforming themselves into different forms and causing other magical mischief.

It was said that to meet a witch you had to put your clothes on wrong side out and you had to walk backwards on Halloween night. Then at midnight you would see a witch.

The black cat has long been associated with witches. Many superstitions have evolved about cats. It was believed that witches could change into cats. Some people also believed that cats were the spirits of the dead and acted as the witches’ familiar or bonded animal partner.

Witches-Gathering-original-ACEO

One of the best known superstitions is that  if a black cat was to cross your path you would have to turn around and go back because many people believe if you continued bad luck or even death would strike you. Yet in some village cultures black cats are seen as tokens of good luck, quite the opposite.

In pop culture, witches have been both dark and frightening but also a benevolent, nose-twitching, suburban housewife, an awkward teenager learning to control her powers and a trio of charmed sisters battling the forces of evil. So the  messages have been pretty mixed up.

 

BellatrixLestrange

The real history of witches, however, is dark and, often for the witches, deadly.

The early depictions of witches were people who practiced witchcraft, who used magic spells and called upon spirits for help or to bring about change.

Probably because of the competition with organised religion and conflicting belief which undermined many pagan belief systems, systems,  witches were depicted as doing the Devil’s work. But in reality, many, however, were simply natural healers or so-called “wise women” whose choice of profession and often healing practice using natural materials, was misunderstood.

Witches are found the world over, as the Legend of the Lost series explores, bringing the Werewytch and her minions to the attention of unwitting readers.

Modern-day witches of the Western World still struggle to shake their historical stereotype it seems, try as they may.

Most are said to practice Wicca and it is now an official religion in the North Americas. And they aren’t actually just women, many men identify as Wiccan too.

Wiccans famously avoid evil and the appearance of evil at all costs. Their motto is to “harm none,” and they strive to live a peaceful, tolerant and balanced life in tune with nature and humanity.

wicca

Many modern-day witches still perform witchcraft, but there’s seldom anything sinister about it. Their spells and incantations are often derived from their Book of Shadows, a 20th-century collection of wisdom and witchcraft, and can be compared to the act of prayer in other religions.

A modern-day witchcraft potion is more likely to be an herbal remedy for the flu instead of a hex to harm someone.

witch-shopping-apple-on-the-fairy-tale

Today’s witchcraft spells are usually used to stop someone from doing evil or harming themselves. Ironically, while it’s probable some historical witches used witchcraft for evil purposes, many may have embraced it for healing or protection against the immorality they were accused of.

SO, as you make your outfit choices for this witching season, consider that, like many things in life and most things in the faerie domain, witches and their association with the darker aspects of Halloween is complicated. There has to be some truth to the darker side of the folklore,. But if you accept that then you have to accept the notion of the benign and kindly witch simply trying to put those powers to good use in the local community.

The Legend of the Lost series has some fine examples of witches spanning generations and corners of the world.

They too, are not always what they at first appear to be.

Or are they…?

seawitch
*To celebrate Halloween, in honour of the witches of Legend of the Lost, we will give a signed and dedicated copy of the first book in the trilogy away to a person chosen at random from readers who leave a comment below or who like and re-tweet this post on twitter or Instagram.
Winner announced on Halloween night.
Legend of the Lost book 1, Social media and publicity, Uncategorized

Global Canine Capers

We all have our favourite dogs in fiction.

Whether it’s Lassie, Nanna, Lady. White Fang, Jock or Tramp, Scooby or Timmy of Enid Blyton fame, there’s something about man’s best friend in our books that helps to make them special.

Well, JJ of the Legend of the Lost trilogy is no exception.

ravenring1Whether it’s the influence of the Ravenring, JJ’s charisma, he also appears to be attracting his own fan club as we’ve had photographs sent in from canine pals in England, Wales, Ireland, Spain, the USA and now Australia.

One of our more dedicated readers and friend, Julie Levine even takes her copy of Legend of the Lost to the various dog re-homing centres she helps out at and supports in New Jersey, USA

Please do check her out on Instagram @juliesboomies as it’s very much a cause the changeling family would approve of wholeheartedly.

Here’s a few more photos for you to enjoy and yes, please do contact us and send in yours too if you’re so inspired.

The ancient Savage family members need all the help they can get to keep the evil bubbling up from the Firehills at bay, wherever it erupts on the planet next…….and hey, with help like this from Jonny in Australia (he’s the upside down one with his Kindle), the Earth is in safe hands….or paws….right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legend of the Lost book 1, Uncategorized

Badgers and books, two magical ingredients

Today sees the magical convergence of days celebrating two things I hold dear in life as it’s #BookshopDay and #NationalBadgerDay.

Legend of the Lost, for those of us in the know, has an ecological theme at its core. For there quite possibly would never have been a story had it not been for a strange toxic ailment leeching from the Firehills.

The unfortunate consequences of this magical malaise gives rise to what has come to be known as the werebeast army. And one of the most ferocious adversaries the changeling children have to face is the werebadger.

Badgers are ancient creatures, the subject of myth and lore worldwide. They are usually depicted as wise and kindly. In England badgers are variously known as Old Grey, reflecting their ghostly nocturnal presence, often heard rather than seen, or Brock, alluding to their famous monochrome colouration.

They are also known for their strength and indomitability, none more so than the legendary honey badger which has been known to attack lions!

We have had the good fortune to encounter wild badgers, both in the Ashridge Forest where Legend of the Lost is partially set, Berkhamsted Castle and on the Cornish Coastal Paths.

CheshamLOL.jpg

I also had a long conversation with a badger conservation volunteer at a recent book signing and one of my former colleagues now heads up the Woodland Trust, an influential voice for wildlife conservation in the UK.

But even if I hadn’t had such close encounters, how on earth could I ever leave these incredible creatures out of our magical journey?

For they are a hugely important part of the English natural order and  long may they be celebrated, as they deserve.