Legend of the Lost book 1, Social media and publicity, The Ends of the Earth book II, Uncategorized

News Update: Competition winner and more…..

The changeling trilogy has attracted a solid and loyal fan base since Legend of the Lost, the first book in the series was launched. As a result we were delighted to offer one of the fans of the series the chance to win a very special prize.

Book II, The Ends of the Earth is part-based in Southern Africa as well as the ancestral home of the special changeling family, Cornwall. We tasked our readers to come up with a suitable name for one of the African animals and after some lovely and very creative suggestions, we’re pleased to announce that the winners were Suzannah Archibald and her family, who came up with a very imaginative name for one of the leopard sentinels, having researched the Namibian dialect.

The Ends of the Earth is currently in production and should be ready by Christmas. Suzannah and family will receive a special acknowledgement in the book and we’ll also be announcing the winning name a little closer to the release date.

Huge thanks to the many of you who entered. We loved them all, but there had to be a winner and it may have helped that Suzannah and family hail from…..Porthleven, Cornwall, where, of course, our adventure begins.

Keep your eyes peeled for the second edition of Legend of the Lost, which will be re-released shortly. First edition copies of the book with the iconic purple cover are still available (if you’re quick) from the Book Guild shop and direct from Amazon who are currently having a sale..

Legend of the Lost book 1, Short Stories, Social media and publicity

The Procession of the FAE

“But how can a forest be truly beautiful if nobody can walk through it, even see it or share the privilege?”
The young Prince’s face turned scarlet with rage as he spat those words.
Yet his father’s back was dumb as he waked away.
“My land remains shut. The great cull begins in the morning. Get some sleep boy and be there with your hunting bow.”
Tears blurred his eyes as he stormed from Ashridge house. But his feet led instinctively to the path, through the crisp bracken and jade ferns down to the mirror pond pool.
The birds, for once, held their collective breath. They too knew what the bloody dawn promised.
Slumped against a willow tree, chest thumping still, his face turned to the warming sun. A heady scent was drawn deep with each angry sob.
Eventually his lids grew heavy and he crossed into a deep sleep.
After several dark waves of slumber, the boy was gently awoken by the sounds of subtle splashing.
Opening his eyes, his attention was drawn to the shapes of what immediately appeared to be the most enchanting women he had ever beheld. When they laughed, it was like crystal glasses chiming.
Their limbs were like alabaster carvings that moved with the grace of moths on the wing. And their faces near burst with ripe joy.
He wanted to cry out, but they were naked and gavotting with such abandon that something warned him to seal his lips, lest his rudeness break the magic of the moment.
His instincts were true. Instead, he blended with his surroundings, like a timorous prey animal and simply watched, his senses crackling.
The nymphs splashed one another, using the tips of their wings like he cupped hands. But suddenly, as one, they froze. Then, in chorus they turned to face him. And he thought his heart would burst.
Without merest suggestion of self-consciousness, the Fae approached him, now barely rippling the water with their tread. Soon, he was surrounded by a crescent moon of iridescent delight.
They didn’t really speak. It was as if he had invited guests through a portal into his very head, where they quickly translated his thoughts and his feelings. Gradually, their expressions changed from wonder and warmth and delight to what he could best describe as a knowing disappointment, whichpassed between them like storm clouds blown by the west wind in a blue sky. Then, one by one, they took to the air on butterfly wings.
All but one.
“You smell of sadness. Your head is filled with anger and fear. But every life has a season. Every season has an end. Thus is the cycle. It is Mother’s way.”
He recoiled at THAT word, as if stung. Then he saw his flinch echoed in her beautiful eyes. He had not thought about his mother for many years and that wound had clearly still not healed.
“You don’t understand” he found himself shouting. “He will kill them. They will turn the land red. Destroy them all.”
The faerie simply smiled. Her eyes, brown pools, reflecting the water that surrounded them.
“Call them” she whispered, like a pregnant pause.
“Open the way and they will come.”
As she spoke, her features dissolved into the shimmering light.

He blinked.

She was gone.

The Prince sprang to his feet and waded into the water, but there was no sign of their presence or passing. He did notice that the wild roses on the bank had swollen into bloom as if struggling to contain a happy secret. The flowers were the only indication that the Fae had been here. That and the compulsion in his breast.
All afternoon, down in the village, the Prince busied himself among the artisans, the heralds,
minstrels and printers. He knew the simple people well and was greatly loved for his kind manner, tenderness and steady heart. He shared one urgent message with them all. They, in turn, spread their magic in the town.
He also shared his passionate secret with the small animals of the hedgerows and the fields. For he also knew them well, having rescued many from cold winters, cat’s claws or the raptor’s grasp.
He slept badly that night, racked by self-doubt, fear and insecurity. Still, he was up and dressed in his hunting clothes, when the King’s cold messengers arrived.
The pomp of the hunting party was as brash as the pageantry of its train and the excitement of the hounds terrifying. But he took his place by his father’s side, his black pony dwarfed by the King’smighty war horse that snorted like a dragon exhaling hot air into the morning mist, like fire.
The plan dreamed up by his generals was to start with a perimeter patrol, to check that the
boundaries were all secure. That nothing could leave the estate. Or, just as importantly, no
trespassing poachers or pleasure-seekers could violate the monarch’s land.
Sensitive to the mini-dramas payed out in the lives of the worlds between nature’s veils, the boy could see and feel the hairy and feathered families fleeing this four-footed mob. They took to the highest trees or the deepest dens, muttering a silent prayer to the old Gods as they fled.
Upon completion of their first brutish circuit, they approached the ancient oak that marked the boundary gate. It was rumoured that it was beneath these same mighty boughs that he had been conceived on a night when the silver moon was at its most proud.
He looked up. Could that be the hint of a smile on his father’s face?

That thought didn’t last long as the expression changed from something approaching vulnerability, to what appeared to be, if he didn’t know better, a look of …..awe.
The Prince followed the beam of his father’s gaze, noticing that the army had now been stunned into silence. And there, framed by a golden glow, walked what appeared to be every humble peasant from the village.

Furthermore, they were being led, guided, inspired by a great, enchanting white deer, thousands of woodland animals and a bewildering procession of the Fae.
As they approached, the sharp fences inevitably dissolved and the heavy gate towers crumbled.
And there was no need for words as soon, tears became the one universal language.

*This is a short story featuring characters from the Legend of the Lost universe.

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 Guildb 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?