Reviews

Life Lessons in a Fantasy World

One of the benefits of publishing a piece of writing is the positive impact it has on others, how it touches their lives and makes the world just a little bit better. Well we were delighted to receive this lovely review the other day and I wanted to share that with you for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s clear that the reviewer really enjoyed Legend of the Lost, the fist installment of the changeling trilogy.

Secondly, because it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the core theme of the first book, the corruption of love into a form of pandemic that threatens the natural and super-natural world, has a lot of resonance in these dark times. As more pople use their “down time” during the C-virus crisis, more people are finding time to read. Hopefully, when they pick up Legend of the Lost they will find magic, entertainment, thrills, hope and, above all, love.

A magical advernture

Here’s what our reviewer had to say:

Legend of the Lost focuses on a world of fairies, nymphs, witches and were-beasts which discreetly exists alongside our own. It begins by the Atlantic, in west Cornwall, as a young girl meets a mermaid and quickly realises that she is deeply connected to this parallel realm. Gradually the story moves inland, primarily to English woodland, as it builds into a traditional climax of good versus evil… but with an insightful deeper message.

I thought the interactions weaving between the supernatural, natural and human worlds were well done and the sea and forest locations beautifully captured, leaving my mind full of blues and greens. The fact that the locations are real made this super-natural world all the more touchable, anyone who has strayed into woodland as dusk falls will know the feeling. And I loved the fact that the animals I see in the wild in my real life – foxes, kites, deer – mix freely here with rather more mystical creatures.

There are strong environmental themes: man has polluted his world and it is this poison which has led nature and super-nature to turn bad. Nobody and nothing – it turns out – is entirely good or bad, and even those who are more the latter may be so for good reason, even deserving of sympathy.

This is a story for older children and younger adults: yes definitely for girls, but I hope also for boys with the gifts of openness and imagination, and meanwhile there are plenty of monsters, beasts and battles to get stuck into alongside the whimsy. In fact, “Legend of the Lost” is also an enjoyable read for adults who have retained their sense of wonder, but they probably won’t be the primary readership.

Overall, beautiful writing, natural settings, clever interactions between the real and the fantastical, some great environmental themes and that good ol’ “good versus evil” climax, but where the line between the two lies is rather less clear than may first appear.

Apparently this is the first in a trilogy, and there is an accompanying interactive website for those who get immersed.

Many will.

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?

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!