We invite authors to talk about their books we've recommended.
Tell Me About Your Book
Glasruhen Gate is the second book in the Adventures of Jack Brenin Series. The first book, The Golden Acorn won the Brit Writers' Best Story for Children and I went on to be awarded the Brit Writers' Award for Writer of the Year 2010. Glasruhen Gate starts where the Golden Acorn ends so you'd need to read book one first. The story continues after Jack has found out, beyond doubt, he's 'The One' everyone is depending on to save the ancient forests of Glasruhen. His friends lives also depend on his success. Now, armed with his own golden acorn, a wand and new magical skills he sets out to help fulfil his promise and ensure Glasrhen Gate (a portal into the otherworld of Annwn) is opened before it's too late. The books are suitable for all ages.Glasruhen means 'ancient green hill' and is based on a real place in Shropshire, where I live. The maps at the front of the books are from parts of the county but the names have been changed. The map of Annwn is imaginary.
Tell me more about your key characters
Jack Brenin is an ordinary boy with an extraordinary future, although he doesn't know it. He learns magic from Nora (a druid who's been trapped on Earth for centuries) and he's taught how to fly by Camelin, a greedy, grumpy raven who loves kebabs... and any other food on offer. Elan (Nora's neice) has a special role to play in Jack's life and is a key character in all the books.
How did you get started as a writer?
For twenty-nine years I taught in primary education and loved every minute. When I was told five years ago I had degenerative bone disease and would no longer be able to teach, it was quite a blow. Within six months of being diagnosed with the bone and joint problems I found I had aggressive breast cancer. That was my 50th birthday present... something I hadn't put on my wish list!It's a life changing event to be told you have cancer. It affects everyone around you and you find out very quickly how precious life really is. After weeks of treatment I came to a crossroads. The easy road would lead me to withdraw and accept defeat, or I could take the other path, try and pick up the pieces and face the battlefield. I chose the latter.The body might not be too good but the brain was fine and needed occupying, especially during the endless trips to hospital. I'd always said I'd write 'the book' when I retired, little thinking that day would come sooner rather than later. Immersing myself into another world was a life saver for me. I spent six months researching the history, myths and legends of my home county of Shropshire, and sorting out the characters for the story. My aim was to write a series, which would be suitable for young and old alike and to weave all my research into a tale of magic and adventure. I wanted to write the kind of books a parent, grandparent or teacher, would be happy to give to a child to read on their own.The first draft took six months to write, was far too long and not very good. I knew it was far from perfect but realized I needed professional advice. The advice I got was drastic but you either accept your manuscript needs sorting out or you can blindly disregard the professionals and think you know best. I took the next six months removing the whole subplot (which has now become book five) and rewriting the manuscript. I submitted it again for feedback and found I'd written a really good first draft! Another six months of hard work went into making The Golden Acorn - The Adventures of Jack Brenin Book One, into a book.Last year I entered The Golden Acorn into the Brit Writers' Awards for unpublished authors. There were nearly 22,000 entries and I got through to the final at the O2 in London. The Golden Acorn won Best Story for Children and I was crowned Brit Writer of the Year 2010. I won a £10,000 prize and a publishing contract with Infinite Ideas of Oxford. The book rights have now been sold around the world and this month we completed a contract with a film company in LA.I'm able to visit schools as an author. I'm in a position to encourage young people to read and hopefully inspire some of them to want to write books of their own. One door closed for me five years ago but I opened another one and took that first step through. Little did I know at the time where it was going to lead. It's been quite a journey.'
Describe your desk/workspace.
I'm a very organized person but I'm afraid to say the room where I write is very messy. I sit surrounded by piles of notebooks, pieces of paper and books. My room has floor to ceiling bookshelves, which are all full. I also have suitcases (the old brown battered type) which contain the costumes and props I take into school on my visits. Part of the mess is from the props and costumes I make, which go with the books.
Are you planning to write any new books in the future?
There are three more books in the Jack Brenin series... I've nearly finished Book Three, entitled The Dwindling Door. Book Four is to be The Lost Treasure of Annwn and Book Five is The Oak Lord.I also have a series called Hawke & Co., two books are out already with more to come. Book One is called The New Neighbours and Book Two is The Pirate Ship. I'm hoping to have book one in Ariadne's Adventures finished for Christmas (the book is written but my husband and I haven't finished the illustrations). I also have a stand alone book called Snowflake and Blizzard, about two horses, but again the illustrations aren't done yet.