When I declared the legal statement that all events in my book were the invention of the author, I told a little bit of a white lie. (Well I'm an author - what do they expect?) There is a scene in 'The Forest of Adventures' which is based on a true event: it was the event of my first kiss. (That is also a bit of a white lie too - my technically 'very first kiss' now resides in the Fraudian filing cabinet in a folder called 'Traumatic Childhood Accidents'.)
Here, however is the event I have chosen as my official first kiss. (And as I am author of my own lifestory, I get to choose the narrative sequence.)
I was sixteen - okay, so that 'childhood accident' put me off for a while. It was February and it was snowing, which perhaps explains my romantic pre-occupation with snow. Strangely the kiss itself has refused to stay - I think because I was transported to a different galaxy when he actually kissed me - but those precious, heart racing, slip-sliding moments before he actually reached forward and placed his lips on mine have stayed with me ever since; enough to make it the turning point in my heroine's destiny.
"Rejecting his help, I struggled to my feet, hot blood rushing to my cheeks. I could barely think how I would be able to look at him, and when I finally managed to brave it out, all I could see was an amused and curious smile dancing over his lips.
Snow began to fall and, whether it was the blood rushing to my head, or the effect Blake had on me, I had the sudden feeling of being turned slowly upside down inside of a snow-globe." Time slid; the snow fell in slow motion and Blake looked deep into my eyes. I was transfixed on a single snowflake that was balanced on one of his long, dark eyelashes. His brown eyes were the only promise of warmth in the whole landscape." Chapter 4 'The Forest of Adventures'
What is beautiful about being a young adult is that when these moments happen you live the poetry of the moment - as if you are outside observing the film of your own life. Orchestral scores really do burst out of the heavens, your eyes become various camera shots, you really are able to feel and live metaphors on the spot.
There is no need for nostalgic romanticising - it was really like this, and perhaps this is why I refuse to put the inner adolescent to bed. To hide it away as if slightly ashamed by the silliness and impulsivity of youth. Perhaps this is why I choose to write YA fiction, to always allow the opportunity for my YA self to have a voice - because the adult world can become so pragmatic and cynical; Snow can just become cold and a travel disruption; Kissing just an exchange of custom on leaving the house for work; Eyes just something we use for reading the bank statements or watching television.
As long as my YA self is kept alive then who cares if it's one that is slightly delusional, slightly romantic, slightly silly - at least it's one that feels the passion of life. This is why I love the whole notion of Valentine's Day - because it's a day when there is the potential to write our own poetic scene and be young and beautiful again.
NAME: Blake Edwin Beldevier
DATE OF BIRTH: November 17th 1400
AGE:18 (Has been held in a time ripple for over 500 years)
PLACE OF ORIGIN: Tintagel, Cornwall
HAIR COLOUR: So dark brown as to be almost black.
EYE COLOUR: The colour of melted dark chocolate
HEIGHT: 6ft 4 inches
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Blake is tall and strong. He has an athletic body with strong upper arm strength. His facial features are defined, his eyes deep set.
SPECIAL AREA OF EXPERTISE: Broadsword and Horseriding. Is a strong opponant in the arena. Blends the strength of his intellect with that of his body. His agility often puts him at an advantage over his heavier, stronger opponants.
EDUCATION / OCCUPATION: Blake is highly educated and speaks fluent French and competent Arabic and Latin. He has a broad education in Art, Music, Literature, Mathmatics and the sciences. As a Knight of The Realm, Blake is beyond wealthy and has access to The Realm treasury.
HOBBIES: Blake loves reading, riding, and falconary. He loves music and can play the violin but he is a solitary player. Much of Blake's time is spent in training and study.
VEHICLES: Drives a Black Volkwagon Polo sports. Tan leather interior and a white stallion called Lancelot.
FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS: Blake was adopted alongside his twin brother Leo, by Vivien (The Lady of the Lake.) Blake's mother was Quenevier, wife of Arthur. Blake's father is Sir Lancelot. Blake and Leo's mother fell pregnant with th twins when she was having an affair with Sir Lancelot.
BEST FRIEND: Percival De Leonayise. The same age as Blake, Percival is an ernest, loyal knight of The Realm. Percival not only inherited his family name but the family pet lion.
PERSONAL HISTORY: When Blake and his brother were just infants, it was ordered that they should be drowned in the river that runs alongside the nunnery. When the novice instucted to drown the babies cried out for God's mercy, Vivien of the Lake appeared and took the babies from her. She raised the boys as her own although the tragic events that took place in their thirteenth year meant that Leo distanced himself from her.
Blake and Vivien are very close. She is aware that Blake holds an important role in the future of The Realm and Merlin informed her that Blake is part of an ancient prophesy. Time in The Realm runs very differently to the Real World and as a result Blake has been held in a form of time ripple.
Blake was raised as a true knight of the Arthurian Realm and Meadowlake, the home of Vivien, is the heart of The Realm; it is a central meeting and training point for the Knights of The Round Table.
From the age of three, Blake has been in training. He undertook his first adventure at the age of fifteen and is already a well travelled and worldly young man. He is a 'beloved' of the Realm and the Knights Templar (The head of The Realm) hold a 'soft spot' for Blake.
As part of Blake's Real World training he was enrolled into a Real World college. Here he met Mina Singer.
I've always been a very visual person and I think this shows in my writing. It is only a momentary decision that caused me to persue a degree in English Literature rather than Fine Arts.
When I write, it is as if there is a film actually playing in my head and the films are often composed of images that have been stored in my memory; of places I have been since childhood. The mind is an amazing thing - each experience stored away in the crazy filing cabinet labelled 'Memory'.
I thought I would share with you my research boards and I am sure that you will be able to identify places and key scenes from the books and also to show you a little piece of my mind.
It's a been a great month. Sales of 'The Forest of Adventures' are going bonkers and the reason why this brings me so much excitement is, it means a reading community is being created. More sales means more people are taking the time to step into the world I've created.
As a result, I have met the most amazing readers and made some brilliant new friends. It is so nice to share my characters and story with people. I love it when readers get in touch and ask me questions.
Last week, Emma (one of my wonderful Cornwall Fan group) e-mailed me to ask for the map co-ordinates of Vivien's Cove. After a few exchanges of maps and directions, she and her husband set off with a camera for a day out. The photos she sent me are absolutely gorgeous.
It was so wonderful to see 'my' cove againg. I went about two and a half years ago and when I saw Emma's photo's I just knew we had to go and make another visit; hopefully we are going in October. I think this part of the coast is at it's most stunning when the harder weather hits.
'The Forest of Adventures' is now in it's fourth month since release and what an exciting and challenging time it has been. The Knight Trilogy has started to gain a loyal fanbase with whom I spend a lot of time chatting and laughing; my fanbase are amazingly supportive and flying the flag for The Knight Trilogy, for which I am tremendously appreciative and incredibly humbled.
As if to confirm it, I received my notification from The British Library, acknowledging receipt of my legal deposit- which to somebody as completely nerdish as me caused a spontaneous happy dance, much to the Mud Puddle's amusement
Sorry to have neglected you for so long. I have been crazy busy working on the second volume and completing a couple of short stories for various anthologies.
In the time that I have been away I have had some really amazing days. The first paperback copies have arrived on American soil and have been received with great enthusiasm and success - a wonderful scattering of five star reviews all over the place.
After a minor hiccup with smashwords e-formatting (now withdrawn) the ratings have soared on both Amazon and goodreads.
I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and enthusiasm that has come my way via fan mail and reviews over the last fortnight. This morning I opened my mailbox to three uplifting messages of which I would like to share just a couple of snippets,
"I just received my signed ARC copy of "The Forest of Adventures" yesterday, and I have to say it is one of the most beautiful paperbacks I've ever laid eyes on."
"I love this book! I couldn't put it down. I just couldn't get enough of it. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I loved all of the characters, the plot, the writing. I think it is safe to say that there is nothing about this book that I didn't love. I need more. "
"The Forest of Adventures had exquisitely written words that were so descriptive that the reader could feel that they were there. Each chapter, paragraph or sentence had it's own beauty that it was simple to get swept away in the story of Mina, Blake and Sammy. "
When you write a novel and take the step to have it published, put out there into the big world - you're kind of putting your head above a parapet and you know that you're taking the risk of being fired at. It's an exposing thing and immediately it makes you vulnerable because it's not just a product that you're putting out there, it's part of you. It's not just about self belief, it's also about a kind of blind faith.
No writer that I know and speak with, feels confident that there work is above dislike. Every one always says, immediately following discussion of their own work, how they wish they were as good a writer as. X or Y. How they envy H's ability to construct prose, or P's ability to create character etc.
A writer's life is one of a constant battle with self doubt and lapses in confidence, so when you open your mailbox to find that somebody actually likes what you've done, you can not imagine the relief and subsequent grin that spreads across the face.
Now - thanks to the wonder that is Twitter - I have met a lot of brilliant writers in the last few weeks that are very diverse in their writing genres. There is a real sense of community in the writing world and there is lots of fun to be had - especially when you should be doing more constructive things like writing and editing.
Well to add to the delicious procrastination I have decided to host a flash writing competition after the brilliant @tweetthebook held one a couple of weeks ago.
All you have to do is write a mini saga over the twitter platform. Post 5 consecutive posts that tell a complete mini story. When you have posted them, cut and paste them and add them to the comment box below along with your name and any other promotional link you'd like.
The subject of the mini saga is EXPLORATION (Take that however you wish to - The only rule is that you stay within the confines of sexual appropriacy as this is a site that Young Adults visit.)
I will be selecting the winner on Sunday 16th Jan. For their brilliant efforts they will recieve a signed ARC of The Forest of Advent