In my books about the magic game ‘The Tenth Gateway’, the
game world was created hundreds of years ago. I therefore wanted the world to
reflect aspects of the medieval period.
So the fictional magical beings and
nasty creatures in the books draw on traditional fairy tales and folklore but
they live in a world that doesn’t have modern technology. There’s lots of magic
and anything can happen but there are no cars, planes, big cities or computers.
Hansel & Gretal
‘An Encyclopedia of Fairies’ by Katherine Briggs was really
helpful.I also trawled through
the internet and I remembered all the great fairy tales I have read.
these images that I found in a volume of a very old encyclopedia – J. A Richards Publishing Co., Inc 1947!
Some Writing Challenges
One of the most difficult things to do in writing my stories
was the come up with the various challenges and puzzles that the children have
to solve to move through the game. Childhood memories also played a major role
I remember getting stuck for a couple of months when writing
the first book because I couldn’t think how to move the children from one
particular world to another. Thank goodness for Eda’s‘good magic’ which helps them to play the game.
I needed to change the gateway worlds and challenges in Book
Two – ‘The Spy’s Door’. The growing power of the evil magician Malefic means
that he is increasingly able to modify the game to suit his purpose. He wants
to escape from the game which keeps him a prisoner. Eda is determined to stop
I had lots of fun thinking about how the game would change
as Malefic’s evil influence spread.
Alison Tait has a great book trailer for her children’s
books ‘The Map Maker Chronicles’. I can recommend looking at the trailer and
also reading the books – a great fantasy adventure story. It’s what motivated
me to have my first book trailer on ‘The Tenth Gateway’ developed by Austin
Macauley (publisher). I (with help of course) included the Youtube links in one
of my recent blogs.
I’m not sure how people stumble/find things (like book
trailers) on Youtube unless they know exactly what they’re looking for.
I know about Google. Type in key words and it’s amazing what
information you can find. However I’m not sure how people find things they
don’t know exist; for example: terrific books or the web sites of other great
I suppose utilising ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ (SEO) helps
a bit.Sounds like something
mysterious to include in a children’s fantasy story! What do you think?
As with a lot of people who
write I scribbled lots of poems and stories as a child. And of course I was a ‘book
worm’. I even wrote fantasy for young children in my twenties. The draft copy
still sits here in my study and I’m determined to try and polish it up in
the New Year.
My ‘real’ career beckoned.
Therefore it wasn’t until a
few years ago that I decided I would like to do something serious with my
writing. But I didn’t want to do any more formal study. So I
completed two online short courses with the Australian Writers Centre – they
were a great help. The first was in creative writing and the second in writing
children’s books. I realised that it was ‘fantasy’ that I really loved. It
enables my imagination to take flight.
During the two courses the
idea for ‘The Tenth Gateway’ popped into my head. Obviously I was influenced by
everything I have read over the years and I included all the sorts of magic,
characters and nasty creatures I loved (and still love) reading about.
However the inspiration for
creating the story of the magic game was the traditional game of ‘Snakes and
Ladders’. Players have to try and avoid landing on something nasty (snakes) and
being sent backwards. The aim of course is to land on a ladder and move
forwards to the final square. The first one who gets there wins.
It was lots of fun.
I don’t have any ladders in
my books so far – although there are some horrible serpents in the enchanted
world of the second gateway in my second book ‘The Spy’s Door’. But there is
the tension between good (Eda the good magician) and bad (Malefic the nasty
Anyway I had to have
different obstacles for the children in the stories to overcome –hence the
challenges and puzzles that need to be solved before they can move forward in
Blogging – good news
I’ve surprised myself. I’m
actually enjoying writing these blogs. Maybe it’s just like everyone says – you’ve
just got to sit down and write.
I still need help from my
Social Media Expert Friend (SMEF) on posting blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc but I
now feel a bit more confident that I’ll get there in the end.
Why is fantasy a ‘good
read’ for children?
Here is one of my favourite
quotes from Dr. Seuss:
Do you have any good quotes
about why stories drawing on the fantasy genre is important for children?
Ten years ago I planted six Birds of Paradise plants under a
tall gum tree. I envisaged a beautiful group of colourful exotic flowers
shooting up in the Spring.
Each year through cold and windy winters and hot dry
summers I have weeded, watered and watched my small family of plants.
A few new
leaves emerged but that was all. I still hoped and now after all these years
there are two flowers. One has opened and showed its beautiful colours and the
second (look carefully at tree trunk) is still closed like a spear. Wow! I am
My husband Frank retrieved a discarded small garden glass
Most of the glass was shattered and it lay around behind the barn for
Last year I had the idea to turn it into a bush house filled
with the native orchids given to me by a friend. I kept the frame and covered
it with green netting. And a few weeks ago I built a paved area with more of
the old bricks near the entrance to the house.
My challenge now is to slow down the ‘bricks works’ –
although there are still more to use and get back to my writing.
have something to say about that next time. I have a new idea about how my main
characters move from one enchanted world to the next – of course, once again
inspired by nature!
Do you know if there is an eco friendly way to boost the
growth of ‘Birds of Paradise’? I’d rather not wait another ten years.
About six months ago, as I shared on facebook, a tall gum
tree fell on and destroyed a large section of my front garden. I was quite
upset as it had taken me some years to create it. But I took a deep breath and
I re-planted the garden using some of my old bricks to create another new path.
I took this photo of it last weekend. You can compare the before and after.
I find that creating fictional characters is a bit like gardening.
First, imagining what they are like and then watching their personalities grow
as the story develops. Lots of patience is required for both. This past week or
so I have been struggling to find names for some of the fictional characters in
my third children’s book about the enchanted game and world of ‘The Tenth
Gateway’. I can spend several hours at a time on this.
Just when I think I have found or created something
different, I check ‘google’ and up pops the same name for a character in a book
or film, a singer, or a computer game. It’s easier for the ‘human’ characters
but much harder for the various fantasy creatures – good and bad.
I found this lovely image of a fairy-like being which
reminded me of the fairy charm I included in my first book “The Tenth Gateway’.
I didn’t give her a name but now I’m wondering what it would be. I am thinking
‘Clara’. It is an ancient Latin name and means ‘clear, bright’.
I can’t believe it’s time to post
another blog. What have I done in the last two weeks? A bit of writing
(hoorah!) and re-cycling old bricks!
I’ve managed to finish another
draft chapter in my third book about the magic game ‘The Tenth Gateway’. I’ve
been a bit slow as it’s taken me several weeks to work out how the fictional
children can solve a difficult challenge. It’s interesting that the more I
write about the main characters in the story the more real they become for me
and I know how they will each react to a particular situation.
I’ve also completed a page for ‘The Spy’s Door’ as part of
the scbwi (society of children’s book
writers and illustrators) annual bookstop promotion. So if you are looking
for holiday gifts for children you can find 'The Spy's Door' and lots more to
browse through at #SCBWIBookStop for
a great new read
Although I haven’t done a huge
amount of weeding and planting type of gardening I have been very active
outside re-using the old bricks from the house renovation we did several years
ago. My first effort was to make a new garden path.
I have some more ideas that I’ll show you next post.
Do you have any fun or practical ideas of how to recycle
materials or items left over from a building project?
It’s been 2 weeks since I posted anything on social media. I
did try to send my blog link to Austin Macauley to post on their web site for
my new children’s book- The Spy’s Door’- but I got that wrong. So have waited
for my ‘Social Media Expert Friend' (SMEF) to help me send it to AM and of
course to help me update this blog. This week I must take some notes on ‘how to
post a blog.’
When I published my first children's book - The Tenth Gateway- I didn't realise that I would be entering a whole new world - the world of social media.
It terrified me.
I took the first step by enrolling in an online course called 'Building an Author Website' run by The Australian Writers Centre. This was a great course. I created a face book page with the help of a friend who knows about these things.
The next difficulty was knowing what to post. This was and still is a struggle. I now also have Instagram and twitter but I still don't really understand them.
Everyone then told me that I needed to have a blog, so let's see how it goes.
On my blog I intend to share with my journey not only as a writer but as a user of social media.
I haven't always been a writer of children's books - although I did write a story about the adventures of a nail when I was nine.
Progressing on from this there have been a multitude of professional writings - essays, academic papers, reports, project plans, business plans and lesson plans etc etc.
Now it is time for writing about all the fun and interesting things I have always loved to read about - history, mystery and magic. I can use my imagination to create fantasy worlds and beings that children - real and fictional - can immerse themselves in.