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The Legacy of Androva Series

Today's post is about portal rooms. They are built deep underground, to ensure that the magicians using them are as protected as possible. There was a particular incident in Androva's history, as explained in the first book, which brought home the realisation that portals can be incredibly dangerous if not carefully managed.

Androva did go slightly overboard with rules and regulations in the time since then, and my protagonists are still doing their best to force the Androvan Council to move with the times!

I've included two excerpts, which show how much things have changed in the series. The first excerpt is from the first book, when Shannon steps into Androva straight from her garden, having just met Jax properly. The second excerpt is from the fourth book. Andy, the brother of Shannon's friend Penny, is taken down the stairs to a Terran portal room by Penny and Jax's friend Darius.

Excerpt One

Shannon blinked. She had grabbed Jax’s hand a split second before, taken three steps forward, and the world had changed. Quite literally, as it would turn out. They were now in a small, dark room, with lots of symbols painted in various colours on the walls, floor and ceiling.

She looked down, and realised she was standing on some kind of circular mat that glittered and felt slightly rough under her feet. The air around them was shimmering gently, and as she watched, the shimmer retreated downwards, leaving the air clear. The mat no longer glittered, and was now a plain dark green colour.

“This,” said Jax, gesturing downwards, “is my spellstation.”
He sounded very proud of something that, to Shannon, seemed rather ordinary.
“Green is the most powerful colour,” Jax continued. “And it’s big enough to transport two magicians who are of age. No other magician as young as me has managed such a feat before.”

Shannon tried to look impressed. Jax sighed.
“I suppose you don’t know anything about it,” he said disappointedly. “You’ll have to take my word for it then,” he concluded, with a hint of his former smile. “You will have to trust me on matters Androvan, and I will have to trust you on matters Terran.”

Excerpt Two

She took Andy’s hand and started pulling him back the way they had come. Soon enough they had arrived at the portal room stairs. Half way down the stone steps, spiralling down and down, with only faded Illumination Spells to light the way, Andy started to resist.

“Where exactly are you taking me?” he asked. “All that… back there. It was kind of weird, kind of cool, but definitely… not from around here.” He looked at Darius. “How do I know this isn’t a kidnapping and you’ve got my sister under some kind of spell to follow your orders?”

Darius laughed before he could stop himself. “Believe me, there is no spell on Androva that could get Penny to follow anybody’s orders.”

Andy narrowed his eyes for a second and then nodded slowly. There was the ghost of a smile on his lips. “Fair point. I believe you.” Penny, behind him, gave his leg a kick in protest. “Is that where we’re going then? Androva?”

Darius nodded, and Andy started moving again. Quickly and efficiently, Darius opened the portal, his Sygnus starting to spin as he entered the co-ordinates. He held out his hand, and Andy looked at it suspiciously.

“Dude, I am not holding your hand,” he said. Penny suppressed a snort of laughter at the look on her brother’s face.

“No,” said Darius patiently, “I need your phone. It will stop working if I don’t protect it first.”

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the excerpts!

Welcome to the tenth week of my blog tour! You can find all of the stops here: Stealing Magic Tour

Today, Monday 20th March, Books Chatter is featuring my book and an author interview.

This particular interview was a lot of fun to complete. Not only did I get to imagine who could bring Stealing Magic to life on the big screen, but my hosts have also put the book's playlist together! My cat even makes a brief appearance at the end of the interview ☺

Follow the link below to enter the giveaway and visit the amazing Books Chatter website!

Books Chatter - Author Interview

As I advance further into the Legacy of Androva series, it got me to wondering about how often fiction reimagines the facts of the past. My own books, for example, offer readers a potentially different history for our world, where the present remains unchanged.

But just how reliable is 'real' history? I thought I would illustrate how difficult it is to know for sure, with a bit of information about Anne Boleyn. King Henry VIII of England had six wives, and she was the second.

She was born in 1501, and died in 1536. We can suppose that there must have been something special about her, because Henry broke with the Catholic Church in order to make her his wife. A very big deal. And he first started writing love letters to Anne in 1526, but did not marry her until 1533. That's a long time to hold the interest of a King!

Henry had her beheaded for treason. Five men, including her brother, were also executed. This information, in and of itself, appears to be undisputed. But everything else about what happened, including who was innocent or guilty, is not completely certain.

Here are some extracts from contemporary accounts of Anne's execution, to show that even right at the time it happened, there were several versions of the truth.

The Tower of London, early morning on 19th May 1536. Anne, formerly Queen of England, is brought to have her head cut off. She made a speech. But what did she say?

The Queen suffered with sword this day within the Tower, upon a new scaffold, and died boldly.

Letter, John Husee to Lord Lisle

The said Queen (unjustly called) finally was beheaded upon a scaffold within the Tower with open gates. She was brought by the captain upon the said scaffold, and four young ladies followed her. She looked frequently behind her, and when she got upon the scaffold was very much exhausted and amazed. She begged leave to speak to the people, promising to say nothing but what was good. The captain gave her leave, and she began to raise her eyes to Heaven, and cry mercy to God and to the King for the offence she had done, desiring the people always to pray to God for the King, for he was a good, gentle, gracious, and amiable prince.
The Vienna Chronicles

"I here humbly submit me to the law as the law has judged me, and as for my offences I accuse no man … I beseech Jesus save my sovereign and master the King, the most godly, noble and gentle Prince there is, and long to reign over you" … which words were spoken with a goodly smiling countenance.Wriothesley’s Chronicle

"Do not think, good people, that I am sorry to die, or that I have done anything to deserve this death. My fault has been my great pride, and the great crime I committed in getting the King to leave my mistress Queen Katherine for my sake, and I pray God to pardon me for it. I say to you all that everything they have accused me of is false."
The Spanish Chronicle
Quite a range of different accounts, and all written by people who were around at the time! Of course, it makes things much more interesting for us readers. Any one of the many different retellings could be correct. Our imaginations are incredibly powerful. Which version do you think is most likely to be true? Thank you for reading!

Welcome to the ninth week of my blog tour! You can find all of the stops here: Stealing Magic Tour

Today, Monday 13th March, T's Stuff is featuring my book and an author interview.

There were a couple of questions I particularly enjoyed answering, including which book I would choose if I could have been the author of any book ever written, and also how I would spend a day with one of my characters.

Follow the link below to enter the giveaway and have a look around the website - there are some great books to discover!

T's Stuff - Author Interview

The Legacy of Androva series is very much contemporary fantasy in a modern setting. However, I am a fan of magical creatures and accessories, and all of the incredible world building that is found in high fantasy books. Which got me to wondering, as I was writing the third book in the series, if there was a way that I could introduce a magical creature without the story turning into high fantasy.

Dragons seemed like a great place to start, simply because there is no definitive view on exactly where all the myths and legends came from. Yet, across our world, from Europe to China, stories about dragons appear throughout history. I found the idea of creating my own magical explanation quite appealing!

That's how the world of Imbera ended up with dragons. Although, without revealing too much of the story, there is more to them than meets the eye. The ruling house has this statue on its roof. It's a reminder to everyone about the power of the evil magician in charge of the Gathering. Of course, no-one really needs the reminder, but that doesn't stop my fictional villain from reinforcing his authority anyway!

Welcome to the eighth week of my blog tour! You can find all of the stops here: Stealing Magic Tour

Today, Monday 6th March, Books Direct is featuring my book and an author interview.

There were some very interesting questions for me to answer, including which other writers have influenced me the most, and what kind of comments I've had from readers!

Follow the link below to enter the giveaway, and you never know, you might also find your next great read on the Books Direct website!

Books Direct - Author Interview

In Seeking Magic, Jax and Shannon go back in time to Pompeii. It turns out that the way home is not as straightforward as they thought, and of course Mount Vesuvius is about to erupt... all of which is apparent from the prologue, so I'm not giving too much away!

For today's post, I thought I would share three details that I found interesting from my research into Pompeii, combined with pictures of the places that Jax and Shannon visited.

Pompeii's amphitheatre is even older than the Colosseum in Rome. Emotions at the games ran so high that Emperor Nero actually closed it down for 10 years in 59 AD. A small disagreement between the residents of Pompeii and Nuceria had escalated into a riot of such epic proportions that swords were drawn, and many people were killed.

Detail 1: Graffiti was uncovered in Pompeii about a particular gladiator, with the words 'Celadus, suspirium puellarum,' which means 'Celadus makes the girls sigh'!

These are the formal gardens of Villa Julia Felix, thought to be laid out to resemble the Canopus canal in Egypt. The central pool would have been topped up with fresh water daily.

Pompeii had an aqueduct that supplied the city's drinking fountains and public baths with fresh water. Detail 2: Private houses used the water to supply their gardens, not their kitchen or bathroom facilities. Strange way to prioritise!

The Temple of Apollo has an amazing 48 columns, and is one of the oldest temples in Pompeii. It dates back to the 6th century BC. Apollo was a Roman god who mainly represented the sun, but also medicine, prophecy, archery and music.

Detail 3: The laurel wreath is said to date from Apollo's Pythian Games. Apollo insulted Eros, the god of love, who got his revenge by making Apollo fall in love with a woman who would never love him back. Eros shot Apollo with an arrow of gold, and Daphne, a beautiful nymph, with an arrow of iron.

Her father, a river god, helped her to escape Apollo by turning her into a laurel tree. Apollo vowed to love her forever, wearing laurel leaves in his hair, and making the tree evergreen. It is interesting that the laurel wreath is still around today as a symbol of victory!

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the mini history lesson!

I am so happy to be able to tell you that I am a finalist in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards for 2016! Stealing Magic is one of the books in the category for 9-12 year olds.

The best thing is that the judging for these awards is done by the target audience, the children themselves. You can read more about how it works here: The Wishing Shelf

I don't think I've stopped smiling since I found out, and I have to admit that I checked the email a few times, to make sure I wasn't imagining it!

Welcome to the seventh week of my blog tour! You can find all of the stops here: Stealing Magic Tour

Today, Monday 27th February, I have been invited to write two guest posts!

You can read my thoughts about The Difficulties of Writing for Middle Grade on The Reading Addict website. I've chosen to explore three challenges related to Middle Grade: how to define it, what makes a good book, and how to reach the target audience. I don't pretend to be any kind of expert though!

Straight from the Library very kindly joined the tour quite recently, which meant that there was no time for a brand new post. The Rules of Magic is being featured there today.

Follow the links below for the chance to enter the giveaway and also to visit the websites of my wonderful hosts for this week.

Straight from the Library

The Reading Addict

This particular world is a hostile one. Jax and Shannon are drawn there against their will by a deadly spell, created by the most evil magician they've encountered so far. In Controlling Magic, the fourth book in the series, there are no guarantees that Androva will survive Imbera's sinister intentions.

I'm still thinking a lot about Imbera, because of the fifth book! I'm not quite ready to say anything specific yet, just in case the writing takes me in an unexpected direction, but I plan to reveal the title and blurb next month ☺

Today I'm posting some images to show what Jax and Shannon see when they first step through the portal onto Imbera. I've had to include part of the book's cover, because I love it too much not to, but the other two images are new. I've included an extract from the book to put it into context.

"All of his concentration was on fighting the books, and so he didn’t realise what she was going to do until it was too late. The Communication Spell rushed into his force field, and within seconds, he was feeling exactly what Shannon was feeling. The compulsion was overwhelming and unbeatable. It crushed his resistance almost immediately.

“I’m sorry,” Shannon whispered. “But I can’t stop. And I can’t let you stop me either.”

Jax helped her to open the portal. They were about to step through the shimmering doorway, when Revus and Penny burst into the room. Revus, torn from sleep and with his hair standing up on one side, recognised the books immediately. Penny still couldn’t see them, because of the joint Distraction and Protection Spells that Revus had been applying every single day, since the first meeting with Karina and Gideon.

“No!” bellowed Revus, charging forwards. But Jax and Shannon were gone.

(intervening chapter not included here, because there would be too many spoilers)

Jax and Shannon found themselves standing on a piece of uneven grey rock when they stepped through the portal. They seemed to be at the very edge of a large island. The rock stretched in front of them, narrow and deserted, for a hundred metres or so before the landscape began to change.

As Shannon lifted her gaze, she saw a city rising up from the rock. The buildings were all shaped with perfectly straight edges, piled next to and on top of each other, to make the most of all the available space. Where the island met the sea, the lower floors almost appeared to be sinking, and Shannon realised that the buildings extended some way underwater.

But it was the light that took her breath away. The city was suspended in a haze of shimmering blues and greens, and lit up from within by pockets of silver and gold.

A small wave lapped over the edge of the rock, and onto her foot. She stepped sideways, bumping into Jax, who was staring past her at the vast expanse of water.

It was such a dark blue, it was almost indigo, and the horizon looked half a world away. It was lighter there, as if a distant sun were too weak to brighten more than half of the sky."

It would be pretty amazing to be able to open a portal and reach your destination in a single step. Obviously, I would hope not to be going to Imbera... but there are a lot of other places I can think of, both fictional and real. Where would you go if you had a portal at your disposal? Thank you for reading!