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The Legacy of Androva Series

A few people have asked me how Jax managed to convince Darius to make that first forbidden trip to Terra in daylight, right at the beginning of the first book. I thought it would be fun to write a new scene as a way of explaining and today's blog post is the result 😊.  It was strange to revisit Jax's character as it was thena little too over-confident and more interested in his own agenda than anyone else's.

I'm glad he ended up taking full responsibility for what happened, protecting Darius from any repercussions (at least on this occasion!). The last line of the scene is the first line of Chapter One in Stealing Magic. Thank you for visiting my blog today and I hope you enjoy the extra content!

“Come on, Darius. Just one trip. What if I’m right? Imagine the opportunity. We’d be heroes for discovering it.” Jax stepped in front of his friend, preventing Darius from reaching the portal room door. He’d been waiting all weekend to catch Darius alone and was determined to make the most of his chance.
“No,” said Darius. He shook his head, frowning. “Is this why you wanted to walk me to the portal room? I thought it was a bit weird. Look,” he added, “I’m saving you from yourself, you idiot. They could remove our magic if we’re caught.”
“They won’t,” said Jax. “They can’t afford to. We’re the best magic-takers Androva has. Reaching the quota each month takes careful planning, which is why this could change everything. If my theory’s right…” He trailed off and raised his eyebrows expectantly. “Anyway, we won’t get caught. What do you take me for? I’ve been breaking the rules and getting away with it all my life.”
“You don’t always get away with it,” argued Darius. “And this isn’t like cutting class at the Seminary. We might end up breaking half the Code.”
Jax looked down at his feet. His black hair, too long as usual, fell onto his forehead. “I know the living magic is stronger in daylight. I know it. I just want my father to look at me with something other than disappointment.”
Darius sighed and Jax, keeping his gaze lowered, tried not to feel too guilty at the lie. He knew he’d get a flat No if he told Darius the real reason he wanted to make a harvesting trip to Terra in daylight. Although his theory about magic-taking was real, it would not have been enough on its own to spur Jax on to such an extent. Nor would a desire for his father’s approval.
“I don’t know, Jax,” said Darius. “Wouldn’t the Council already have tested the daylight thing?”
Jax raised his head. “Maybe. Maybe not. We’re underage magicians—always the last to know.”
“There must be a good explanation for that,” said Darius reasonably. “Otherwise someone would have told tales by now. Why don’t you just explain your theory to Revus? I bet he’d still be impressed.”
“You have a much more optimistic view about my father than I do,” muttered Jax. “Probably because you have two parents and they’re both OK. I mean… OK for parents.” He moved out of Darius’s way, and made to walk back up the winding staircase to the surface, shoulders hunched.
“Wait…” said Darius. “Just… give me a minute.”
Jax paused, biting his lower lip to keep from smiling. Darius was wavering and Jax knew it. There was a short silence.
“When would you want to do this?” asked Darius.
“Now,” said Jax. He turned to face Darius, keeping his expression calm by sheer force of will. Only his green eyes, glittering with excitement and a little magic, gave away his true feelings.
“You mean literally now? This minute?” Darius looked from Jax to the door and back again.
“Yes, right now, Darius, before you get second thoughts. I know the coordinates. It’s a small piece of woodland. I’ve been to it before. We can be there and back in a few minutes.” Jax leaned to push the heavy door open with one hand and grabbed Darius’s upper arm with the other. He pulled Darius inside the portal room and immediately began to activate the symbols on the walls.
Darius watched with wide eyes. “We’re really doing this,” he said in a low voice. “Are we… really… doing this?”
 “Yeah.” Jax grinned. “Come on, get over here. If I could open the portal on my own I wouldn’t have pleaded for your help, would I?”
Darius smiled back. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
“Come on,” said Jax.
Once Darius had activated the second set of symbols, the portal rose up from the spellstation. Its tell-tale shimmer brightened the darkness of the underground room and Jax gave Darius a triumphant look. He’d been half scared the portal might not open during the daytime after all.
Both boys stepped through together and had to cover their eyes at first. It was so much brighter than either of them had expected. Jax, squinting, looked left and right to get his bearings. He froze. She’s here, he thought.
Darius blinked. The grass under his feet was thicker and greener than he’d thought it would be. There wasn’t usually this much grass in Terran woodland and the colour was always faded at night. Keeping his eyes shaded, he turned to look for the trees and let out a gasp of horror.
“For the love of Androva, Jax! There’s a house! Where are we?” His voice was a fierce whisper. Jax didn’t answer and Darius was forced to look away from the house for a second to locate his friend. Jax was staring at a tree at the edge of the grass and lying underneath the tree was a Terran girl. Darius recoiled.
“OK, that’s it. We have to go back. Right now.” Jax didn’t respond. Darius dragged him none too gently by the arm until Jax was close enough for Darius to speak into his ear. “You must have made a mistake with the coordinates.”
Jax remained silent, giving Darius a guilty look.
“You are kidding me,” said Darius slowly. “I might have known there was more to it. A girl. A Terran girl. What if the portal closes? What if she hears us?”
“She can’t hear us. Look, she sleeps,” said Jax.

POV has been on my mind a lot this year. I switched back to third person for the seventh (and final) book in the Legacy of Androva series, after having written books five and six in first person. And now, for my new work-in-progress, I'm back to first person again. I thought I’d write a blog post about my experiences with POV in the hopes it would reassure me that first person is right for this new book.

The first four books in the Legacy of Androva series are written in third person, although I do tend to shadow one character at a time in a chapter or scene and describe their thoughts and perspective in more detail. Whenever the main characters are in a scene together, I have to guard against head-hopping, but the third person POV still gives me a lot of freedom in terms of revealing personality traits, backstory, and plot developments.

Books five and six, Cal’s story and Galen’s story, are written in first person, which was a change and a challenge I really enjoyed. I got to know both characters so well. In both cases, the difficult part wasn’t just how to reveal story elements where my main character was absent, but also the fact that secondary characters can only be seen through that main character’s eyes. (However, it was fun being able to show what Cal and Galen thought about Jax and Shannon!).

Here are a couple of extracts showing the same scene in third person (close on Jax and Shannon in Seeking Magic) and first person (Galen in Surviving Magic). There is a whole lot more to Galen’s story than I was able to show in Seeking Magic, but I thought it still made sense to keep the short crossover. He doesn’t like Jax and Shannon very much in this scene, but he changes his mind later on!

Having looked at the two points of view side by side, I can see there are advantages to both. And I stay so close to the thoughts of my main characters even in third person that perhaps I won’t find the new book as much of a mental shift as I feared. Looks like today’s blog post might have been very helpful 😊

What do you prefer as a writer or as a reader? Is your writing style in terms of POV the same as the books you enjoy reading the most, or is it different? Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Today's blog post is less about words and more about images 📸. I'm writing the first book in a new series and the plot is just starting to come together. I decided now would be a good time to create a collage to sense check the direction I'm headed in!

As ever, I have been unable to outline the story in advance of writing it. However, with each book it's becoming easier to accept that I'll always be a pantser rather than a plotter. There are always moments when I think I'll have to abandon the entire manuscript, but fortunately, so far, I've managed to find a way through.

The result of my efforts is below and I've also included the prologue of the book 😊
Thank you very much for visiting my blog today!

Even though I'm making great progress on the first book in a new series, I couldn't help writing a little bit more content for the Legacy of Androva in today's blog post 😊. This is a letter of sorts, discovered by Cal a few months after the end of Breaking Magic. It was tucked behind a box on the far wall of a certain underground chamber.

Thank you for visiting my blog today and I hope you enjoy this small piece of extra character development!

Once upon a time, we were friends. He trusted me. I’m not ashamed to say I exploited it whenever I could. I knew that, for him, the friendship was real. For me, it was only ever a means to an end. He thought the best of me. There were days I even believed him—that such a version of me existed. He made me want to be that person, someone capable of being content, even happy. Someone who could forget the inequality of birth that separated us and count my blessings instead of my resentments. I hated him for exposing my weakness. But most days I pitied him. It made me feel strong. No matter the privilege granted to him, the magical power, and the easy popularity… he was oblivious to the enemy at his side.

I might have lived my whole life that way. I dare say I would have made the best of it. Even a hidden enemy can achieve a great deal and I’d had years to refine my skills. Until one day a greater threat came to our world, and with it the opportunity of a lifetime. Many lifetimes. My life, and his life, bound together by something other than friendship.

Almost a year passed before I recognised the chance for what it was. At first, I saw only the threat and I was as desperate as everyone else. We worked together, and we tried to find a solution. It was my good fortune our paths had separated by the time I found a way. Without time on my own to refine my plan he might still have prevailed.

But no. My luck held. And the moment has come. I only have to perform the last part of the spell and this world will become mine forever. There will be no magician left with the strength to stop me once he is… gone. I cannot explain why I am finding it so difficult. His conscious mind has already capitulated. Those ridiculous eyes no longer blaze with a determination to do the right thing, even in the face of death. There is no way back. And I don’t care. I don’t. I hate him. Yet I hesitate. Once I do this, no one will ever think the best of me again.

Varun The Breaker

When I wrote Surviving Magic, the sixth book in the Legacy of Androva series, I did a lot of research in an attempt to make Galen's experience of Ancient Rome as accurate as possible. I mean "accurate" in a broad sense because any available information has been subjected to some kind of interpretation bias, to a lesser or greater degree!

It left me with a few unanswered questions, which I am still wondering about. Although I haven't been able to find any definitive answers, I thought it would be interesting to blog about two of them.

Boudicca's Fate
Boudicca was the Queen of a Celtic tribe in England called the Iceni. She led a rebellion against the invading Roman army, which happened around 60AD. Her problems all began when her husband died. He'd ruled more or less independently of Rome, but on his death, his will was ignored, and his kingdom was seized. Boudicca and her daughters were supposed to have been treated pretty badly (I won't go into the nasty details).

Her uprising was almost successful. Emperor Nero seriously considered removing Roman forces from Britain entirely. Boudicca commanded an army 100,000-strong and she destroyed three major cities: Camulodunum, Londinium and Verulamium, killing 80,000 Romans and Britons in the process. She was supposed to have left no one alive, burning the cities to make sure of it. Archaeologists found a layer of black ash beneath the modern-day Verulamium which validates this report. However, despite being massively outnumbered (perhaps by as many as twenty to one), the Romans won the final battle, due to a combination of superior strategy, weapons, and discipline.

This is the point at which accounts differ. We are reliant on Roman historians for our knowledge of the entire uprising and, of course, victors are not necessarily the most reliable narrators! The two main sources disagree. Boudicca was said to have either killed herself in shame, or died of an illness and been given a lavish burial. Those two outcomes are pretty different, don't you think? I was curious enough about the whole thing to invent a fictional account of Boudicca for book six, with a magical slant to the story.

Art: Ancient Rome versus Medieval
Although I didn't spend too much time describing the surroundings of Pompeii and Rome, I did refer to the colours and frescoes (wall paintings) in both Seeking Magic and Surviving Magic. I looked at examples of what had been excavated from Pompeii's ruins and other art from the same time period and I thought it was pretty impressive.

On the left is a Roman painting and on the right is a Medieval one. As far as I can tell from my research, there are approximately 1,000 years separating the two. From century to century, in more recent times, art has tended to become more sophisticated. Not in this case, however. And, in my uneducated opinion, the earlier Roman painting is the one that would look better on my wall.

I haven't been able to find out why art changed so much after the fall of the Roman Empire. Was it suppressed? Were the skills simply lost? Some sources say that art stopped being aspirational, because the Romans used their art to show an idealised and beautiful version of the world. Instead, in the so-called Dark Ages, art became quite controlled with strong links to religion.

Have you ever researched a particular time in our history, either for school, writing, or just general interest? Have you been left with any unanswered questions? Thank you for visiting my blog 😊

Today is a public holiday (in the UK) and the sun is actually shining! It feels like a good time for a blog post with some light-hearted writing quotes. Writing isn't always easy. Well... I could replace "always" with "ever," and it might be a truer statement 😉. But it's also a lot of fun. I love my characters and I love figuring out the trouble they'll get themselves into.

Here are seven quotes about writing that make me smile and remind me to enjoy being a writer, even on days when the words are more of a struggle.

"There's that lovely thing for the first month or two of writing a new book: OK, I don't know what that character's going to do, but we'll find out later. After about three or four months you come to that bit where you've got to put some plot in before it's too late, and you have to go back and start inserting plot, and, ooh, I've left out the literature, OK, lets put some in."
-- Terry Pratchett

"It takes an awful lot of time to not write a book."
-- Douglas Adams

"When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1,500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day."
-- Neil Gaiman

"Distinguish between mystery and confusion. It is good to keep the reader guessing. It is bad to keep the reader confused."
-- Rick Riordan

"To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head..."
-- Lili St. Crow

"If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers."
-- Doug Larson

"The funny thing about writing is that whether you're doing well or doing it poorly, it looks the exact same. That's actually one of the main ways that writing is different from ballet dancing."
-- John Green

Thank you for visiting my blog today and I hope you enjoyed the quotes!

From today and for the next five days, up to and including Sunday 6th May, the Legacy of Androva series will be at a special price on Amazon! Stealing Magic will be FREE and the rest of the books will be priced at $0.99/£0.99 on Amazon US and UK.

You can find Stealing Magic here:

Amazon UK Stealing Magic

Amazon US Stealing Magic

And the series here:

Amazon UK The Legacy of Androva

Amazon US The Legacy of Androva

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