And other confessions

Happy Friday!

I’ve been working on a few short stories, just to keep my mind in writing as I tackle longer projects. I’ve sent one off to a competition so fingers crossed!

On facebook I had a request to write a story for a friend, and here is the result. I keep being very tempted to write about my University years and fictionalise them. It would be a very different genre of novel and voice than I usually use, so I’m still thinking. The working title for the project would be: University and other confessions.

So, here is the beginning;

First things first about moving into University. Despite being ridiculously excited for years, the night before I decided that I didn’t want to go. I was going to stay at home, see the friends I already had, maybe I’d get a job in the local shop. I don’t think I slept.

The next day, I decided to give it a shot. We carried the boxes and the bags up the winding stairs and dropped them on the single bed, ready to be unpacked later. I was itchy with excitement. My heavy, black computer was carefully placed beside the desk. My Mum managed to get trapped in the communal bathroom. She was shouting for help, banging on the heavy wooden door as I smiled a nervous hello to my new flatmates; Rob and Rob, and Rod. At least their names would be easy to remember.

Once security freed her, I ushered my family out of the flat and waved them away from the kitchen window. Goodbyeeee. Dear God, please don’t come back.

The bed was made, pictures stuck to the wall. Computer plugged in and speakers rattling with the sound of Panic! At the Disco. I heard the flat door opening, then slamming shut. I peered out from my bedroom. The corridor carpet had once been blue. It still was blue beside the skirting boards. The centre was grey and worn out with age. Oh, well imagine, As I’m pacing the pews in a church corridor, And I can’t help but to hear.

She said goodbye to her Mother and went to wave goodbye from the kitchen window.

Hi!

Hi there!

Did you want some help setting up your computer?

Yes!

It didn’t take long. I crawled under the desk, kettle-lead in hand. I threaded the mouse and keyboard wires down the back, against the faded green wall. Somewhere in the background, the Killers broke into song. Coming out of my cage, And I’ve been doing just fine.

I had an emo fringe and she had Avril Lavigne hair. I wore a black t-shirt and my nails were painted blue. She stacked UB40 and Offpsring CD’s on the desk and I offered Green Day as a swap. Her TV started tuning, the slow line inching across the screen. We had tea. Milky, but not too milky and two sugars in mugs that still wore price stickers.

We took a walk to explore the campus. It was an end of summer day, bright and warm with stretched-out clouds and golden light. I don’t remember who started skipping first. But we were flying across the manicured lawn.

There was a statue, half hidden behind flowers and long grass. A man, upright in bronze with his hands resting lightly in his lap. I don’t remember who asked, and who answered.

Who’s that?

Geoff!

But they were right. It was Geoff, and we laughed at the incredible coincidence. We laughed and laughed until we couldn’t stand. That was the moment I knew. No matter what happened, we would always be stuck together. There would always be me and you.

Roses stretch like weeds

In a response to today’s daily prompt I incorporated the word Spike into my flash fiction challenge.

This is the final contribution to my series of seasonal flash-fictions of 99 words each!.

A thousand petals like fallen snow, gather on the ground. The sun peers through growing buds until the rain blasts the ground, the fades. Bright skies return and the tarmac steams. Blackbirds chatter at the cat as she crouches, patiently, hopeful that the grass gives camouflage to her black and white fur. The roses have stretched like weeds against the garden fence, thorns that cover the stems in belligerent spikes. The cat sinks further, nose and tail extended.  The garden is growing, bursting forth; but she remains still. Nose twitching, eyes narrowed on target. A sparrow hops towards her.

I have to admit that I’ve really been struggling with this image as there are so many clichés that just felt unavoidable. The challenge was meant to explore the seasons in slightly different ways and give a unique texture or taste to them.

Please find the further three contributions below; but which piece is which? Leave me a message and let me know if you’ve managed to work them all out!

One:

The sky is a tapestry of falling rain and threads of smoke. Leaves drift in slow spirals between heavy drops. Grey puddles spill off the path and into sodden grass, tramped with muddy boots and wellingtons. Water gurgles in the roadside drains and steals away with sycamore seeds. Conker shells burst, shining chestnut nestled between layers of bronze, amber and fading green. Interwoven clouds in faded lines and jagged blue tears. Pale sunlight peers through the cracks and paints the tarmac gold. The umbrella snaps to attention, stolen from a desperate grasp, whipped up, away, lost to the tapestry.

Two:

Spires of bright fuchsia sway. Scattered bursts of buttercup, daisies and dandelions dance on the meadow. Waves of long grass whisper and break on the fence line. The thump and trundle of an antique tractor approaches, rumbling over hard-baked earth. The driver bounces from window to window over the dips and furrows of the ancient field. A blast of Heart FM twists across the boundary. Bare toes wriggle on the fresh-clipped lawn. Wide-eyes fixed on cracked blue paint. Pigtails and tiny fingers stick in fresh varnish. The metallic beast makes a slow spin, grumbling, puffing, ready for the next charge.

Three:

I love it when the air smells like ice. Dark green pine sways between barren branches and then mountains rise behind. Cars crunch salt, engines purring. It’s an experience, negotiating ice in six-inch heels; challenge accepted.  Coffee cup clutched tight to my chest. The bitter taste of rising steam is mellowed with double cream. Hat pulled low on burning ears and sunglasses paint the sky in gentler hues; lines of pink and gold across frozen blue. There’s another flurry on the horizon. Feet slip without warning. The ground is harder than it looks and less forgiving. Must buy boots.

Four: 

A thousand petals like fallen snow, gather on the ground. The sun peers through growing buds until the rain blasts the ground, the fades. Bright skies return and the tarmac steams. Blackbirds chatter at the cat as she crouches, patiently, hopeful that the grass gives camouflage to her black and white fur. The roses have stretched like weeds against the garden fence, thorns that cover the stems in belligerent spikes. The cat sinks further, nose and tail extended.  The garden is growing, bursting forth; but she remains still. Nose twitching, eyes narrowed on target. A sparrow hops towards her.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Fibi

When the air smell likes ice

Following on from my self-set challenge, here is the third in a series of seasonal flash-fiction. Again, I’m not going to tell what the season is, but I really hope that you can guess.

I love it when the air smells like ice. Dark green pine sways between barren branches and then mountains rise behind. Cars crunch salt, engines purring. It’s an experience, negotiating ice in six-inch heels; challenge accepted.  Coffee cup clutched tight to my chest. The bitter taste of rising steam is mellowed with double cream. Hat pulled low on burning ears and sunglasses paint the sky in gentler hues; lines of pink and gold across frozen blue. There’s another flurry on the horizon. Feet slip without warning. The ground is harder than it looks and less forgiving. Must buy boots.

Part One and Two can be found respectively.

Once part four is thrown up here then I’ll compile them together into a post. I’ll probably even tell you what seasons I was originally aiming for. Fingers-crossed that I’ve managed to avoid my natural inclination to the abstract. I have a tendency to think flash-fiction and then jump across to poetry. So you may have noticed some rhymes sneaking in.  The only problem is, that my abstract is often too abstract for most people to make any sense of it.  So what I’ve been learning is to write simply. Or rather…more simply. If I have an image in mind then just say what I see without trying (and usually failing) to be clever.

Unexpected

I’ve set myself a challenge to create a series of flash-fiction. Just four pieces of 99 words each and representing the seasons. Here is the second piece, aptly named, number two. I’m really hoping that you can work out which season is which!

Seasonal Flash-Fiction: Two

Spires of bright fuchsia sway. Scattered bursts of buttercup, daisies and dandelions dance on the meadow. Waves of long grass whisper and break on the fence line. The thump and trundle of an antique tractor approaches, rumbling over hard-baked earth. The driver bounces from window to window over the dips and furrows of the ancient field. A blast of Heart FM twists across the boundary. Bare toes wriggle on the fresh-clipped lawn. Wide-eyes fixed on cracked blue paint. Pigtails and tiny fingers stick in fresh varnish. The metallic beast makes a slow spin, grumbling, puffing, ready for the next charge.

I’ve been finding these pieces harder than I expected! For only ninety-nine words they’re taking me far longer than it would take to write 500. When I start writing a new chapter I like to set a scene. With the seasonal flash-fiction I’m trying not to be overly direct and say ‘this is spring!’ etc and the idea of flash-fiction is maybe to do more than just my usual flowery openings that then develop into a story. The flash-fiction is a mini story in itself and I don’t really have the time, or the words, to provide an expansive introduction and explore a character.

So I start with a few opening lines and then as I struggle to piece those together I’m searching for the twist or just the question that the fiction can raise. So far, two down, two to go and I’m satisfied I’ve been able to full-fill my own criteria. I hope that you enjoy them.

The first piece can be found here:

Seasonal Flash-Fiction: One 

If anyone wants to join in the challenge, I’d love to read your pieces. Just 99 words of flash-fiction inspired by a season. Drop me a comment or e-mail me at fibijeeves@gmail.com.

Responding to the Daily Prompt Outlier. I hope that I’ve been able to challenge a few expectations in the fiction and provide something unexpected.

Denying Winter

I’ve had twenty years of winter and no it’s nothing to do with GOT, sorry! Twenty years is roughly how long I’ve been dreaming up Burning Embers, writing the universe, drawing the characters, scrapping it all and starting again, and again and then going into fine-tuning and comma placements – before scrapping all of that! It’s been a big project and definitely one of those that’s taken on a life of its own and one day, very soon, I’m going to share it with you.

In the meantime, Burning Embers is set on the cusp of deep winter. It’s a harsh, cold and unforgiving environment and I purposely studied in Canada for a year, so that I could really understand snow. Having been born and raised in Middle-England and the modernish equivalent of Hobbiton, fields, gentle hills, farmlands, small streams, traditional pubs, more fields, snow wasn’t something I experienced much of. Rain on the other hand, is a different story. I’ve grown up feeling like a rain expert and that’s probably something to do with the wide vocabulary that the British have developed to describe water falling from the sky, or sideways – because sometimes the rain is sideways.

Still, working on Burning Embers for such a pro-longed period of time, has meant that mentally, I’m in Narnia. It’s always winter and never Christmas. Descriptions are of frost-covered trees and the crunch of deep snow. So when I decided that I was going to start a new project, it perhaps isn’t a surprise that it’s set in summer. There will be blue skies and butterflies! There will be warm weather! It’s been refreshing to explore a new season and so I thought that I’d combine that thought with my current attempts at flash-fiction.

This has been a very long introduction for a short project, so I hope I’ve kept your attention so far. I want to try a series of flash fiction for the changing seasons.  I’ve given myself exactly 99 words for each. A different season is going to be posted up in the next four blog posts.

I hope that you’ll be able to work out which season is which, because I’m not going to label them, let me know in the comments!

So here they are, my escape from winter, followed by the inevitable return.

Seasonal Flash-Fiction – One

The sky is a tapestry of falling rain and threads of smoke. Leaves drift in slow spirals between heavy drops. Grey puddles spill off the path and into sodden grass, tramped with muddy boots and wellingtons. Water gurgles in the roadside drains and steals away with sycamore seeds. Conker shells burst, shining chestnut nestled between layers of bronze, amber and fading green. Interwoven clouds in faded lines and jagged blue tears. Pale sunlight peers through the cracks and paints the tarmac gold. The umbrella snaps to attention, stolen from a desperate grasp, whipped up, away, lost to the tapestry.

 

Tied into the Daily Prompt Denial

A New Challenge – Guest Post! BubblingWIP

This week I thought I would take on a new challenge with my blog and introduce a guest blogger. Please extend a warm welcome to Sawyer of Bubblingwip.com!

A few weeks (or months) ago, I received a lovely comment from a follower and was touched by their encouragement. It was a moment and I followed them to their own corner of the web and found Bubbling WIP. But how is this all relevant you ask?

Well, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been struggling to find the time and commitment to blog here. (Sad times) In the past few weeks I’ve also lost the time to write, but I’ll get it back – I’ll start going through my own rules of how to get back into writing and gosh darn it, I’ll be flying again!

Anyway, inspiration struck at Bubblingwip. I liked the blog, I liked the writer and their philosophy. So I reached out to try something new. Hello, I said. Would you like to do a guest post?  (Having never done this before, or really know how to do it…) Luckily for me Sawyer said yes please and was happy for me to bimble through the hows and the what and work things out.

I do have to make an apology though – I’ve become that person I find frustrating. I’ve been sitting on Sawyer’s carefully crafted answers for too long because the month just ran away with me. However, I am really excited to give you this guest post and hope that I can be forgiven for my extreme slowness.  Having a guest post was a challenge and one I’d be willing to take up again.

So, without further rambling and ado – over to Sawyer of BubblingWip.com

  1. What inspired your current bubbling work in progress?

Well, I started painting years ago, teaching myself how to use the different brushes and mix the paint. Because I have never had a formal education in art, my work was shut out of some places without ever being looked at. The same is true with my writing. It can be intimidating to see other writers’ long list of literary achievements to go along with their literary degrees. So my intention was to create a space for both writers and artists to share their work and ideas, no degree required. I am also getting close to wrapping up my manuscript, so I wanted to use this blog as a platform to share my progress as I go along. Hopefully, what I am learning may help other writers who are trying to achieve the same thing.

  1. Since starting out on your writer’s journey, what are the top three things you have learnt?

1) The importance of an outline! When beginning my book, the outline was essential for me to map out how I needed to get started while still staying on course during the drafting process.

2) I’ve learned that sometimes rules are made to be broken. This applies to grammar rules. I refuse to use a semicolon in my writing. Trust a fragment sentence sometimes. Writing is supposed to flow with the rhythm of speech and thought, both of which are fragmented at times.

3) The last tip without a doubt would be the importance of finding good readers to work with. I have been blessed to have found some outstanding readers-not family- who have committed their time and energy into reviewing my work. Because of their insightful tips and sharp eyes on catching my mistakes, my manuscript has been able to develop and transform into it’s full potential.

  1. What is the one piece of advice you wish you’d had when you first started?

Get to researching! I have been writing for years, but it was always for my own pleasure. When I finally decided I wanted to get published, I had no clue where to begin. Honestly, I think that actually finishing up my manuscript was less daunting than gathering all the information I needed to publish traditionally.

  1. What is your opinion on the traditional publishing route vs self-publishing?

I love that self-publishing has become so popular. With sites like Kindle, Amazon, and Smashwords, it has really opened doors for independent writers to get their work out there. Even the writers who want to publish without waiting however many years it could take to find an agent to help get their work published traditionally. I considered self-publishing, but after giving it a lot of thought, I would rather be patient, bide my time, and cross my fingers that I can find an agent to work with.

  1. What do you imagine your next project will be about?’

The outline for my next project is already in the works. I am planning a second part to my book, Mellie: Vinyl and Candy. I knew when I finished up the last chapter that my main character had more to tell. Her story is not yet finished.

Thank you so much for your contribution. I’m more than a bit envious that you’re working on something new! I keep being tempted to step aside but I must finish the current project. Maybe then I can start to re-explore something new, maybe a different genre or form? I’m very tempted by radio plays and short stories at the moment. They just seem easier to close down and finish.

Thank you again – lets here it for the wonderful Bubblingwip!

Fibi

It’s potential – Leave it!

I’m a big believer in getting out what you put in. Unless of course it’s a bank balance, at which point I am a fan of Dylan Moran and the understanding that you always have less money than you think you do. And personal potential – ‘It’s potential- leave it!’

But there I digress from today’s Daily Prompt. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, do I agree? At which point I say yes. When I approach the day in a positive way I find that it goes better. That isn’t to say that the day is perfect and I can skip through it like Julie Andrews – but it is easier to face the little hurdles or the giant mountains that are thrown at you, because you start off in a better place. This also isn’t to say that being positive is easy. It can take a lot of energy – especially first thing in the morning before I’ve had some coffee!

There are definitely some days though when I feel that honestly, I can’t be bothered to be super happy. There lies the struggle, the forced effort to push myself into a better day. I can always feel my emotional feet dragging at that point and it’s tempting to just let the gloom pull me down, to wrap myself in that blanket of ‘bleurgh’. If I’m honest, sometimes I let it get the better of me and I might even go a few days of being in a foul mood which usually will lift on its own. Sometimes though, it takes a really good laugh with friends or Mr L to push it all away.

But the thing to remember, that I always hang onto is that everything changes. Tomorrow will always be different and unless you can predict the future or have a magic crystal ball – you don’t know how it’s going to be or what’s coming. It might be a train-wreck or it might be beautiful, we just don’t know. But either way everything is always changing.

In terms of beauty, I think you have to be in place to appreciate it. When there’s that inner glow you can see the world and the people in it and their myriad beauty. If you’re feeling like you want to wrap a duvet over your head and sleep for a month – you’re less inclined to notice things around. Beauty is in the eye of those able to search for it but everyone needs a little reminder sometimes that the world is enormous despite the globalization that the internet has bought us.

One more time I tell you – Just one more time!

Machines, appliances, and gadgets sometimes feel like they have their own personalities — from quirky cars to dignified food processors. What’s the most “human” machine you own?

This is my response to today’s Daily Prompt However, I cannot remember if I’ve already done a post on this pressing matter.  Either way the, printer and I are going to have a falling out. We’re having a break-up really. This is all I have to say.

Dear Printer,

I love it when you’re printing out what is need and everything fine. You do your job, I do mine. Our relationship is in harmony. We’re a team.It’s working. Pages flow out in a continuous stream. But then you decide that you need a clean. That is fine. I’m really okay with it. Everyone needs to have a little tidy every now and again. I’m happy that you feel so confortable that you can take a break, and have a clean. But why printer, why after cleaning, do you print one page and then decide to clean again?  How can you print so merrily for so many days, and then suddenly need so many breaks and why do you need so much time off, when it is most important that you work efficiently? Now, I musn’t get to angry, or suspicious that you’re planning this on purpose.

I also struggle to understand why whenever I need a dozen copies for a meeting and you decide to start chewing up paper. Or do your new favourite trick, folding over paper corners and then printing some words on a random slant – on the wrong side of the sheet!

Now, I like to think I’m eco friendly and where possible, I try to make electronic copies and save things to the computer rather than print. But sometimes printer, sometimes I really need to print and I need you to respect that.

I’ve  been told that I’m not allowed to threaten you and I want to get past the problems we have. I want to learn how to accept you as you are. But I’m telling you, if you tell me you’re cleaning one more time today- just one more time!

Well then. I’m sorry. But no one will be able to find PARTS of you big enough to work out what you once were.

Your loving Fibi xxx

Or in the words of the great from Red Dwarf:

KOCHANSKI

One more time, and you get *this*. D’you hear?? Don’t think I don’t mean it! One more time, just – one more.

KOCHANSKI

Have you ever listened to those clapped-out old pipes? ‘Nureek’ing and ‘retut’ing, and just when you expect them to ‘nureek’ again, they ‘squrlookal’!

It’s enough to make a perfectly sane person crazy!!!

So Many Plans…

What am I working on now?

Well, my amazing cousin Alex is approaching the final stages of his ten adventures. It’s been emotional folks! But as a final project in support of this I will be editing/pulling together a second book with memories, blogs, poems and photographs about the ten different events he has completed from all the people who have helped along the way. This will (hopefully) be available to buy at a final shindig to celebrate all that has been achieved this year.

I’m also plugging away at the rest of my manuscript. I have 30,000 beautifully polished words and have realised that the rest of the book needs a good shine up too! I have written a (very long – how did that happen!?) new chapter but am approaching a point where the old manuscript and the new manuscript can marry up nicely. Whoopeee!!! So close, it’s so close now!

Other creative projects include the planning stages of not one, not two, but three murder mysteries with my partner in crime-writing Mr Lovely. Two of these events to be hosted at the gorgeous Racing Sea Horses B & B in England have already sold out. They’re fully booked! Eeek! We best get plotting! But it’s okay we have an A2 pad for brainstorming and everything…

Finally, blogging! I intend to create more blogs and return to my writing conundrums, explanations and explorations of craft.

So many plans.

Have wonderful Tuesdays!

Fibi xx

Challenge: 10 Books

So this challenge popped into my inbox today. The 10 books you read growing up that have stuck with you, from Write on the World and my list is of course below. I was quite surprised by my own choices and memory of the books that have stuck. I was trying to think way back into the origin of my Fairy and Folk-tale obsession and couldn’t find it. I have always loved Disney so perhaps these films are the cause of my fascination?

I’ve tried to put the books in order of how I remember them, so they’re listed as I grew up and they’re an odd mix! But they all had an impact on my life, reading and writing ambition. I was a voracious reader as a child but time and ‘being busy’ has limited my ability to just indulge in a good book.

  1. Narnia – Horse and his boy – C.S.Lewis

Again this was inspired by a film. We used to watch the animated Lion Witch and Wardrobe over Christmas and on sick days. I absolutely loved it! However I realised that our VHS recording ran out 5 minutes before the end of the film so I saw the Pevensie’s following the white stag and then….well I don’t know what I assumed happened!

But my older brother bought me the box set of the chronicles and I devoured them all. I must have read the whole set about 100 times, but my strongest memories are of the Horse and His boy. I have to admit, that it inspired a few of my early attempts at writing, a protagonist sent away as a baby to protect him from an evil wizard. Excellent work. Talking horses – even better!

The Pevensie’s always struck a particular chord with me in that I have three siblings. Including an older brother (the oldest) and gorgeous older sister. Two son’s of Adam and two daughters of Eve. Narnia, here we come!

So many disappointed attempts to cajole my siblings to climb into a wardrobe…

 

  1. Five go on a hike together / Valley of Adventure – Enid Blyton

There was a definitely point in my life when I was Enid Blyton obsessed. I read everything she’d written that I could lay may hands on. I even asked my Mum if I could go to boarding school and was more than a little bit heartbroken when she said no. So I started writing plays about what it would be like, largely based on Blyton, I have to admit! I planned out props, costumes, stage directions. I don’t think the drafts ever developed beyond coloured pencils on scrap paper, but I was determined.

The two books above are ones that I remember most clearly. Five on a hike has the children and Timmy (their dog) trying to recover ‘treasure’ from the bottom of a river. The scenes where lights are flashing over the moors and Julian is diving in freezing water has stayed with me. Including a love of Ginger Beer (Best hangover cure. Ever. I love how things evolve.) I was also beside myself when my family adopted a dog, not quite called Timmy, but Sammy was close enough.

 

As for the Valley of Adventure this gave me such a vivid image of a exotic jungle location and a secret civilization inside a volcano, that when I read H.Rider Haggard’s She for the first year of my degree, I felt I already knew the landscape and exactly where She resided. Very strange but quite amazing.

 

  1. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge and Heidi from Johanna Spyri

I loved both of these books equally and also feel that mention should be given to Anne of Green Gables as well, for some reason they all a grouped together in my mind. However, Katy and Heidi I always found poignant as my cousin had Cystic Fibrosis. Both Katy and Heidi’s cousin (Claire?) are ill. Katy is bedridden for much of her book after an accident and Claire seems to have a degenerative disease. Heidi definitely brings home the idea of healthy food, fresh air and good simple living. I loved the Grandpa that lived on the hill, and the image of Heidi sleep walking when she stays in the city is still haunting.

Ah just remembered, the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Another haunting novel of a young boy kept prisoner by his illness and inept medical professionals who inflict torture in misguided attempts to keep him alive despite being afflicted by ill-health. Fortunately the protagonist is a rule breaker and sneaks him out of his room and again, fresh air and good fun enact something of a cure. That is how I remember it anyway.

  1. Danny champion of the world – Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was a wizard of words. This was my favourite though, a boy who lives in the forest and tries to pheasant poach with his Dad. I can’t help but remember what Dahl says about baths in this book, and every time I see a pheasant I wonder how it would taste…

  1. Machine Gunners – Robert Westall

I found this book accidentally. It was just one that was in a book case at home and I’d never noticed it before. It’s a powerful portrayal of the second world war. A group of children create their own air raid bunker complete with anti-aircraft defence. My strongest images of WW2 on the home front is a mash of Dad’s Army and this text.

  1. And then there were none – Agatha Cristie

Between the ages of 12 -14 I went through a serious spooky phase and read a lot of Agatha Cristie. The chilling tale of how a group of men and woman are stranded on an island and killed off one by one still gives me nightmares! I think it’s the reason I stopped reading crime. Well a mixture of Cristie and Goosebumps. Too many dark tales. I realised that my imagination didn’t need help coming up with villains.

  1. Dragons of Autumn Twilight – Margarat Weis and Tracy Hickman

When I bought this battered, slightly mouldy copy for 5 pence from a Village Fete I fell in love. Yes Dragonlance has been criticised for bringing stock ‘Knight, cleric, wizard, barbarian etc’ to life but I loved it. It had dragons, it had a brooding half-elf. It had a beautiful princess who turned into leader of armies. After Narnia I’d entered a period where I needed fantasy in my life. Dragonlance opened up a whole series. And from Dragonlance I found Forgotten Realms, Drizzt Do’Urden, the Harpers and on and on. I was bowled away.

  1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I was a teenager when Harry Potter first emerged. My younger brother insisted that he had to have the first two books after reading the first at school. I don’t think he’s ever asked for a book before or after and so my parents were willing to oblige. I however, was far too cool at 13 to jump on any bandwagon! Then I got bored on the way to my grandparents and they were both in the back of the car. I finished the first and then spent the day sat in the loft of their bungalow devouring the second. I was just in time for the third book which is still the best in my opinion. It had enough of my Blyton boarding school nostalgia and my love of fantasy. It had depth, a mystery to be solved and a wrong to be righted.

  1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

I was introduced to Jane and Mr Rochester by the school curriculum and I have to admit that the ‘red room’ scene has inspired a similar claustrophobic and hysterical scene in my own manuscript. I just remember feeling young Jane’s heartbreak and fear at being locked in the room. The chapter still makes me cry. Amazing stuff.

10.Tamora Pierce – Page, Lady Knight then all of the rest of everything she’s ever written

I was so late to find Tamora Piece. I got a random book out the library called Page because it had a girl who was in training to be a Knight and I so badly wanted to be one to. I had to go back the next day and get out the rest of Tamora’s back collection. It was like finding a soul mate. Here was Alanna, Daine, Keladry. The female protagonist’s I’d spent my childhood searching for. I’d found them at long last! I find it really difficult to express my sheer joy at the discovery. It actually hurt. I might have cried a little bit.

One of my outstanding memories of Tortall is when Kel returns after becoming a traitor. She disobeys direct orders from the King to save refugees that had been under her care, and children who would have been murdered in the name of dark magic. Here is my more artistic representation of the moment Kel returns to Tortall and falls to her knees at the feet of the King. Prepared to face her punishment.

It’s been fascinating remember how important these books have been in my life and the decisions and choices I’ve made. I write because I want to return the feeling of euphoria to my readers. That sense that, as a growing child, a young adult, anything is possible.

Have lovely weekends.

Fibi xxx