The Friday Fiction featuring Jay Howard

  jay

A Nice Cup of Tea

Laura parks in front of the sprawling farmhouse and walks back across the yard to close the five-bar gate. The metal spring catch is warm in her hand, the air suffused with the scent of apples ripening on a half dozen sun-dappled trees.

Against her will her eyes are drawn across the valley and the gentle contours of the Chilterns towards Ivinghoe Beacon. She feels her heart start pounding. That’s where it had happened, with the Harvest Moon silvering their bodies and the chalk landscape glowing a ghostly white. That memory is all she’s had for so long now she finds it hard to remember the wonder, the joy.

“Go on!” The voice in her head is as loud as the voice she heard on that fateful day nearly forty years ago. “Get off this land, you lying whore, and don’t ever come back!”  Continue reading

Conor Kelly & The Fenian King Mini Blog Tour Stop 2| Chapter Reveal

So it’s Day 2 of the Conor Kelly and The Fenian King Mini Blog Tour, and after our cosy little chat yesterday at the very lovely Jane DoughertyWrites..., today we’re staying right at home on Aliisaacstoryteller, and I’m going to give you an exclusive peak into the opening chapters of my yet to be released new book, Conor Kelly and The Fenian King… oh, did I mention  I have a new book launching on Monday? Once in passing, you say…lol!

So without further ado, I present to you my new book, the second in The Tir na Nog Trilogy, Conor Kelly and The Fenian King…

Prologue – The Prophecy
Ireland – 3rd Century AD

Fionn mac Cumhall threw back his shaggy blonde head and roared. Across the battle field, five figures answered his call by stepping forward from the ranks of warriors who seethed and swirled in combat around them.

The five sons of Urgriu. The leaders of the enemy battalions. While they still lived, their men fought fiercely. Dead, and their army would lose heart, perhaps even surrender.

It might be his last act, but he could do it. He was Fionn mac Cumhall, greatest leader of the Fianna that ever lived. He had led a good life, a long life for a warrior. Perhaps now it was time to offer it up for the sake of his men, and the people of Ireland.

The smell of blood and the sight of broken bodies filled his senses. The carrion crows already gathered, anticipating great feasting. On the outskirts of the battle, looters were even now raiding the bodies of the fallen, both living and dead. The clash and thud of weapons, the exultant cries of the death-dealers, the screams of the injured and the moans of the dying, it all mingled together into the cacophony of war, a familiar music he had danced to so many times.

Memories came rushing back to him now, sweeping through him like the winter wind which tore across this land he loved so well; his childhood in the forest of Sliabh Bladhma with warrior-woman, Liath Luachra, and Bodhmall, his druid aunt; a tender kiss from his mother, Muirna; serving the mage, Finegas, on the banks of the River Boyne; his first union with his beloved wife, Sadbh; defeating Aillen of the Sidhe, who had laid waste to the palace at Tara with fire every Samhain; usurping Goll as head of the Fianna, reward bestowed upon him by the grateful High King, Cormac mac Art. Ah, but that was a sweet moment! Yet it was that act which had ultimately led to this ill-fated conflict.

Now, it was time to finish it. As the riastradh, the red frenzy of battle, descended upon him, Fionn cast aside his battered shield, already hacked to pieces, and hefted his sword in both hands. With a fierce cry, he charged down the hill and dived headlong into the fray.

The five brothers ran forward eagerly to meet him.

******

From his vantage point overlooking the carnage, Finegas stirred.

“Your time is not yet come, Fionn mac Cumhall,” he muttered. “You are descended of Nuada, first King of the Tuatha de Denann. Royal Sidhe blood runs in your veins. You are duty-bound to deliver your people. There is one more task you must do, before you go to your final rest.”

With that, Finegas took up his wooden staff, and strode down onto the battle field.

******

“I tell you, his body is not there,” insisted Caoílte mac Rónáin. “We have been searching for days. The injured have been sorted from the dead; the bodies are waiting for burial or cremation. We cannot delay much longer for fear of disease.”

The surviving leaders of the Fianna had gathered in the tent of Feircobh, King of Munster.

“We are having the devil’s own job fending off the scavengers and looters,” added Feircobh. “We need to act now.”

“Some say it was Aichlech mac Dubdrenn who struck off his head, but even I cannot see if that is so,” said Diorruing, who had the second sight.

Conan mac Lia, Fionn’s right-hand man, had assumed command of the Fianna in his friend’s absence. He set his jaw stubbornly. “We look again. He must be there. You saw him; he was beset by all five brothers at once. There is no way even he could have survived such an onslaught.”

Tense with frustration, he looked round at the faces of each of his companions, one by one, desperately seeking their agreement. Their eyes slid guiltily away from his, and he knew they had made their decision.

And then, a new voice spoke which they did not recognise, a voice as faint as a breath of summer air, yet which throbbed with knowledge and the promise of secret power.

“The age of the Fianna is over. Never again will this land experience such greatness as existed under the hand of the Fenian King.”

An aged man, leaning on a large stick, stood just inside the tent opening. He cast a thin, dark shadow against the sunlight.

Feircobh glared at him in annoyance. “Who are you, and how did you get past my guards?” he demanded.

The old man’s voice was tremulous, not much more than a whisper. “The Fenian King rests beneath the hill. He will answer the call of his people once more in their hour of greatest need.”

Caoílte started forwards eagerly. “The Fenian King? Do you mean my Uncle? Do you have news of him?”

The old man did not acknowledge him. He turned and hobbled out through the opening.

Although the men chased after him, turning over the camp in their efforts to locate him, the strange old man was nowhere to be found. It was as if he had simply vanished into thin air.

Chapter One – Abandoned
 
the present day…

Abandoned. Again. This time by his own family.

Couldn’t wait to see the back of me. Didn’t even have time to come in for a cuppa. Just dumped the disabled boy and his luggage, and beat it as quick as they could.

Conor sat in his wheelchair in his aunt’s bright, country kitchen and fumed. Her light, nervous chatter fluttered over his head like a cloud of twittering birds. He wasn’t really listening. He was too caught up in his anger. Every now and then, he intercepted a worried glance as she stood at the wooden table, chopping carrots for dinner. He attempted what he hoped was a reassuring smile, and not the tight grimace it felt like.

His parents and two sisters were walking the Wicklow Way; one hundred and thirty two kilometres of mountain trails and breath-taking scenery.

Talk about rubbing it in.

There was nothing Conor would have loved more than to be able to walk. Just to get up and move using his own two legs. Even from his wheelchair to the kitchen table would have felt good right then, never mind up hill and down dale in the great outdoors.

He knew it was unreasonable to resent his family for escaping on this adventure without him. He also knew how guilty they felt about leaving him behind. But it still hurt.

Just then, the back door burst open, and a girl a few years older than himself sauntered in, throwing herself down into a chair at the table. She looked pale and tired.

Conor’s aunt immediately put down her knife, and adopted an aggressive stance, fists on hips.

“Well, and where have you been, young lady? Out all night with never even a phone call, and your cousin arriving this afternoon. At the very least you could have been here to meet him. I did warn you.”

“I was out,” said the girl, with a yawn. “I’m here now, aren’t I?”

Conor’s aunt paused, pushing her hair from her eyes with the back of a hand. That gesture reminded him vividly of his mother.

“You look a mess, Ciara,” she said quietly.

“Not now, mam,” groaned Ciara, getting up and heading for the kettle. As she passed Conor, she said absently “Want a cup of tea, Conor? Haven’t seen you in ages. What the hell happened to your hair? I always thought you were a carrot-head.”

“His hair?” echoed his aunt, staring at him.

Ciara rolled her eyes skyward impatiently, and ignored her mother’s puzzled comment.

Conor held his breath. How can she see that my hair is white? Human eyes shouldn’t be able to see it. His heart began to race.

Ciara didn’t wait for a reply, but poured out three cups of tea.

“We’re going into the living room with ours,” she announced to her mother, and began propelling Conor’s wheelchair out of the kitchen and into the lounge. This was a large sunny room with a central fireplace around which several sofas huddled. At one end, a solid old bookcase ran the length of the wall. Ciara wheeled Conor into the bright bay window where a motley selection of armchairs were grouped around a coffee table facing a flat-screen TV. Ciara grabbed the remote control off the table and flicked through the music channels.

Ciara sprawled in one of the armchairs, hugging a cushion to her chest.

“Does it have to be so loud?” complained her mother, following them in with a tray upon which balanced their tea and a plate of warm, home-baked scones.

“Of course it does.” Ciara’s reply was flippant. “We’re young. Weren’t you young once? No…probably not. Never mind, go back to your kitchen and your cooking, if you don’t like it.”

“Less of your lip, young lady. What has got into you, these days? Don’t think you can get away with such rudeness just because we have a guest. Wait till your Dad gets home.”

“Mam, just get off my case, will you?” Ciara pointed the remote control at the TV and turned up the volume.

“Don’t you mind her,” Conor’s aunt said to him. “And don’t go picking up any of her bad habits, either. Your mam would kill me.” She smiled, and left the room.

Conor stared at Ciara. She looked almost ghost-like with her white skin and pale, scruffy hair. She looked like she hadn’t seen the sun, or eaten, in weeks.

“What bands do you like?” She glanced over at him, as she continued flicking through the channels. “I like anything grungy, especially Nirvana. I know they’re a bit retro these days, but that’s why I like them.”

Conor decided to try something. He reached out to her with his mind. Why are you so rude to your mam?

Ciara’s eyes were glued to the telly. “Oh, she’s so frustratingly boring and old before her time. Besides, I’m a teenager. We’re not supposed to get on.”

Conor bit back his excitement. She could hear his thoughts, and had answered him without even realising. He sent her a reply. Well, I’m a teenager, and I get on pretty well with my mam.

“Well, I guess you’re lucky then. Anyway, you’re…different. She probably lets you get away with murder.”

The remote control slipped from Ciara’s hand and clattered on the floor as she turned to stare at Conor, eyes wide as realisation dawned.

“What…what just happened? You’re talking, but you’re not…speaking.” She looked confused and frightened, perched on the edge of her chair like a rabbit ready to bolt.

Conor smiled reassuringly. It’s Ok. It’s just that you’re telepathic. So am I. It’s a gift.

“Man, I must have had a little too much tequila last night. They warned me it could mess with your brain.” She lay back in her chair, groaning, eyes closed. “This can’t be happening.”

Conor chuckled. Well, it is, so you better get used to it.

Ciara opened her eyes and glared at him. “It’s not funny. Anyway, I thought you were some kind of vegetable, or something.”

Conor blinked. Vegetable? That’s not very nice. Is that really what everyone thinks?

Ciara blushed. “Well, you can’t communicate. What are we supposed to think?”

I’m communicating with you now.

Ciara considered that for a moment. “I guess no one else knows you can do this, then?”

Conor shook his head.

Ciara sat forward, her eyes sparkling. “Cool! So we have a secret. This could be fun. Why don’t you want anyone to know?”

It’s…complicated. Conor wondered how much he could tell her. He was elated to have found someone he could share his secret with. The weight of it had been crushing him these last few months. He decided to hold off for now, and changed the subject.

So what’s going on with you and your mam?

Ciara’s expression immediately turned sour. “I guess she’s mad with me for dropping out of college. She wants me to get a nice little job in a hairdresser’s, or an office, or something.”

You dropped out? Why?

“Because I never really wanted to be an accountant. I just did it to please my parents, but I hated it. It was so boring and respectable.”

So what do you want to do?

Ciara sighed. “Oh, I don’t know. Go off travelling, have an adventure, climb some mountains, anything which gets me away from small town Ireland.”

Conor understood that well enough. He, too, felt like he had never truly belonged.

Suddenly, Ciara sprang out of her chair. “Shall we go for a walk?” she asked brightly. “I can show you around, if you like.”

******

Want to know more? Here’s the trailer…

Don’t forget Day Three of the Conor Kelly and The Fenian King Mini Blog Tour stops on Thursday 10th July at Karen’s blog My Train of Thoughts on…

 

Conor Kelly and The Fenian King | Mini Blog Tour

Click the image to read the book description
Click the image to read the book description

I’ve never done a blog tour before. I very nearly didn’t do this one either! As you no doubt know by now, my poor laptop, FoxyRoxy, developed a dodgy hard drive just after I published my new book, Conor Kelly and The Fenian King to Smashwords. All my grand ideas of fancy blog tours, promotional activity and marketing, quickly crashed down around me, as FoxyRoxy suffered complications, and I realised she wasn’t coming home in a hurry.

Well, she’s back now, and raring to go! She’s not quite the creature she was; her memory is somewhat shorter, and many of her programs have needed re-installing. It’s taken most of the day to try to recover Office… Microsoft won’t recognise my key, for some reason, but that’s all by the by.

The main thing is that me and my lovely, shiny red companion are back together again. Not only that, but my wonderful blogger- friends have rallied round to support me in running a mini blog tour. Thanks, guys! I really appreciate it.

So without further ado, here is how my mini blog tour pans out:

Tuesday 8th July –  Jane Dougherty Writes
… about fantastical places and other stuff. She does, friends, she really does!
The Dark Citadel is on my reading list. Jane asked me a few questions, so please drop by tomorrow and see what I had to say.
 
Wednesday 9th July –  Aliisaacstoryteller
Chapter Reveal. Please stop by and see how my new book opens.
 
Thursday 10th July – My Train of Thoughts On…
Karen has already invited me on her website to take part in her  regular famous 10 Statements feature. She very kindly agreed to have me back. If you have a question you’d like me to answer, please add it to the comments section of this post, and I will include it in Thursday’s post.
 
Friday 11th July – My Train of Thoughts on…
One of the regular features I look forward to on Karen’s blog, is her  Three Quotes feature. She once specifically chose three quotes to inspire courage in me when she knew I was nervous about speaking on a radio show… I’ll never forget that.
This time, she features three quotes from characters from my new book. I can’t promise they’ll be as inspiring, but please pop by Karen’s blog and find out for yourself.
 
Saturday 12th July –  CL Deards | Living in Alternate Realities
Chris has always been very supportive of my self publishing journey. He is himself working on writing his first novel right now, and has amazed me with the depth of detail he has gone into in creating his fantasy world. I can’t wait till he hits that publish button! Please drop by his blog on Saturday to check out my chapter reveal, and find out more about his book.
 
Sunday 13th July – Aliisaacstoryteller
I was tagged by Sally of Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life a couple of weeks ago to write a Meet the Main Character post. Of course, that was the day that Foxy got sick, and so I wasn’t able to participate. Better late than never, I hope! Thanks, Sally!
 
Monday 14th July –  Chris the Story Reading Ape’s Blog,  an Author Promotions Enterprise!
Book Promotion.
Well, where else would you expect me to be on the launch day of my new book?!!!
Please drop by the furry guy’s blog and see what’s going on.
 

So that’s what’s happening this week. Please, please, PLEASE join me and my best blogger pals over the next few days and join in the fun.

Click the image to subscribe to my mailing list
Click the image to subscribe to my mailing list

Conor Kelly and The Fenian King is Finally Published!

TFK-medWell, I thought it was never going to happen… YOU thought it was never going to happen, but guess what folks? It HAS happened! I’ve gone and done it. I finally published my second book, Conor Kelly and The Fenian King! Woohoo!

Yes, I’ve had one glass of wine too many tonight, but why not? I am now a serial author! I deserve a bit of a celebration! And all these exclamation marks should be a bit of a give-away as to how excited I am. When else can we sprinkle these naughty little monsters so liberally throughout our writing and get away with it?

Conor Kelly and The Fenian King will be available to pre-order within the week on Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes and Noble. and Apple… watch this space!

And just to give you a little taster of what to expect, here is the trailer. Thanks for all your support! Ali xxx

 

Author Ali Isaac – My Writing Process

The love of my life, affectionately known as FoxyRoxy
The love of my life, affectionately known as FoxyRoxy

Thank you to Karen at My Train of Thoughts for inviting me to join ‘My Writing Process’. Karen is a wonderful writer, book reviewer, Indie author supporter, and self-confessed book addict. She also publishes some great short stories and flash fiction at ‘In a Small Compass‘, so why not pop over there and take a look?

What am I working on?

I am just putting the finishing touches to the second book of my Tir na Nog Trilogy, Conor Kelly and The Fenian King.

In the first book, Conor Kelly and The Four Treasures of Eirean, Conor discovered he was descended from the Tuatha de Denann, an ancient race of semi-divine beings who once ruled Ireland over 4000 years ago. With this knowledge he inherited great powers, which came as a bit of a surprise, as in the mortal world, Conor suffers from a rare illness which means he can’t walk or talk… hardly your average hero! Nevertheless, he finds himself on a quest to recover the lost Four Treasures of Eirean, accompanied by the enigmatic Sidhe-Princess, Annalee.

Second time around, and it’s all kicked off in Tir na Nog! For the first time in history, the Sidhe are at war amongst themselves, whilst beset with natural disaster. Awakening the fabled Fenian King will be their only hope of salvation, and guess who gets lumbered with the task? Along the way, Conor unearths an unpleasant secret about himself which threatens disaster…

Besides working on my books, you will find me writing for my blog. I post articles mainly on content I’ve unearthed during my research about Ireland’s distant past. I also write about my special little daughter, Carys, who was born with a rare syndrome called Cardiofaciocutaneous Syndrome. Look under ‘Life with a Special Needs Child‘, if you’re interested.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

There are quite simply very few novels out there based on Irish Mythology. Not only that, but my books take into account the daily lives of the early peoples of Ireland, and so much of what takes place is based on archaeological and historical fact. I link all these characters to the archaeological sites where they lived, and take you there, as they exist in the present. In fact, you could make a tour of Ireland based on the sites visited in my books! I find it quite difficult to accurately define my genre; I have to settle for Contemporary Fantasy, as book retailers give authors little choice, but its also mythology, history, archaeology, fairy-tale and magic.

In addition, Conor is the ultimate flawed hero; not only does he have his personal demons and insecurities to face, but he has the obstacles provided by his disabilities to get over, too. Without preaching, I hope I have shown that anyone can be a hero, not just the perfect, and the able-bodied.

My first book-baby...yaaaaay!
My first book-baby…yaaaaay!
Book-baby 2... due in a matter of weeks!
Book-baby 2… due in a matter of weeks!

Why do I write what I do?

I love Ireland! And I love archaeology, history, mythology. I’m fascinated by the legends of the Tuatha de Denann, and Fionn mac Cumhall and the Fianna. And I was inspired by my daughter to create a hero unlike any other I have encountered. What else would I write?

How does my writing process work?

Well…I am the most disorganised, illogical person you could ever hope to meet, so ‘process’ might be too kind a word, lol! I sit at my shiny red desk, and tap away at my shiny red laptop, start at the beginning, and keep on going till I arrive at the end. That’s basically it! Are you disappointed? I know some people work in Scrivenor and such like, creating complex story arcs and files for this that and the other, writing scene by scene, following a complicated flow chart annotating what happened when to whom and how, with accompanying files on character development, plot and world-building.

Not me. I want to have fun! And writing is fun, and escapism for me. I write manual notes for my research, which I keep by my side as I’m writing. I also have a VERY BASIC outline on one side of an A4 sheet clipped to the top of it, as a guide…this changes all the time. I edit as I go along, always reviewing  the previous days writing before starting a new chapter, which gets me into the right frame of mind. At the end, I have a couple of big edits, then my beta readers make me do it all again. And that’s it, ready to format as each retailer requires.

You can find Conor Kelly and The Four Treasures of Eirean at just about any retailer, but here are the links for Amazon and Smashwords. Conor Kelly and The Fenian King is due out very VERY soon…I promise! In the meantime, you can view the trailers for both books in the sidebar of this website.

And now I would like to introduce you to some new writing talent…

The Sound of What Happens‘ – Éilis found me by quite by accident when trawling the web one night. We were drawn together by our mutual love of all things Denann and Fianna. In her poetry, Éilis creates tiny snatches of intense, vividly detailed imagery within broader all-encompassing themes, which I find quite compelling. I’d love to give you examples, but I won’t withhold the pleasure of discovering her work for yourself, when you hop over to her blog to take a look.

CL Deards | Living in Alternate Realities‘ – When I read the very first line of Chris’s ‘About’ page, I just KNEW I was going to like him. Here was someone who just came right out and said exactly how I had felt all my life! He has gone to extraordinary lengths in visualising and then creating the world-building which underpins his novel, The Tome of Worlds, something I can only stand back and observe with awe and wonder, as I never had to do this; it was already waiting for me in mythology. You will get a really good sense of what goes on in Chris’s head by visiting his Pinterest pages.

Both of these writers have been particularly supportive of me…thanks, guys! Make sure not to miss their Writing Process posts next weekend!

 

Meet The Author Behind The Tir na Nog Trilogy

myauthorpicInterview with Ali Isaac

What motivated you to become an indie author?
 Quite simply, I wanted people to read my book! Like many authors, I had started down the traditional route, sending out my manuscript to agents and publishers, but had no luck. Then I read an article about Amanda Hocking, which got me interested in the idea of self publishing. It’s been a long hard journey, and a massive learning curve, I’ve achieved things I never imagined I would, and enjoyed every minute of it. 
              
 What is the greatest joy of writing for you?               
 Ooooh…this is a difficult one! Writing brings me joy on many different levels. I enjoy being able to express myself eloquently enough that people want to read what I write, and actually enjoy it. I enjoy the process of creation. I love receiving feedback, particularly if it is in the form of a positive review, hint hint! (only joking!) And I really enjoy connecting with my readers, either on my Facebook page, or via email.  
             
 What are you working on next?               
  I am currently working on Book Two of my Tir na Nog Trilogy. It’s called Conor Kelly and The Fenian King. I’m about halfway through, just now. It has taken a lot longer than I had anticipated, because my daughter was quite ill at the beginning of the year, so I was quite distracted. I think I’m making up for it now, though! I plan to publish in time for Christmas.  
             
Who are your favourite authors?               
 Oh no! Another difficult question! There are so many good authors out there, whose writing I enjoy for many different reasons. I read a lot of fantasy, and you can’t beat the classics, David Eddings, Tolkien, CS Lewis, and newer writers, such as JK Rowling, Rick Riordan, George RR Martin.
I have always loved Rosemary Sutcliffe for bringing mythology to life for me, likewise Susan Cooper and Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Who else? You might not think it, but I have always loved the classics from as far back as my GCE English Lit, (a loooong time ago!). I’m thinking Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy.
Finally, being an Indie author myself, I find that I am really getting into the writing of other Indie authors; they bring something new and exciting to the mix, I think. Check out Jay Howard, Allie Creswell and KA Krisko, and you’ll see what I mean!   
            
mists of avalon What inspires you to get out of bed each day?               
 Actually, I’m rubbish at getting out of bed in the morning! I’m really not a morning person. My family have learned not to say much to me before I have my first coffee of the day! Once my husband has gone off to work and the children have left for school, the house is lovely and peaceful. That is my favourite time to start writing, but I usually have to take my dog, Indi(ana Bones) for his morning walk in the woods, and I love that too, whatever the weather; it’s my thinking time. Many a writer’s block has been dislodged during that morning walk!    
           
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?               
When I’m not writing, I’m researching, either on-line or visiting a location for my book. If I’m not doing that, I’m checking out keywords, writing a blog or Facebook post, or proof reading for a fellow Indie author. Sandwiched in between, I spend time with my family, exercise, socialize, and read…a lot…usually at night, when I go to bed. I’m much too busy in the day time. 
              
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?               
 I don’t know if it was the first story I ever wrote, but I do remember writing a story about a puppy following the butcher’s delivery boy on his bike because he smelled so nicely of sausages, and then getting lost. I think I must have been about seven. It got a gold star. but I think I probably ‘borrowed’ the idea from somewhere, because I’ve never known a butcher to deliver goods by bike!
But just to show off a bit, in senior school, I won the school prize for English Language and Literature every year for the whole five years I was there.   
            
What is your writing process?               
Oh, I’m a bit haphazard, I must confess! I always start out with good intentions of being well organised, and have my synopsis and characters written out beside me. but as the book progresses, the story and characters tend to take on a life of their own, and the story plan just goes out the window!
I have a lovely shiny red desk at which I write, and my laptop is called FoxyRoxy, she’s glossy and red too. At the moment, my desk is littered with scraps of paper covered in scrawl from my research, and notes and reminders that have occurred to me when I have been away from my laptop.  It’s organised chaos…well, just chaos, actually!
               
tristan and iseultDo you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?               
There are three books I read, all before the age of ten, all of which have stayed with me. Firstly, ‘Tristan and Iseult’ by Rosemary Sutcliffe, an Arthurian story based in Ireland; I have always been a little in love with King Arthur, and Sutcliffe just put a different spin on it with this beautifully written version of what is just a chapter in the Arthurian mythology. I loved the gorgeous illustrations by Victor Ambrus, too; if only I could persuade him to illustrate my books, I’d be a very happy author! Next, ‘Watership Down’ by Richard Adams just blew me away. I read it so many times, my copy fell apart! And finally, Preussler’s ‘The Little Water Sprite’ is just a lovely little story which really captured my childish imagination, and also had cute illustrations. When I was fourteen, I wrote a poem called ‘By the Mill’ in tribute to it.
I can actually remember when I first realised I could read. I was aged about four, and was looking at a comic of the Disney version of Robin Hood, and suddenly the letters all seemed to just ‘swim’ together in a way that made sense. I was amazed!  
             
What is your e-reading device of choice?               
I hate to say this, but I actually don’t own a Kindle! I read all my books via the Kindle app on my Samsung Galaxy 4…it works perfectly for me! I love reading books on my phone; I love that I can finish reading one and instantly go on-line and download the next book in the series. And it’s so much easier to manage when you read in bed at night than a big, heavy clumsy book with, you know, actual pages that you have to turn, and stuff!
Having said that, there’s nothing quite like, the look, feel and smell of holding an actual book in your hands for a fully immersive reading experience. Book shelves can look rather bare when all your books are owned digitally. If I really love a book, I like to own an actual physical copy, too.  
             
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?               
 When I was four, my parents sold their house and bought a Landrover, and we drove from the UK to Kuwait. We stopped there because the Landrover conked out big time, and lived on a farm in the desert for a while. Then my dad got a job as a diver with an oil company, and we ended up staying seven years. Then, on the strength of a three day visit, my parents decided we would move to Cyprus to live. Yeah, I think it is fair to say that my parents were a little on the impulsive side!
Anyhow, I think I inherited a bit of their impulsive, adventurous spirit which has had an impact on my life, and my writing. I became interested in ancient history and mythology while living in Cyprus, and toured endless archaeological sites with my dad. Living in a Muslim country was quite restrictive for western women and girls, so I read a lot and so fired up my active imagination.    
           
What’s the story behind your latest book?       

Fionn In Conor Kelly and The Four Treasures of Eirean, Conor discovers he is descended from an ancient God-like race of people from Ireland, known as the Tuatha de Denann. He becomes involved in a quest to find their lost talismans of power, the mythological Four Treasures of Eirean.
Conor is not your average hero. For a start, he can’t walk or talk, and lives life in a wheelchair.
My latest book is called Conor Kelly and The Fenian King. It’s a year later, and Conor is called upon by the Sidhe to help them yet again. Despite the return of the Four Treasures, there is political unrest, war and murder in the magical realm. There is a legend of a man who sleeps in a cave beneath a hill, awaiting the call which will wake him in order to come to the aid of his people. This man is known as Fionn mac Cumhall, and Conor is tasked with finding him.
Although my stories are fantasies based on Irish mythology, they also contain current themes. I was inspired to write them by my daughter, who has a rare syndrome. She can’t walk, talk or communicate, yet I’m sure she can understand more than she can indicate to us. I wanted an unusual hero, a flawed, imperfect character whom others would overlook and underestimate, and Conor gives me the opportunity to explore what it is like to be disabled in our modern world, in a subtle way without lecturing, I hope.
There is also the underlying question of Conor’s identity. All is not as it seems…I can say no more!

You can find out more at Smashwords.

The Big Reveal: The Cover Art for our Wateraid Anthology

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Available this Monday 1st July from Smashwords. Don’t forget to go to Just Giving to make your donation to Wateraid. Thank you.