Resonance Chapter Two: The American Chap

I thought I’d read a chapter or two of Resonance for anyone who fancies an audiobook in these strange times:

Chapter Two: The American Chap

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Resonance, Chapter One: The Fading God

I thought I’d read a chapter or two of Resonance for anyone who fancies an audiobook in these strange times:

Chapter One: The Fading God

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A Little Promise Witch Wren

So the first of the Promise Witch drawings are complete. @bridportbooks little Wren is on her way ❤ (Fenifur’s tardigrade and Tudor’s fox will follow asap )

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This got me right in the heart ❤

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Long Journey Back to the Start

The following is an essay I wrote back in 2018, for CBI’s wonderful Bold Girls project. (You can find a related essay here)

….

The main thing that occurs to me, is how much I could have done with something similar to the Bold Girls project when I was a child. Well, not quite a child – as a child I was actually quite well catered for. I can recall quite a lot of ‘bold girls’ in the stories I read back then. There were brave, competent, interesting rabbits, teddy-bears, dolls and toys in the books and comics that I read as a toddler. There were brave, competent, interesting girls in the books and comics I read as a young girl.

But after a certain age, the girl characters that I found most interesting (IE – those who were not connected to romance story-lines; those who got to have physical, adventurous lives; those who had some modicum of independence) were almost always connected with British boarding schools. No matter how hard I wanted to, this working class Dub could never quite connect with that particular setting. I tried – lord knows I tried – but they weren’t for me. Then I got older and even those scraps dried up as the ‘girl’ stories I found myself presented with began to revolve almost exclusively around romantic relationships.

I’ve nothing against romance but I wasn’t interested in those kinds of stories.

I was a girl who wanted to read about ghosts, about spaceships, about monsters and other dimensions. Once I’d left Enid Blyton, and the Twinkle and the Judy behind, I found nothing to cater to my tastes except comics and books that were populated almost exclusively by male characters.

For a brief glorious few years in my pre and early teens there was a comic called The Misty and I got my first and practically only glimpse of girls and young women inhabiting the kind of stories that I grew up thirsting for. Stories where that main character got to go on the type of adventures I wanted to go on. Most specifically stories in which the MC (a girl!) had to Fight Monsters! Overcoming Supernatural Threats! Fly Spaceships! For a brief, glorious moment I got to enjoy that thing which boys take for granted every time they pick up a story – a protagonist having a cracking adventure in which their struggles had nothing to do with their gender.

Then the Misty went under and I was left bereft.

I wish I’d had the Bold Girls project back then to pick me up and point me in the right direction, because if these stories existed elsewhere I certainly didn’t know where to find them. And worse, I never really noticed that these stories had been stolen from me. No-one explained to me that girls had been removed from my interior landscape. No-one pointed out that my heroines had been erased and that a boy had been put in their place. And so, I just took it for granted that girls didn’t existed in the kinds of stories I loved to read – that they had no place in those kinds of stories.

So what happened for me was that, at a very early age, I soaked up the idea that these kinds of adventures were simply a thing that boys did. I soaked that up and I went on reading the kinds of stories I loved, but this time with no girls (or none to speak of; occasionally someone would need rescuing, or explaining to, or falling in love with. Girls seemed to fit quite nicely into those roles – ie the bits of the story I wasn’t interested in. The bits I’d usually skip)

I stopped looking for girls in my stories at all. In fact, I actively avoided stories with girls in them. Why? Because they weren’t the stories I was looking for, of course!

When I read, I read about boys. As a consequence, when I started writing, I wrote about boys.

Why? Because boys did the things I was interested in, of course! That’s just how the world was! If there was a girl in the story, she’d have to spend the whole time justifying why she deserved to be there! Hah. Imagine wasting all that time explaining how you’d managed to go to space-ship school while also being a girl! Imagine wasting all the time constructing some excuse as to how a girl happened to end up also being a cowboy. Or how a character managed to become an exorcist while also being a girl. Boy stories were interesting. Girl stories were boring. That’s just the way it was.

God.

The time I wasted having to undo all this stuff in my own head, just to get to the point where I could write a female character into the type of story I wanted to read. I’m still struggling with it, because the world is still struggling with it. Despite all the very many progresses we have made, women are still having to justify taking up space in stories that don’t specifically orbit around their ‘femaleness’ or their struggle to prove themselves ‘as good as’.

But what would have helped, what would have got me there sooner, was something like Bold Girls. A bright, honest, positive voice in my ear which would have told young me ‘you know there are women scientists, right? Just because the comics and books don’t show them to you, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.’ Or, ‘you know there are and always have been women who fight to protect victims of injustice, right?’ Or ‘you know a woman character can be the centre of her own story, right? And that story can be anything – right? – anything at all. Just like for boys.’

Maybe then I wouldn’t have had to travel so far just to get to the starting place. The place where I understand that every story can have a woman at its heart, and that the horizons of a girl’s possibilities are limited only by her own imagination.

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Reading from The Promise Witch

The Promise Witch is out in June, can you believe it?

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Promise Witch bookplate

Oh look, a bookplate for The Promise Witch! If anyone received a review copy and would like a signed bookplate to go inside, just let me know ❤

Many thanks to Jess Courtney Tickle for the beautiful illustrations from which this is assembled.

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1984 vrs The Poison Throne

Last week, year twelve student, Millicent Duncan, emailed to say she had written an essay comparing the human experiences in The Poison Throne and George Orwell’s classic dystopia, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

I am, of course, thrilled to have Moorehawke examined in such a thoughtful, in-depth manner and in such a context. Thank you, Millicent, for agreeing to share your essay here, and best wishes for your future.

See next page for Millicent’s essay:

Posted in Allen and unwin, Elise Hurst, Hyene, Kate Rudd, Moorehawke, O'Brien Press, Orbit, writing | Leave a comment

Scarlett and a World of Magic by Phoebe Walsh

I feel so bad at how long it’s taken me to post this wonderful short story. It was sent to me by a marvelous young writer in Australia. I was lucky enough to meet Phoebe at the Scribblers Festival in Perth earlier this year. She attended one of my workshops, and later sent me her writing. I hope you enjoy this atmospheric, magical story as much as I have:

Scarlett and a world of magic. By Phoebe Walsh.

Walking through the silent forest, I breathed in the scent of pine trees and sighed. I had walked through this route at least a thousand times, but I still loved it. The warm, Autumn wind lifted up my long hair and swept up the copper-coloured leaves resting on the natural path. The leaves soared and dipped in the air, turning and dancing on the dirt. The fresh, minty perfume of pine and the sweet fragrance of forest flowers wafted through the air. Rainbow lorikeets darted in the sky, and I watched their interesting and beautiful aerobics. Then I cringed, because the noise they made was not beautiful. I’m not sure what made me decide to go further into the forest that day, but anyway, as I reached the grassy clearing, where I normally read or sketched the lorikeets, I sat down. I was about to grab my book when I thought I saw something shine in the distance. I stood up for a better look. Yes, there it was again. Walking forward, I decided to travel a bit further into the forest. It could just be a chocolate wrapper or something, but I decided to investigate. As I got nearer, I thought I could see it moving. I squinted, and realised it was bigger than I had anticipated. As I drew up right next to it realised it was actually a pond! The surface rippled and glimmered while glistening goldfish darted below. I was about to turn back when I saw another object shine, except this one was different. It was in the pond, and looked like it was made of gold! I was intrigued. (You may have noticed by now I am quite curious.) I took off my faded, cobalt-blue sneakers and white socks and waded into the pond. It wasn’t very cold, and in the middle of the pond it was only knee-deep. Picking it up, I examined it, and noticed it was covered in mud and little pieces of rock. I splashed back to the shore and sat down. I began to wipe away the mud. It wasn’t that big, only the size of a fingernail. I realised it had a hole in the middle. I thought, what was it, some kind of metal donut? I uncovered more and more sections of gold. Perhaps it’s made of gold! I wiped away the last piece of rock, and then rinsed it in the pond. I gasped, shocked. It was a gold ring! It had rubies, emeralds, sapphires and amethysts studded all way round. It looked like something a queen would wear! An idea popped into my head. I tried it on, just for fun. It slipped on easily, like it had been made for my finger. ‘Get out of my way, I’m an important person. Off with your head!’ I giggled. Suddenly, the weirdest sensation began to creep over me. I was dizzy, and felt sweaty and cold, even though the sun was shining down on my back. My teeth began to chatter. I looked down, and screamed. I was at least 100 metres of the ground! No wonder I was cold! It was freezing! I started to hyperventilate. “What am I going to do!?”I wailed desperately, to no-one in particular. “ I’m going to keep floating off the ground until there’s no oxygen and I can’t breath!” Suddenly, I realised something. I had started floating off the ground when I put the ring on. Was it a coincidence? “Don’t be silly.”I told myself. “That sounds like a fairy tale! There’s no way the ring is enchanted!” But as I rose higher and higher, I began to doubt myself. “Well, it could be possible, couldn’t it? You know what, this may be crazy, but I’ll try taking the ring off. It can’t hurt trying, can it?” I slowly slid the ring off my finger. Suddenly, I started to sink through the air. Fast, but not scarily fast. I landed on the ground, and dropped the ring like it was fire. I stared at it from a distance away. I pondered what had just happened. The ring was obviously enchanted. It must belong to a magician! Not those trick magicians who use illusions, a real magician with real magic. As I contemplated this, I heard a man’s voice. “Do not be afraid.” I spun around, and the ring suddenly appeared in my palm. I was so shocked I didn’t move. “ The ring has chosen you. Each time you put it on, it will give you the powers you need for your problem. With years of practice, you will be able to change it into items you need, such as weapons or shelter. Tell only people you trust about your eternal powers. Be careful.” The voice disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. I decided to test this knowledge. I slipped the ring onto my finger again. It glowed. Suddenly, I felt energy rush up behind my eyes. I stared at the ground in front of me, and suddenly two lasers shot out of my eyes and hit the grass. Afterwards, there was a scorch mark. I gaped at it. I had eye- lasers! I kind of half-expected this, but it was incredible, amazing, fantastic!

From that day on, I used my new power for good. I told my parents and my best friend, Ashley. She said, “Omigosh that is awesome!!” My parents didn’t believe me at first, but once I showed them they understood. I stopped bank robberies, solved theft, foiled an evil plan and today I
even stopped a meteor that was about to hit Earth! It was cool. I just slipped on the ring, it gave me the powers of flight and super-strength, I flew up to it, and threw it back into space. I’m kind of like Batman or someone now. I wear my purple hoodie so no-one sees my face. People call me, or rather, the superhero me, the ‘SuperSpark’. Probably because when I slip on the ring, I sort of glow in a white light. Well, it’s not the most amazing superhero name in the world, but hey. It’s pretty cool.

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Free Audiobook: The Last Visible Cat

A little ghost story for your Halloween commute

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