Please welcome this weeks guest,
Thank you Richard, for giving me this opportunity to publicise my books and my love of an area I go back to whenever the opportunity allows; the West Country, mainly Somerset and Dorset. Having grown up in Sherborne in Dorset and later, living near Glastonbury reignited my fascination with the Mendip Hills. The network of limestone caves is a perfect setting for some powerful fantasy scenes.
Having read showcases by friends, Helen Hollick and Angela Rigley, I agree marketing is the main problem. However, as I understand it, and here perhaps I should say – allegedly – mainstream publishing rarely puts as much effort into marketing new authors as in previous times, preferring to concentrate on better known authors who have an established fan base.
Following our escape from an abusive marriage, my children and I spent time in women’s refuges while trying to establish a new life. Later, having successfully moved on and studying for an HND in Business Administration, a lecturer suggested I write my story as something positive for others in similar situations and thought it might be cathartic. I tried, and it wasn’t. It felt as though my emotional scars were being torn open. However, although I was never able to write the full story, I have written three short stories relating to episodes during that time: ‘Sanctuary’ and two one-hour real-time incidents.
Encouragement to write from my lecturer and my second husband, David, gave me the confidence to try and surprisingly, after years of office work and raising a family, I found my imagination still worked. I wrote, ‘Silver Linings’ a Christmas fantasy adventure of a world populated by human and fantasy characters that sparked into flame and continued in a series of four now published books, with a prequel explaining how various events in these books occurred, and a spin-off led by two of the newer characters currently in the pipe-line.
With publishing, I chose to take the independent route rather than approach mainstream as I wanted my book, my way. I have control over what I want to write. It’s important to me that my characters are allowed to play the part they were meant to in the plot I have devised.
So, let me introduce you to my books, beginning with the volumes of ‘The Winterne Series’.
I began writing ‘Silver Linings’ the first volume of ‘The Winterne Series’ in 2005 and published it in 2006. It received very favourable reviews in the local press and on retail sites e.g. Amazon. The Winterne Series tells the story of Sam, uprooted from home and left with relatives he barely knows. One turns out to be a character from childhood legend and Sam has to deal with bullying, criminals and finds himself in a world he would never have believed existed.
Extract: Silver Linings
Sam knew time was running out. Jonah appeared to be closing on him and he had to think quickly. There would be a confrontation, there was no way to avoid that, but he needed an advantage. On and on he went along the seemingly endless tunnel that turned and twisted, climbed and descended, slipping a couple of times where the ground was wet.
Eventually, after what seemed like hours, the tunnel descended again and widened. Sam listened for sounds behind him. Jonah was still there, breathing hard and grumbling, the sound of his voice carried along the tunnel. That’ll teach him to get out of PE so often!
Wondering how much further he would have to go, Sam moved on and followed the tunnel as it wound round to the left, in the distance an eerie green light glowed. At first he thought he had come across another of the elves’ caves but soon he found himself gazing around a vast cavern with a huge crystal-clear lake. The green tinged glow seemed to radiate from algae that fringed the rocks circling the water.
Sam also recalled Charlie explaining that a number of the caverns had their own natural light that radiated from an algae existing in the water and on nearby rocks. It was not bright enough to read by, but it would certainly allow a person to find their way about.
He was on a ledge approximately a metre above the water and about three metres wide that seemed to border the entire lake. The base of the ledge was crowded with stalagmites that rose up in columns of various sizes to meet the stalactites above them. Some met in the middle as the limestone enriched water trickled down from the ceiling. Many of these columns were as much as a metre wide; massive limestone pillars with fluid ribbons of brown, yellow, cream and white.
At the far end of the cavern, more tunnels honeycombed out in different directions and he wondered which way he should go. Which of those would be a way out? Placing his feet carefully along the slippery ledge, he edged his way toward the tunnels but a gasp behind him made him turn. Jonah had arrived.
Reviews for Silver Linings:
‘An intriguing read. This book would work well on the big screen.’ Alan Clifford – BBC Radio
‘An imaginative adventure with a dark streak.’ Jeremy Lewis, Nottingham Post
‘Trilogy’s stirring start. A cleverly written fantasy yarn.’ Dawn Bond, Newark Advertiser
The book unfolds beautifully, with well-rounded characters and kept my daughter and I enchanted throughout. I’m just looking forward to the sequels!!! Amazon Reader
I bought this book as an impulse buy. I had no idea what it was about. Upon starting the book, I realised it was a young adult book – but enjoyed it immensely. Not quite in the Philip Pullman league – YET! But as a first book by Jae Malone, it offers amazing potential. The book unfolds beautifully, with well-rounded characters and kept my daughter and I enchanted throughout. It’s difficult to say anymore without giving too much away. I’m just looking forward to the sequels!!! Amazon Reader
I bought this book a while back for my daughter but ended up reading it myself and bought the next three books in the series. It’s a lovely book to read and I can’t wait to read it again, this time with my daughter. Amazon Reader
In 2006, ‘Queen of Diamonds’ continued the story. This was a lovely book to write and my characters almost seem to write the story themselves. I was quite sorry to get to the end.
Extract: Queen of Diamonds
“Jake, it’s good of you to call,” Harriet began.
“Well, I never ‘ad much choice did I?”
Harriet ignored that.
“Jake, I need to pick your brains. You knew Jerry a long time didn’t you?”
“Yeah, all in all abaht firty years. What’s all this abaht Mrs Atkins. The Guv’nor said yer lookin’ fer a lost relative or somefink.”
“Um, well I’m afraid I didn’t quite tell the truth there, Jake. You see, I’ve had a couple of visits from someone who says he’s an old colleague of Jerry’s. His name’s Maurice Fisher. Have you ever heard of him?”
“You bin lyin’ to the Guv’nor? You’ll get me shot if ‘e finds out this ain’t on the level.” Harriet heard a loud gratingnoise in the background, and, for a moment, Jakestopped talking. The noise stopped and he continued with what he was saying. “I’ll have me privileges took away.”
“I’ll take full responsibility. I don’t want to get you into trouble, Jake, but I really need your help. I think Fisher’s up to something, but not knowing much about Jerry’s past, you’re my only hope. I’ll sort things out with Chris…I mean the Governor, if there’s any trouble.”
“You’d better be as good as your word, lady.”
“Don’t worry, Jake. I just need some information from you.”
“Maurice Fisher you say. Sorry, but that name don’t mean much to me. I knew most of the types Mr Atkins mixed with, right back to the Ginger Osgood days, but the name Fisher don’t ring no bells. What’s ’e look like?”
“Well…he’s quite tall with greying dark hair. He’s been here a couple of times…wears pin striped suits and very cheap aftershave, I might add.”
“Well, that’s not really enough to go on. Anythin’ else?”
“He drives a BMW, if that’s any help…and he has a very smooth…easy to listen to voice.”
“Yeah, well, don’t make things easy will yer, Mrs Atkins?”
“I’m sorry Jake. I don’t…Oh yes, he mentioned something about investments he’d made with Jerry. All sorts of investments…and diamonds, South African diamonds.”
“Diamonds! Well why didn’t you say so. There was only one bloke around like that when Mr Atkins started lookin into buyin’ diamonds, but ‘is name weren’t Maurice Fisher. It was…wait a minute. It’ll come ter me. Just can’t think of it.”
“So you think you know him? You remember him?”
“Gimme a minute. It’s on the tip of me tongue.” Harriet heard a deep voice mumbling quite close to the telephone. “No! Yer can flamin’ well wait till I’m done.” Jake yelled to someone unseen. “Take yer turn like everyone else.”
“I beg your pardon!”
“No, not you Mrs Atkins. Just telling’ this lot ‘ere. There’s a queue fer the phone, but I ‘ad ter wait, so they can too.”
“Do you want time to think about it and call me back later Jake?”
“No, no it’s…Farrow, that’s right. Now what was ‘is first name? I think that began with an M an’ all. Farrow…Farrow. Got it! Malcolm Farrow. Nasty piece of work ‘e was. Bit of a bully-boy too, ‘e was as I remember. It was ‘im used ter fake surveys on the ‘ouses what Mr Atkins wanted ter sell. But ‘e got greedy an’ Mr Atkins didn’t want ’im aroun’ no more, so ’e closed up the business, gave Farrow ‘alf of it and they parted company.”
“A nasty piece of work Jake?”
“Yeah. Farrow’d sell ‘is own granny for a fiver in them days an’ I can’t imagine ‘e’s improved any since. If you’ve got dealin’s wiv ‘im, then watch out fer yerself Mrs Atkins. Get shot of ‘im, sharpish.”
“How much longer have you got to serve Jake?”
“Um…yeah, well…wiv good behaviour, I could be aht in abaht eighteen monfs. Why?”
“Well, behave yourself and come and see me when you get out. You never know, I might be able to help you out with a job or something. I owe you a favour. Write to me when your release is near.”
“Well, fanks Mrs Atkins, I’ll do that. I don’t never intend to find meself back in this sorta gaff again. I’ve ‘ad enough; I’m gettin’ too old.”
Reviews: Queen of Diamonds
Jae gets better with every book she writes and could easily give J K Rowling a good run for her money.’ Newark Advertiser
‘A loving and wholesome read.’ Jeremy Lewis, Nottingham Post
‘Jae Malone’s imagination is on the same wavelength as legendary J R R Tolkien. She writes with vividness, intensity and sophistication.’ Amazon Reader
Aimed at young adults, sadly I am no longer in this age category, however I love these books. This is the third book in the Winterne series following Sam and friends. If you like fantasy with a heart-warming storyline get into these books. I cannot recommend highly enough! Amazon Reader
This set of books is amazing! Jae Malone you have done a fantastic job at creating a book for adults and children alike, I won’t give any spoilers but these books are a must read and I would like to see this in the cinemas so I can finally do what these characters finally look like! Amazon Reader
‘Fool’s Gold’ arrived the following year.
Extract: Fool’s Gold
Away from the shelter of the alley walls, the storm unleashed its rage as the rain hit her full on. Sheet lightning followed forked lightning with little let up in the crashing thunder aftermath. Night-time on the streets of Alvarez City could be dangerous but a storm of this force would keep most people at home. In this vicinity only the rats and the criminal fraternity ventured out at night; the good and godly preferred to ignore its existence. Lightning split the sky again followed by another roll of thunder.
She opened her mouth to drink in the rain as a car passed by sending a crescent of muddy water across the crumbling pavement. The driver had not noticed her as he drove by and the tail-lights faded as the car quickly disappeared into the distance. Under a weak street-lamp she tried to check her watch, but another lightning bolt gave her all the light she needed. She held her hand over the watch to keep off the rain. Her destination was still fifteen minutes away on foot. Lightning flashed and she laughed. Even the rats hid on nights such as this. The wind blew her hood back but instead of gripping it tighter to her head, she cackled again as her dark shoulder-length hair clung to her head in sopping clumps, but she was unconcerned by the downpour. Being alone at night in one of the worst storms she had ever experienced should have been terrifying, but all she felt was exhilaration. With her head held high against the teeming rain and torrents gushing from the roofs and gutters above, she strode through the puddles without a care. None of this was important; soaked clothes and wet hair were of little consequence.
A narrow alleyway opened up on her left. She entered the dark, deserted high walled corridor between tenement buildings without hesitation and soon her eyes became accustomed to the inky blackness. In this narrow place, there were no street-lights at all, only the reflected light from a few of the apartments above. She stayed close to the wall avoiding the rush of displaced water overflowing from the swamped drains that could no longer cope with the deluge that raced down the central gully and striding through the torrent, she kept up a steady pace, excited and eager to get her business over and done with.
Sheet lightning tore the sky, the first flash followed by another and another, the tall white buildings revealed in stark ghostly contrast to the red-black sky. Thunder roared, rolling on and on answering the lightning. The storm was magnificent, charged with electricity; she thrilled at its glorious force.
The narrow alleyway snaked between ramshackle tenements where few lights burned. Within, grown men were hiding under beds praying to whichever deity they worshipped, for the storm to pass them by. Contemptuous of their superstitions she chuckled at the absurd image. The storm was her ally.
The maze of interconnecting alleyways criss-crossed the district of El Lugar de Tres Perros (The Place of Three Dogs) and, in this sector of the city a person walked with danger after dark. Her coat felt heavy, but it was not the rain that weighed it down, the full bottle of Tequila in her right inside pocket and a bulky envelope in the left, dragged it down at the front. They felt heavy against her ribs but were less obvious inside her coat, a bag would have invited trouble and she had no time for unnecessary interruptions. Nothing would be permitted to interfere and, although she was scared of no-one, it would be stupid to attract attention.
She quickened her pace, sloshing through the swollen puddles. A cat, far too wet for its colour to be determined, glared miserably at her from its hiding place under a communal rubbish bin. It skulked away from her, ears flattened and spat at her before slipping out of sight under the bin. Animals always behaved that way when she wore the amulet, but their reactions were not her concern.
The rain ricocheted off the ground and ran into her boots as she hurried along the narrow alley; she could hear little over its constant drumming. She glanced again at the luminescent face of her watch. She would be late, but he would not complain; he had too much to gain. Or so he thought.
The rain eased a little and she brushed the wet hair from her forehead. Lightning flashed again provoking an even louder crescendo of thunder and a scream from one of the shabby two-room apartments nearby. She gave a snort of derisive laughter, cut short as a dog appeared from nowhere, its wet coat clinging to its skeletal frame. It sidled up to her apparently seeking comfort from the storm; its eyes wide with terror, but it only took a second to realise he had found the wrong person to go to for reassurance. Their eyes locked, his hackles stood on end and more terrified of her than the storm he slunk away, low to the ground desperately seeking a place to hide. Further up the lane he squeezed underneath a burnt out car, where he shivered and whined until she passed by before sloping away, still whimpering, into the darkness.
Reviews: Fool’s Gold
Jae has a fluid, easily accessible writing style, while the stories feature richly layered plots where high fantasy, school-year tribulations and dark nefarious deeds interweave.
Steve Bowkett. Writer, storyteller, educational consultant, Member of Society of Authors and National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE).
Children of all ages will enjoy this book and particularly those in early to mid-teens should identify with these volumes. They will recognise and like Malone’s younger central characters; and anyone who likes a little underground elf activity will not be disappointed. The author is a fine storyteller who seems effortlessly to combine the natural and the supernatural worlds. Editor: Nottinghamshire Today
Wow. I can’t wait to read this new book. I have so enjoyed reading the three previous books. Facebook Reader Review
Then, after ten years running New Writers UK whilst working full-time and organising events, I reduced the administrative tasks to return to my first love, writing. This year has seen the launch of book four in ‘The Winterne Series’, ‘Avaroc Returns’ which begins in the Midlands but moves to the Mendips.
Extract: Avaroc Returns
All five students nodded gravely and made an oath on the Lords of Alfheim to obey. But no-one saw Piras and Ciran as they crossed their fingers behind their backs and winked at each other. Sadly, on this occasion, Piggybait’s instinct for knowing when trouble was coming, let him down.
It was the best kind of night for foraging. Countless stars shimmered in the dark velvet blue sky, the ground was frozen, the air crisp and clean and, apart from an occasional barking grunt of a stag, the yipping high-pitched bark of a fox somewhere in the distance, and the odd hungry owl that flitted by, all was quiet. With daybreak on its way, the bats had returned to their roosts and most of the woodland wildlife was still snuggled up in dens, setts, dreys and nests to keep warm by sleeping through the cold days, hibernating until Spring.
In fact, the venture had begun so well, everyone obedient and attentive – even the twins – Piggybait had started to think it was going to be an enjoyable night after all, but things began to go wrong when they found themselves close to Bragg’s Farm. After his warning, he was confident the elflings – again, even the twins had listened, but they hung back and when Piggybait and their companions walked ahead, they slipped away through the trees unnoticed, eager to prove how daring they wereand that would show the others they were smarter than their tutor.
They scrambled across a fallen tree trunk spanning a narrow part of the river, and snuck away into Bragg’s barn, completely forgetting to check where the dogs were and, as luck would have it, on this night they were not chained up.
Having reached the cider barn and busy with self-congratulation, Ciran made a whooping noise, startled some sleeping hens and their noise awoke the dogs. What followed was a confusion of barking dogs, lights, shouts, cries, clucking hens and feathers.
Piggybait, on hearing the disturbance, left the other three elflings with strict orders to stay where they were until he returned, dashed to the farm, leapt over the fence and darted in front of the two loose, slavering Mastiffs to act as a decoy to allow the twins time to get away. He was surprisingly agile for one of his age – even an elf. Distracting the dogs from the now terrified twins, Piggybait sprinted into the surrounding trees with the snarling dogs following him. He did not see the back door open, light flood out into the backyard or see the pellets being loaded into the shotgun. A gunshot rang out! Bragg!
Convinced Bragg could see him easily on such a crystal-clear winter night when the moon was full and the sky teeming with silver, glittering stars, Piggybait fled from the swiftly pursuing dogs with their bared teeth and slavering drool. He could hear the unfit and overweight Bragg swearing and gasping for breath as he struggled to follow the dogs and their target. But Piggybait still had a slight lead on the dogs and ran on to where he knew there was a small gap in the fence. This should give the twins time to get away; he hoped they had had the sense to join the others hiding amongst the trees.
Wriggling through the fence, expecting to be safe on the other side, he stopped to draw breath but the dogs, around one hundred kilos of vicious, solid muscle, barged through as though the fence were made of matchsticks. Shattering panels into splinters, they charged but Piggybait was already speeding away towards the one place he knew would stop them. The river! Too wide for the dogs to jump, and too fast for them to swim, Piggybait knew he could lose them there.
While he raced along the riverbank searching for the right tree, they almost caught him. They were so close he could smell their hot, foul-smelling breath. Reaching the tree he had used earlier, he sprang up the thick, gnarled trunk to the higher branches wishing it was summer and there were more leaves to hide in. But no matter, he was safe enough, dogs could not climb trees and Bragg was too fat.
He rested, watching the frustrated beasts below desperately trying to leap high enough to snatch their quarry from his refuge. He was beyond their capture, but he had no doubt what they would do if they caught him.
Review: Avaroc Returns
With Avaroc Returns being fairly new, working on the children’s competition for months and editing a friend’s memoirs, I haven’t actually asked for reviews yet, but this one was sent directly to me via Facebook. I was thrilled to receive it.
‘I read all 4 books of the series once more after reading book 4, ‘Avaroc Return’s. Wow! What an amazing series. I was totally enthralled with all of the books. Your writing just flows so wonderfully, and it’s so exciting as the amazing stories developed. The final book in the series was so sad at the beginning, and I was so overcome with the evil of Avaroc. You kept me guessing and wondering just how the story was going to end. I tortured myself by only reading so much each night to make it last longer. The story had so many rich and appealing characters, and I wondered what on earth they could possibly do to fight of the evil of Avaroc.
I loved the new characters who were brought in, and their relationship to the ones which I loved and had lost. Your story unfolded to such an exciting finale I almost felt like cheering. My daughter is going to read them next and I will ask her to let you know how much she enjoys them. I was planning a film for the series. I was so sad the series had ended but I’m looking forward to lots more stories in the future. Thank you so much. SR xxx
New Writers UK
Having met other independently published authors, I began New Writers UK as a not-for-profit support organisation for traditionally or independently published, who had no financial or marketing support. Associate members e.g. proof-readers, copy-editors, illustrators, graphic designers, website creators and others who had the skills to assist the writers joined. In addition, I organised Meet the Author sessions, talks, book festivals – primarily in Nottinghamshire but were also held in other East Midlands venues – designed to bring new writers to the attention of the reading public.
These book festivals led to six-day borough wide arts festivals. New Writers UK continued to grow well beyond the UK, and we had members in various parts of Europe. All these issues took over and, again, my writing took second place until I reduced my workload.
Recently I launched two books for younger children, ‘Lorna and the Loch Ness Monster’ which has the approval of Historic Environment Scotland, administrators of Scotland’s historical sites, and ‘The Raven and the Thief’ which is set at the Tower of London.
Other projects and events:
My most satisfying undertaking was, in 2009, to create a free-to-enter annual writing competition for Nottinghamshire children. Children from School Year 4 to 18 year can enter. Annually, finalists receive awards and presented with a published collection of their entries at a civic ceremony; this year we had 39 finalists.
Since founding New Writers UK I have organised projects working with diverse groups of people. One, a history project, ‘Myths and Legends of Mansfield Woodhouse’ helped local children discover their area’s heritage and write stories giving their theories of how bygone incidents had taken place.
In 2012, I set up a short story competition for over 55’s – ‘Silver Scribes’. Twenty of were selected for an anthology and the authors were presented with copies of the book. Some were so encouraged by seeing their stories in print, they went on to write their own novels. Three ladies were published separately in ‘Granny’s Tales’, seven lovely stories for reading to children and grandchildren.
When I retired from Nottingham County Council, the Chief Executive suggested I visit day centres for people with special needs. At a centre for older people I read short stories aimed at helping dementia sufferers recall precious memories.
Then came two day centres with groups of people with learning difficulties and physical disabilities and assisted them in writing their own children’s stories. ‘The Magical Wizard and the Easter Egg Hunt’, ‘A Frog Called Rod’, ‘A Chicken Called Doris’ and ‘An Elephant Called André’ resulted from these visits and went on for two years.
Currently, in addition to the two ‘Winterne Series books mentioned previously, I am continuing my books for younger children with a series on the care of our wildlife animals intended to gently encourage awareness of conservation. The first two ‘Blue Teaches a Lesson’ when a mother badger has to teach her cubs that there’s more to survival than play, and ‘Mrs Pringles Needs a Nurse’, are now with the illustrator, Jess Hawksworth. Both books should be available by Spring 2020.
Author of ‘The Winterne Series’
Member of The Society of Authors (SoA)
Member of The National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE)
My thanks to this weeks guest for a great post. I hope you all enjoyed it.
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