Growing up in the African bushveld for much of my childhood, I related strongly to Kipling’s Mowgli character. We roamed free, barefoot, feral. My mother, a free-spirited writer, and artist, often told us to get out of her hair while she created. We’d disappear into the African bush, not coming home until it got dark.
We lived in rough shelters, following my father in his government job constructing bridges and edifices in the middle of nowhere. We had no television; we didn’t even have electricity. Observing the wild-life of the bushveld was our entertainment, swimming in rivers infested with crocodiles our daily activity, and sometimes we’d bask in water-filled elephant tracks in sandy river beds. In one location our house overlooked a river where animals came to drink. We’d sit on our porch in the evening and watch the herds congregate below. Elephants and lions wandered like shades through our yard at night.
Since there were no schools where we lived, my mother home-schooled me from age five through seven, and after that, sent me to a Christian boarding school.
At age 10, I attended a government school as a day scholar. I was considered a prodigy in reading, and I attribute this to my early obsession with words. I read any book I could get my hands on, even my mother’s “penny horribles.”
Our school emphasized the classics, and I read American authors such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Louisa May Alcott, and Mark Twain; British authors Somerset Maugham, Jack London, Blackmoor, Lewis Carroll, and Jules Verne. All these writers have influenced me in some way.
The biggest influence on my current writing for young people is the children’s author, Enid Blyton. I found her books crammed with adventure and excitement. She always had a group of protagonists, and that, no doubt, has influenced my “Six” characters in the Ialana Series. Later in life, I began to read Stephen King whose style I greatly admire.
We returned to the bush in my early teens, and it was back to boarding school: a religious school that only allowed certain books in their library, so my reading during the dark ages of my life was limited to church-approved literature. How I missed my mother’s vast library of books: Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Somerset Maugham, Agatha Christie, to name only a few. Like me, Mom devoured books, writing short stories and plays in her spare time.
When we returned home for the holidays, we’d produce plays on an 8-track reel-to-reel battery operated recorder, complete with sound effects.
Everything I read influenced not only my writing but my life too. While I never appreciated it at the time, religion was good for me, inspiring me to question every creed put forth in the religious books: I could not accept, as so dogmatically stated by our church, that ours was the only true religion. I scoured libraries and bookstores—when I could find them—for books about other spiritual paths. I studied Buddhism, Hinduism, various outlying paths of Christianity, and then later in life, graduated to the New Age movement. It was there that I finally began to find answers, and those answers have resulted in The
Having spent most of my life traveling, reading, and searching for answers to life and the nature of reality, I finally felt ready to impart a small portion of what I’ve discovered to young people who, like myself, may be searching for a different perspective.
One of the main characters in The Six and the Crystals of Ialana muses:
As Jarah worked, the questions he still had, the questions his father had not answered tumbled around inside his head. If Idris or any of the other so-called gods actually existed, why did they allow war? Why weren’t prayers for peace, healing, and happiness granted when his parents and the people of Meadowfield made offerings every moon to the gods at the roadside shrines?
My characters are confused, not only about the larger picture in general but about themselves, too. All they know is that there is more to life than the mundane and the day-to-day struggle for survival. When they encounter a mentor, the shape-shifter Irusan, that is when he explains the nature of true power:
Enough of this ‘magicked’ stuff. I’m tired of hearing about it. What do you think magic is, anyway? You will come to understand that what is sorcery and magic to you is only the forgotten laws of the universe. What is a universe, you may ask? It is everything around you and in you. Nothing exists that is not a part of it. It’s a field of consciousness, energy, that surrounds—no, that is the wrong word—does not surround, but rather is the makeup of everything that exists
With power comes great responsibility. The Six characters in the Ialana Series are trained to understand that there are choices, and choices have consequences. It is not focused on the external—that they can learn how to fly, to move between geographical points instantly, to be invisible, to read thoughts, to heal—they are also taught to understand how one conducts personal power. True power is harmless, and I wanted to convey these ideas in a way that will resonate with young readers, to entertain, as well as to teach.
The series has an underlying theme of subversion of technology for nefarious purposes. In the first book, crystal technology is so advanced that the technology would be considered magical by the people of Ialana who have forgotten it was once created by their ancestors who almost suffered extinction of a once-great civilization due to its misuse.
While I only have one book available in audio, I expect to have the complete series available in audio soon, and also available on other sites, not just Amazon, although the best prices may be found here in both print and kindle.
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Have a great week,