Playing with Murder – Publication News

Back in September, my short story, Playing with Murder was published in Unveiled Secrets, a Fantasia Divinity anthology, and I forgot to share the news…

Here’s the summary for Playing with Murder:

When Theo Reed returns to his room in Drake’s Lodging House after a short work trip out of town, it’s to a nasty surprise: a dead body lying on the floor.  He doesn’t know the victim, but the police believe they know the murderer.  Him.  That’s problem number one.

Problem number two: Theo Reed is no angel.  He’s no murderer either, but he’s going to have convince a lot of people of that.  What ensues is a chase across the city, the outcome of which has deadly consequences for him, should he fail.

Playing with Murder is an urban low fantasy mystery, set in another world not that dissimilar to Victorian England.

Here’s the summary from the anthology as a whole from Amazon:

Detective stories are popular the world over, fueling people’s desires to know “whodunit.” Combine that with the magic and myths of fantasy and you’ve entered a whole new world of mystery and intrigue! Join us on this adventure filled with 11 detective fantasy stories that will strike your imagination!

With stories by J.W. Grace, Gerry Griffiths, Sandy Underman, Sammi Cox, DM Burdett, Deeanna West, Zoey Xolton, Danielle Davis, Lionel Ray Green, Charlotte Platt, and Rebecca Buchanan

My thanks to Fantasia Divinity for selecting it for the anthology, and to M.E. Rodman for editing.

Find it on Amazon and Goodreads

A Samhain Summoning – Publication News

One of my stories, A Samhain Summoning, was published in an anthology on Halloween…very fitting for a collection of stories inspired by witches and magic.

The anthology is “Hexed”, from Iron Faerie Publishing.  My thanks to the Stacey Jaine McIntosh for including my story. Here’s the book description:

Magic, mayhem and mystery.

Cloaked in magic and surrounded by darkness witches have captured our imagination for millennia and fascinate us more than ever today.

From the wise old crone, witches can be healers and protectors, keepers of the old ways or possessed with supernatural abilities, used for good or evil.

Enter the world of witches – whatever the guise – and enjoy these wicked and wonderful short tales sure to delight!

You can find out more about the anthology, or get yourself a copy, by heading over to Amazon.

Excavating the Archives: The Frozen City

I had never seen anything like it.  A city made of crystal, that shimmered in the light of the sun, moon and stars. So different and bizarre to my eyes was it, that I could have been on another planet.  Perhaps I was.  Or perhaps it was the same planet, but a different time; a different reality.  I could not say.  I was puzzled by many things, the chief of which was how I came to be here, a mystery I had yet to find the answer to.

To look at it from a distance – and I did, for I was so taken by its beauty – you would see a collection of upside down icicles.  Some ended in sharp points.  Others appeared as if they had been broken, their tops snapped off, leaving either strange jagged protrusions or else being weathered smooth by the passage of time.

It looked cold, a city of winter in the heart of a forest that stretched for thousands of miles in every direction.  But looks can be deceiving.  There was warmth there and much jollity to be found.  The people were quick to laugh and slow to anger.

It was a pleasant place to stay, but I wasn’t from there.  I wasn’t one of them and this wasn’t my home.  I was stuck here, unable to return, no different from being stranded on another planet…but I could imagine worse places…


This was originally posted in September 2017. You can find the original post here.

Visiting the Iron Age

First…a quick apology to anyone who saw a Silent Sunday post in their feed this morning.  I know it’s not a Sunday.  Let me explain…After my first attempt at using the new editor on Monday seemed to go ok, I thought I would try scheduling a post today for later this month…Everything appeared to be going well, until I hit the “schedule” button and a strange comment popped up which amounted to a “you can’t do this for some reason” (my interpretation) and so it was published instead.  Don’t really know what I did wrong, and don’t really have the time to look into, so I’m back to the classic editor.  Sigh.

Anyway, here’s today’s post…Enjoy!


Visiting the Iron Age…both in real life and in fiction

A few weeks ago we spent a few days away in north west Shropshire, and one of those – or at least, one afternoon – was spent exploring Old Oswestry Hillfort.  Dating back to the Iron Age, it is one of the best preserved hillforts in Britain…

I find the Iron Age to be one of the most interesting periods of history and so I loved every moment of walking around the site. I took loads of photos, and I thought it would be fun to share a few of them here.

My novel “Oathbreaker”, is set during the Iron Age (spot the seamless transition there 😉 ). Did you know you can read it for free on Wattpad?  It was first drafted in summer / autumn 2018, and at the time the chapters were only given numbers.  However, whilst I’d been giving the story a (very) light edit a few weeks ago, which was inspired by the trip to the hillfort, I added in chapter titles and chapter header images too.  The photos are all my own, and hopefully reflect one of the themes running through the story: the power and magic of nature, of which there was plenty of both at Old Oswestry.

Hillforts like the one at Old Oswestry would not have been an unfamiliar sight to Eleri and Celyn, the two main characters in Oathbreaker, though they probably would have found the size and scale of the multiple ramparts to be quite impressive.

You can read more about the history of Old Oswestry Hillfort, on this page on the English Heritage website.

The view in the photo above shows the main path up to the top of the hillfort, whilst the one below looks out across the not-very-flat plateau…

The site sprawls across the local area.  On the next, very steep hill over, was a lovely woodland which we also took the opportunity to walk around:

Although some people might argue there isn’t much to see today at a site like this, compared to a castle or even a stone circle, (not everyone finds lumps and bumps in the ground as exciting as me 😉 ), the atmosphere was imbued with history.  Looking out across the hills, it’s easy to appreciate why the site was chosen: the tribe living there would have had a commanding view of their territory, and should they needed to have defended it from attackers, those multiple steep ramparts would have given them a sense of safety and protection.  I can only imagine how fit and strong an invading force would’ve had to have been to run up that hill, carrying weapons and perhaps a shield, whilst the defenders rained down missiles from above, and still be in a condition to fight when they reached the top!

If you enjoy reading historical fantasy with a dash of romance, and inspired by the myth, magic and landscape of the Iron Age, please do check out Oathbreaker. Here’s the story summary:

‘Be my wife.’ The words were so quiet, Eleri wondered if she had really heard them. ‘Please, Eleri. Be my wife,’ he said again, louder and with even more intensity.

Eleri, priestess of the Green Lady, has waited for so long to marry her tribe’s champion, Celyn. Finally, the date is set for Midsummer’s Eve, when the tribes have gathered in the valley to celebrate the longest day at the stone circle perched up on the hill. But nothing is as it seems…

A glimpse of a bird circling over the stones foretells of doom…and maybe even death.

An oath is made. An oath is broken. And Eleri’s life changes forever…

*
“Oathbreaker” is a story inspired by ancient history, mythology, and the landscape. Set in the Iron Age, where there is no distinction between history and mythology, and where magic is as real as the ground beneath your feet, Oathbreaker charts the journey of Eleri, Priestess of the Green Lady and the unusual quest she finds herself forced to make…

If you enjoy historical fiction, myths and legends, fantasy, adventure and romance, you might enjoy this too…

You can find Oathbreaker here.

Excavating the Archives: Waiting for Wings

She stood at the very edge of the escarpment, at that point where her heels were still on the top of the hill but her toes were dangling off the edge, hovering in the air.

It was a long way down.  

She closed her eyes and stretched out her arms, imagining that they were covered in feathers, and with one leap could catch an updraft and fly off to…well, anywhere she wanted to go.  Just like in the story where the chieftain’s son had grown wings so he could fly to the sun and save his sister from the god who wanted to marry her.

With a desperate sigh, she took a few steps back.  One day she knew that dream would see her falling off the edge and tumbling into nothingness.

But it wasn’t today.  She hadn’t learned to fly yet.


You can find the original post here: Waiting for Wings – 18 May 2017

Interview with Crispina Kemp, author of The Spinner’s Game – Part 3

You may have seen the interview with Crispina Kemp I shared a few weeks ago from my book review blog, Sammi Loves Books. Now I get to share with you an epic three-part interview with Crispina, as we talk about her soon-to-be released five book historical fantasy series, The Spinner’s Game.

In Part 1, Crispina answered questions on writing the series, the main character, Kerrid, and where the story is set. In Part 2, she answered questions on magic, mythology and society in her stories. The third and final part of the interview can be found below, where we turn our attention to language, characters and favourite things…

Part 3: Languages and Characters

The terminology you’ve created in the book is interesting. Farfoot, Wolfman, Zeflas…  How did you devise the words?  And what is the difference between Wise-One and a Breathman?

Some terms are logical – at least, I think so. To farfoot is to walk a great distance, to explore the far-lands, to form alliances with distant tribes and open trade routes. And because of his greater experience and knowledge, and his contacts who can be called upon in times of need, a farfoot will make a good chief. In Gushan, the term farfoot has replaced the term chief.

But why is a farfoot also called a wolfman? That’s logical too – at least to me. Beyond and between the encampments, a lone farfooter would make excellent prey for the grey-furred hunters. Yet in the ritual killing of a wolf and the donning of its skin, the wolfman acquires the wolf-spirit’s protection. In like manner, a chief will wear the skin of a big cat, whose spirit then protects the clan against other cats.

The case for the zeflas is different. Zeflas are small disease, polluting, or stinging demons. I changed demon to zefla at the suggestion of one of my early readers for, as she said, in today’s fantasies, demons are something else entirely. But why zefla? It’s a corruption of seraphim. It seemed to fit.

And you’re not the first to ask what’s the difference between Wise-One and a Breathman.

Bargli is a breathman while Serande is a wise-man. Both know how to oblige the divines and to protect against the lesser zeflas. We see the difference when there’s a problem with no stock solution. Then they must consult the divines.

Kitted out in various skins to ensure their spirit’s protection, Bargli spins to entrance – downward, to the Horned One’s Dark Domain, to the begetter of the Six Clans of Gushan.

Meanwhile, Serande squeezes himself into a womblike cave where he downs a disgusting concoction of hallucinogens and drums himself into the all-encompassing Oracular Web. All truths, he says, are found in that Web.

So, I guess we might say, the breathman consults the Father, the wise-man the Mother.

So we’ve spoken of how you invented words, how did you create the names for your characters?

I’ve already said about Kerrid, that her name, inspired by the Welsh goddess Cerridwen, pre-existed The Spinner’s Game.

The others? For many I took inspiration from Sumerian names. Just to end a name in -il, or -li gives it an alien and ancient feel. And likewise, having found Kerrid’s name, I repeated that -id ending: Suenid, the Uissids (pronounced Wizids). But I controlled my passion for ending names in -en, -in, and -an, which I think is possibly a Germanic thing. There are some; Gimmerin for example. Another trick I used was to change a letter or two in an English name. Elizabeth became Erazibat.

But no matter the names used in the beginning, many evolved into something else during the writing process. A matter of rhythm, the flow of the sentence, and has it the right sound for the character? During those early days my brain made adjustments without consultation.

Who was the hardest character to write, and why?

My answer to that is a character from the second book, Lake of Dreams. Urinod.

He’s not the worst of the Uissids, but still he’s not a nice character. One of my beta-readers was offended by him and called him a toxic male. Certainly, he’s a misogynist who can’t abide Kerrid, in his opinion the root of all evil. He’s very much a physical person too; prefers to use his fists not his head – unless it’s to head-butt. And he’s possessive of his position within the Uissid’s hierarchy. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as head-on as that. It would have been easy to paint him all the way bad, but everyone has a backstory that explains how they are. I’d say his comes in one word: Olun, his older brother.

Now a question of favourites: who was your favourite character to write, where was your favourite location and what is your favourite quote from the first book in the series, The Spinner’s Child?

My favourite character to write, both in The Spinner’s Child and The Spinner’s Game is the one character everyone hates. The loathsome, psychopathic Paddlo. I had great fun with him, though several times I had to pull back. Gimmerin holds a close second place. For me, he’s an amalgam of every woman’s despised husband. He does try… truly. But he’s such an egotist.

My favourite location? In The Spinner’s Child, I’d say that’s the Spinner’s Otherworld Web, based on a vision experienced many years ago during meditation.

And my favourite quote? I have several, depending upon my mood. I’ve taken this from Kerrid’s first meeting with Gimmerin.

‘My brothers would fume if they knew I helped you,’ he said.
‘You’d best return to them then. I’m surprised any of Chief Uissinir’s sons care to help. I’m surprised they dare interfere.’
Her shimmer twitched. His flames remained steady. She pursed her lips. And again, her hands wouldn’t be still but rubbed her thighs.
‘Itch, do they?’
She picked at a bead instead.

One final question to bring this three-part interview to a close. If readers take away one thing from The Spinner’s Child, what do you hope that is?

First – and for this, it’s easiest to quote the poet Omar Khayyam: The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on. Nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.

In other words, what’s done is done and can’t now be undone; a sentiment expressed several times in the course of the five books. However, while it can’t be undone, one can make amends and put things right. It’s this which drives Kerrid to complete her journey.

Second: What at first might seem a disability, with acceptance can become a gift. I’ve seen this in my own life, where a speech defect in childhood served as the impetus to develop my writing skills so I could communicate. Yet look where it’s taken me.

If you would like to read my thoughts on the first book in the series, The Spinner’s Child, you can find the review here.

The Spinner’s Game

All five books of Crispina Kemp’s series, The Spinner’s Game, are available for pre-order now, with a release date of 21st March 2020. Follow the link below to her Amazon author page or website for more information.

Connect with Crispina Kemp

Failing to find a place on the space programme – to boldly go – I turned my vision inwards to a study of psychology and exploration of spirituality. This encouraged an outward journey to explore this wonderful world, its peoples, its beliefs, but mostly its pasts. From the exploration I returned with the core of my writing.

But, for the more mundane-minded: For a shy child with a speech problem, the written word came as a release, enabling me to express myself without being asked, ‘Eh? What did you say? Say again?’ I wrote my first ‘proper’ story when I was nine. A gothic offering to scare my friends. Since then, there’s been scarcely a day when I haven’t been busy writing. Novels. The short story form doesn’t appeal to me, although over recent months I have posted micro-fiction on my blog.

In my early teens, I visited Grimes Graves, the Neolithic flint mines in Norfolk. The following summer, I visited Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Thence began a lifelong interest in the archaeology of prehistory. The study of myths and legends seemed a natural progression, and from there to linguistics (despite my inability to pronounce the words).

Resident in Norfolk where my roots dig deep, my regular rambles into the surrounding countryside provide balance to the cerebral… and ample subjects for my camera.

I can be found on crispinakemp.com and my author’s page on Amazon

Next week: An interview with writer and book cover designer Lauren Willmore

Interview with Crispina Kemp, author of The Spinner’s Game – Part 2

You may have seen the interview with Crispina Kemp I shared a few weeks ago from my book review blog, Sammi Loves Books. Now I get to share with you an epic three-part interview with Crispina, as we talk about her soon-to-be released five book historical fantasy series, The Spinner’s Game.

In Part 1, Crispina answered questions on writing the series, the main character, Kerrid, and where the story is set. The second part of the interview can be found below, where Crispina answers some questions on magic, mythology and society in her stories. Tune in next week for Part 3, when we turn our attention to language, characters and favourite things…

Part 2: Magic, Myth and Society

The story has a rich mythological framework woven through it.  How does Kerrid and her people view and interact with the divine? How easy was it to create the mythology and fables? 

Before there was a belief in the gods, there was a belief in an all-pervading ‘Spirit’, a belief still prevalent throughout our world, and not only in non-technological societies. In fact, it is regaining ground in the West.

But for Kerrid’s people that belief included the notion of agency, known today as animism, in which Spirit, now coalesced into discrete entities, is able to act of its own volition. With the relevant gifts, these discrete entities – divines – might be made to act on the donor’s behalf. But who knows which gifts might oblige them? While knowledge of the more common gifts – e.g. a slop of brew for the Lady of the Hills will keep her sweet and not convulsing – anything out of the ordinary requires a specialist.

And then there are the demons. The role of a demon is to destroy. As Kerrid says, it’s what they do. They cause disease and rot.

I enjoyed creating the myths and fables. Straight from my head? I think not. I have read so much mythology over the years, it’s more likely they’re an amalgamation of many myths, distilled to their essence and simplified.

The first public outing of The Spinner’s Game was in instalment form on my blog where I called it Feast Fables. I imagined the fables not as tales but as ‘things said’ at the time of the feast. At Christmas we talk of Santa, his flying reindeer, his helpful elves. At Easter, we say of the Easter Bunny hiding its eggs. At Halloween, we speak of witches and goblins and the awakening dead. While these have roots in ancient rituals and beliefs, they are not myths. They’re feast fables. And so too with Kerrid’s people. Everyone knew the Lady’s sons had cut up their mother to make the world, but few knew the underlying myth.

Magical rituals make a number of appearances throughout the book. Could you explain a little about how magic operates in this world?

First, with animism, magic is everywhere, and everyone a practitioner… all without them knowing it. For anyone who makes a gift and gets a result is working magic. To Kerrid’s people, this would be as commonplace as for us to switch on a light. But that’s for everyday-everywhere magic. As I’ve already said, sometimes a specialist is needed. A specialist serves as a repository of the tribe’s magic lore – imagine a living encyclopaedia. But more important, the specialist knows how to communicate with the divines (Spirit); thus the specialist can ask what the divine might like.

The other magic in this world belongs to Kerrid and her Asars. It doesn’t belong in this world, it’s intrusive. Moreover, unlike the popular magic where knowledge and use is handed down from practitioner to practitioner, this is an intrinsic force that can’t be acquired. In other words, the Asars are magical beings (but don’t let them hear you say that).

The Spinner’s Child is set in a patriarchal society, where the roles of women are limited.  How do you think readers should approach this aspect of the story?

I’d say we should not project today’s conditions upon the past. They are not at all the same. We have medicines, social welfare, charities, schools, day care centres, food bought in shops, power delivered by pipes and cables. We have longevity and paid employment.

Imagine that your daily food depends upon a successful hunt, or a full fishing net, and what you can gather of fruits and nuts and roots in season (and eggs and insects and lizards). Imagine you’re the one who has to fetch it. And you have two children.

You can’t join the hunt with children in tow – though ‘tis true, you might leave them with the old folk. Except few people survive beyond their thirtieth birthday. Women die in childbirth. Men die in hunting accidents. So, who’s looking after your children while you join with the men in the hunt? Safer for the children if you restrict yourself to gathering. Besides, there’s always good gossip amongst the women. And you need their friendship so they’ll share their food with your children should you be ill.

The scenarios multiply. But always the concern for the children limits what a woman can do. Those children are the future of the family, the clan and the tribe. Yet without access to a healthy reproductive woman, there can be no children. Therefore, the women are valued even beyond the children. For a child might die (until recently, infant mortality was appallingly high) but a healthy woman can bear another.

Such was the origin of patriarchy, though intensified and corrupted into something oppressive with the rise of city-states and standing armies.

Part Three coming next week!

If you would like to read my thoughts on the first book in the series, The Spinner’s Child, you can find the review here.

The Spinner’s Game

All five books of Crispina Kemp’s series, The Spinner’s Game, are available for pre-order now, with a release date of 21st March 2020. Follow the link below to her Amazon author page or website for more information.

As a bonus, she says:

“And I’m now able to offer a full-sized, full-colour map of Lake of Skulls – a high resolution (2048 x 1536 px) full-colour fantasy map on pdf – if the reader sends me proof of pre-order. They should contact me via my Contact Me page on crispinakemp.com”

Connect with Crispina Kemp

Failing to find a place on the space programme – to boldly go – I turned my vision inwards to a study of psychology and exploration of spirituality. This encouraged an outward journey to explore this wonderful world, its peoples, its beliefs, but mostly its pasts. From the exploration I returned with the core of my writing.

But, for the more mundane-minded: For a shy child with a speech problem, the written word came as a release, enabling me to express myself without being asked, ‘Eh? What did you say? Say again?’ I wrote my first ‘proper’ story when I was nine. A gothic offering to scare my friends. Since then, there’s been scarcely a day when I haven’t been busy writing. Novels. The short story form doesn’t appeal to me, although over recent months I have posted micro-fiction on my blog.

In my early teens, I visited Grimes Graves, the Neolithic flint mines in Norfolk. The following summer, I visited Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Thence began a lifelong interest in the archaeology of prehistory. The study of myths and legends seemed a natural progression, and from there to linguistics (despite my inability to pronounce the words).

Resident in Norfolk where my roots dig deep, my regular rambles into the surrounding countryside provide balance to the cerebral… and ample subjects for my camera.

I can be found on crispinakemp.com and my author’s page on Amazon

Interview with Crispina Kemp, author of The Spinner’s Game – Part 1

You may have seen the interview with Crispina Kemp I shared a few weeks ago from my book review blog, Sammi Loves Books. Now I get to share with you an epic three-part interview with Crispina, as we talk about her soon-to-be released five book historical fantasy series, The Spinner’s Game.

The first part of the interview can be found below, where Crispina answers some questions on writing the series, the main character, Kerrid, and where the story is set. Tune in next Friday for Part 2, when we turn our attention to magic and mythology, amongst other things…

Part 1: Introducing an Epic Series

You’ve just released a five-book fantasy series for pre-order, The Spinner’s Game.  Could you please introduce the series for those not yet acquainted with it.

Simplest said is the starting premise: To be different is to be feared, and people destroy what they fear. Kerrid is different; she has disturbing powers not shared by any in her clan. The Spinner’s Game follows Kerrid’s journey across vast distances through a world of changing cultures, from tribal to early townships, as she discovers her truths and puts right an ancient wrong.

A five-book series, with each instalment being an epic-length book, is not only a huge achievement, but a huge commitment too.  How long did the process take you roughly from beginning to end?  And, what were the highs and lows, if any, of your journey?

If we take it from the first draft, then my simple answer is 14 years. But that’s a misrepresentation. During the first 12 years, I also wrote several other stories.

I began The Spinner’s Game in 2006. But for an unknown author, its word-count of 150,000 was too high. I set it aside, to come back to it in 2012 when I restructured it… and doubled the word-count. It was now a trilogy.

In December 2012, I created the Feast Fables blog where I posted The Spinner’s Game in instalments. It took three years.
I thought that would satisfy my need to expose the Spinner’s child to public view. But it didn’t. In November 2017, I announced my intention to publish the story as an e-book. And the first thing I did was again to restructure it. Now into five parts.

The highs and the lows of that journey?

There have been many highs, more than there have been lows. The highest was when my critique partner, cover-designer Lauren Willmore, offered her talents to design the covers. When I saw that first cover, even though it was only in rough… wow! And she continued to deliver amazing covers.

But the lows…? The long hours I was working towards the end. For the entirety of January, I was putting in eight hours a day, every day, to complete and make ready to upload. It was hard graft, but it was worth it.

How did the character of Kerrid come to you?  Was she fully formed or did her personality and background slowly reveal themselves as the story progressed?

The first glimmer of inspiration was from the Welsh myth of the goddess Cerridwen with her magical cauldron. Oh, how far she has come from there!

Kerrid began as the antagonist in The Hare and the Adder, a story yet to be reworked to my satisfaction. As head of a trading empire, she already had certain qualities… and her otherworldly abilities. But she had no backstory. How did she come to be perched on the western shores of the Boundless Sea? And why doesn’t she like my protagonist? There began her backstory… which became The Spinner’s Game.

During the initial creation of characters, I sometimes assign them an astrological sun sign. In The Spinner’s Child, Gimmerin takes Aries – red hair, body conscious, a me-first attitude. Kerrid takes Libra – but to explain the reasons behind that would give too many spoilers. However, it’s her Libran qualities that endow her with a love of fabrics, and her indecisiveness. Other than that, Kerrid’s character was forged by the challenges faced from early childhood on.

The series blends prehistory with imaginative fantasy on an epic scale, but where is the story set?  Here in this world, or in a secondary world?  Are the descriptions of locations of real places? If not, do any take their inspiration from real world destinations?

While the story belongs to this world, it is a myth and, as with all myths, is set in liminal times, at liminal places. These (liminal) thresholds are a recognised stage of initiation, to move beyond effects a change.

We see this and acknowledge it even in our hurried asphalt-greyed days. The sweetness of spring, the autumnal smell of decay, the lengthening days with the promise of warmth and sun and good times ahead. And at these times fall the major religious holidays. Place too: the woodland edge, the mountain top, the cave as an entrance to another world, and the many borders of land and sea. Who does not find inspiration in a simple riverside walk? In such places we gain a sense of being outside of time. It’s in that ‘outside of time and space’ that the story is set.

But also, I did have specific eras and geographic regions in mind when writing. In my head, the story begins just as the Younger Dryas (the last blip of the Ice Age) was beginning to bite. I imagined the women of Kerrid’s clan as horticulturists. During the last Glacial Maximum, many of our temperate plants found refuge south of the Caspian Sea. The apple is believed to come from here. But the region served as a hook to help me research the flora and fauna.

In a similar vein, when Kerrid travels west and north in search of the pole that threads, it seemed logical to place her on the Atlantic seaboard of Western Europe, a familiar landscape for me.

Part Two coming next week!

The Spinner’s Game

All five books of Crispina Kemp’s series, The Spinner’s Game, are available for pre-order now, with a release date of 21st March 2020. Follow the link below to her Amazon author page or website for more information.

As a bonus, she says:

“And I’m now able to offer a full-sized, full-colour map of Lake of Skulls – a high resolution (2048 x 1536 px) full-colour fantasy map on pdf – if the reader sends me proof of pre-order. They should contact me via my Contact Me page on crispinakemp.com”

Connect with Crispina Kemp

Failing to find a place on the space programme – to boldly go – I turned my vision inwards to a study of psychology and exploration of spirituality. This encouraged an outward journey to explore this wonderful world, its peoples, its beliefs, but mostly its pasts. From the exploration I returned with the core of my writing.

But, for the more mundane-minded: For a shy child with a speech problem, the written word came as a release, enabling me to express myself without being asked, ‘Eh? What did you say? Say again?’ I wrote my first ‘proper’ story when I was nine. A gothic offering to scare my friends. Since then, there’s been scarcely a day when I haven’t been busy writing. Novels. The short story form doesn’t appeal to me, although over recent months I have posted micro-fiction on my blog.

In my early teens, I visited Grimes Graves, the Neolithic flint mines in Norfolk. The following summer, I visited Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Thence began a lifelong interest in the archaeology of prehistory. The study of myths and legends seemed a natural progression, and from there to linguistics (despite my inability to pronounce the words).

Resident in Norfolk where my roots dig deep, my regular rambles into the surrounding countryside provide balance to the cerebral… and ample subjects for my camera.

I can be found on crispinakemp.com and my author’s page on Amazon

Time to Think, A Boat Adrift & Through The Portal (Lyr #52, #53 & #54)

What follows is Part 52, 53 & 54 of an on-going serial I’m writing called, “Lyr the Enchanter”. To read the story from the beginning, you can find the story index, here.


Time to Think (Lyr #52)

I’m not ashamed to say I felt the prickling of fear invade my heart, if only for a moment. Everything was suddenly beyond my control, my fate in the hands of another. Someone who possessed the magic of an enchanter.

I recalled the words The Hag had spoken to me only moments before: You’re not really there. My senses at once awakened.

I closed my eyes and ignored the enchanter’s web that was currently dragging me against my will to Mortlea Manor, when another thought struck. I needed a moment to dwell on it, and to do that, I needed time. Something I currently lacked.

An enchantment was called for. With eyes still closed, I summoned a simple dreamspell. At once the bindings loosened, and I hit the earth with a bump. I was in a small woodland in the grounds of the Manor, but I had no time to waste sightseeing…


Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #52 | Word count: 152


A Boat Adrift (Lyr #53)

Time was short. Using a basic charm to break the binding had worked (most enchanters think on too grand a scale, believing bigger is better, which is almost never true), though it wouldn’t take long for my own spell to be countered. In the intervening time I needed to think.

I paced between the trees, letting my thoughts run wild.

If I’m not really here how could someone else’s magic work on me? Why had I not heard The Hag’s voice again? If this wasn’t real, was it possible for me to be taken to Mortlea Manor against my will? After all, hadn’t I actually wanted to go there?

‘If you can hear me, now might be a good time to offer some advice,’ I said quietly to The Hag. But there was nothing, only silence. I was a boat adrift…completely out of my depth…and very much alone.


Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #53 | Word count: 148


Through The Portal (Lyr #54)

There was no time to ponder further. Storm clouds gathered and crashed overhead. There was no rain, but there was plenty of magic. The sound was deafening. Startled, I clasped my hands to the side of my head. A portal opened in the trees in front of me, and before I could think to do anything, a swirling vortex pulled me into it.

I twisted and turned in the air, and the world for the most part went dark, except for strange lights that flashed passed me. Then, as quickly as the whole thing started, it stopped and I was deposited (with another bump) on a cold, hard floor.

I looked around. I was in a vaulted room, the only light coming from hundreds of lit candles. It felt subterranean, but also sacred, like a temple.

I didn’t know where I was, but I knew I had been here before…


Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #54 | Word count: 150

An Enchanted Web (Lyr #51)

This is Part 51 of an on-going serial I’m writing called, “Lyr the Enchanter”. To read the story from the beginning, you can find the story index, here.


 

I searched for a way in but the gates refused to open and I could not fit between the ironwork. The only way was for me to try and climb over; an unappealing thought given the sharp pointy arrowheads lining the top.

‘Lyr, you’re thinking in the physical,’ The Hag’s voice spoke into my head. ‘You’re not really there.’

Everything felt so real I had forgotten the metaphysical aspect to the magic of The Enchanter’s Stone. I closed my eyes and began to enchant to find the answer I sought.

I saw candles in a dark room, no more. Then the silence was broken.

‘Hello, Lyr. I’m so glad you could join us at last. We’ve been waiting for you.’

Suddenly I was tightly bound by the silken threads of an enchanted web. The gates opened and by the force of another’s magic, I was hauled towards Mortlea Manor.


Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #51 | Word count: 149