In the process of writing a single novel called Lord of the Wyrde Woods things kind of exploded in a manic frenzy of creative inspiration; two novels – each slightly different in mood and tempo –developed: Escape from Neverland and Dance into the Wyrd. In the process of re-writing the one original novel into two; peripheral images and possibilities beckoned on either side of the first concept. One concept turned to three and a combination of ideas then added a fourth. The latter had a spin-off even before it was started properly and a second spin-off developed into a fifth novel concept. Confused? I am.
An attempt to bring some order, here in chronological order:
THE FOOL’S FOLLY: Brainstorming
1889-1904. The story of Oscar Malheur and his daughter Priscilla.
WILL’S WAR: A STORY OF WARTIME BRIGHTON SYNOPSIS (Novella) STATUS: IN REVISION
June 1940. Will Maskall is twelve years old and up till now has more or less been enjoying the war. From his perspective it has brought about changes to his native seaside town of Brighton which are endlessly fascinating to explore: Spitfires, disrupted lessons, easy pennies, mutoscopic voyeurism, gun batteries on the seafront and the Luftwaffe freely distributing highly collectible shiny cannon shells when Messerschmitt 109s strafe Will and his best mate Jamie on the streets.
As the summer progresses however, Will discovers that war has its disadvantages too. Access to some of his favourite playgrounds is restricted, chocolate becomes inedible and confectionary stores are steadily running out of sweets. Trying to make sense of it all in an increasingly bewildering world Will is determined to face off the expected Nazi invasion. Protected by an oversized tin hat and armed with a fine blackthorn catapult and Class A Ammo he and Jamie prepare to fight on the beaches and conduct themselves with the manly valour expected of Englishmen. For the only thing Will is sure of is that Sussex wun’t be druv, not by London and certainly not by that madcap dictator in Berlin.
SECRET OF THE WYRDE WOODS SYNOPSIS (Two Series Novel) STATUS: IN PRODUCTION
BOOK ONE: 1940-1941 (temporary working title)
Joy Whitfield is different from the other kids at school. She pretends indifference to her isolation, finding solace in the Wyrde Woods with her owl Thallie. Then the war turns life in the Wyrde Woods upside down as many local men leave to join the army and evacuees from areas threatened by possible invasion or bombardments flood in. The first evacuee she meets; Maisy Robbins from London turns from stranger-to-friend-to-sister in the space it takes to sing a Great War Tommie song containing highly inappropriate language for twelve-year-olds. Then Will Maskall arrives from Brighton and the friendship that develops creates a whirlpool of energy which draws together a gang of children determined to defend the Wyrde Woods from invasion at all cost just as the impact of the war on rural areas is beginning to hit home. Like many similar gangs of kids at the time – determined to defend ‘their’ commons or whatever nearby terrain was their adult-less private kingdom – they armed themselves with bows and arrows and cunning traps. It was wartime; these children were determined to be warriors in defence of their homeland and dark clouds of danger loomed on the horizon.
BOOK TWO: 1942-1943 (temporary working title)
The cohesion of collective enthusiasm is rapidly waning. The threat of invasion has receded. Many of the gang have reached the age where poor kids are expected to start fending for themselves and priorities have changed – causing tensions in the group. The defence of the Wyrde Woods starts to slacken just as an unseen menace is about to unleash wicked plans to unleash an ancient terror on Sussex. Will the oaths sworn by Oak and Acorn be honoured? Or will the Wyrde Woods become tainted by an evil that lingers for a thousand years?
SHIMS OF THE WYRDE WOODS SYNOPSIS (NOVEL) STATUS: PRIMARY RESEARCH
Liz Pilbeame has a gift but it is one she would rather not have. She finds some solace in the Wyrde Woods where the gift is respected but elsewhere it condemns her to brutal disapproval. Increasingly sceptical about the well-trodden paths society offers her as a future she turns her back on that society to live a life of her own with the love of her life; Nyle Twyner. She will soon discover that her lifestyle is threatened by hostile authorities and the fragile peace of mind she discovered by the intentions of a Mortimer Malheur. A local aristocrat, Mortimer Malheur has slowly succumbed to madness and is stirring up trouble in places which will cast Liz into turmoil and require her to stand by the Guardians of the Wyrde Woods – led by Joy Whitfield and William Maskall- to defend the Wyrde Woods in a battle against the netherworld.
LORD OF THE WYRDE WOODS SYNOPSIS (Two Series Novel) STATUS: COMPLETED
BOOK ONE: ESCAPE FROM NEVERLAND (published in print)
Wendy Twyner is a cynical veteran of youth care institutions. Living in a last resort ‘Home’ situated in a run-down feral council estate, she is tough and resourceful but struggles with anger management issues. A series of events bring her to the Wyrde Woods which is only a handful of miles from the council estate where she lives but might as well be a different planet. She meets locals Joy Whitfield and Willick Maskall as well as a mysterious boy called Puck and is challenged in her perceptions and given reason to hope for a different future.
BOOK TWO: DANCE INTO THE WYRD (will be published spring 2015)
Wendy learns to know and love the Wyrde Woods as well as its inhabitants, who are all connected not only by their personal relations but also by the history of their ancestors. She slowly starts to become part of the stories of the Wyrde Woods but just as Wendy comes to the discovery that she has found a real home in the Wyrde Woods the whole existence of the woods comes under a monstrous threat and Wendy needs to make some very difficult choices in order to save the woods from destruction.
CHILDREN OF THE WYRDE WOODS SYNOPSIS (NOVEL) STATUS: I wrote the last paragraph.
Je-Je Malheur spent the first six years of her life growing up on a council estate and is delighted when her parents are offered the chance to move to the edge of the Wyrde Woods. There she finds a whole new world to explore, as well as friendship and magic. In this journey of discovery she learns things about her family which she would have never expected and lands in a situation which forces her to turn to a very unlikely source of help. Armed with knowledge and new allies Je-Je faces the biggest challenge of her life, one that could change the course of history.