Twelve-year-old Annie is invited to Hexer Hall to work as a servant for the mysterious Lady Hexer. Carvings of snakes are everywhere and when Annie touches one, she travels back in time to when the Hall was a leper hospital run by a sinister doctor with a collection of terrifying serpents. Annie never wants to return, but Lady Hexer demands she finds a way to steal the doctor’s book of magical cures. She promises it will rid the world of disease, including tuberculosis, which killed Annie’s mother. Summoning all her courage, Annie travels back in time again … The Serpent House is aimed at Middle Grade age children, although I loved reading it as an adult too. What inspired you to write a time slip? The story of The Serpent House actually came about because of the place where I live, which is called Spittal. It got its name from a medieval leper hospital which used to be there. It fascinated me that somewhere under the pavements where I walk every day, there are the remains of this hospital. I also wanted to write something in a sort of tribute to my three great-aunts, who were maids and cooks in large houses in Newcastle and Cumbria at the turn of the twentieth century. So a timeslip idea linked the two periods together – the Victorian maid Annie was able to travel back to the medieval leper hospital. Also, I really love timeslip novels – Tom’s Midnight Garden is one of my all-time favourite children’s books. The more timeslip novels I read, the more exciting I realised they could be. Why did you choose to write about leprosy? It started with that local history about the leper hospital that used to be in the village where I live, but when I did research I realised it was not really covered often in children’s historical fiction (unlike the plague, which is covered quite a lot!). Although leprosy has died out in the west, it’s still a problem in developing countries. The charity Lepra helped me a lot with my research. What do the plants that start to take over the garden mean? Are they actually from the past? Yes! I was very inspired by a visit to a medieval herb garden in France and I realised that lots of the plants had snake-like names and qualities. So I wanted them to start creeping up into the garden to show how the past was beginning to encroach, from under the foundations of Hexer Hall and its grounds. It was meant to show how the past was beginning to take a bit of a stranglehold on the primary time of 1899. In the past, the doctor uses snakes in an attempt to ‘cure’ his patients. Is this something that happened, and if not, where did you get the idea? Yes – snake venom was used a lot in medieval cures, including for leprosy. It’s such a well-used medicine that you see snakes on the …
I’m an Austrian lass—totally uncomplicated and up to anything fun. I grew up in Vienna – not by free will but because my parents decided to move there when I was only 4 years old. I. Hated. The. City. Everything about it. So right after graduation I moved back to the country side, where I settled down with a nice husband and an awesome laptop. (The laptop came first!} I’ve been a storyteller all my life. Already in kindergarten, I came up with the most exotic fantasies and tales. My teacher back then called me a liar. Today, I call it the cornerstone of my writing career.Read More
A mythmaker at heart, Sandra Hurst has been writing poetry, fantasy and science fiction since her school days in England. Hurst moved to Canada in 1980 and was deeply influenced by the wild lands and the indigenous cultures that surrounded her. Y’keta, her first full length novel, is set in a mythical land reminiscent of pre-historic earth. An ancient world where legends walk and the Sky Road offers a way to the stars. A member of the Alexandra Writers Centre Society, the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, and The Mythopoeic Society, Hurst works to build fantasy worlds that allow her readers to join her in exploring the depths of human interaction in a mythical game of ‘what if.’ Her first novel, Y’keta is long-listed for the prestigious Aurora Award, for best Canadian fantasy novel (Young Adult) and the American based RONE award for break out fantasy novel. She now lives in Calgary, Alberta with her husband and son, both of whom she loves dearly, and has put up for sale on e-bay when their behaviour demanded it.Read More
The castle in A Thin Slice of Heaven is fabulously atmospheric. As someone who picks up the energy of buildings, it really ‘felt’ like a real creepy castle. Is it based on a real place? And if so, how much did the place inspire your story?
Thank you for having me here today, Martha! I am a huge fan of your work. While researching my ancestry, I made several trips to my ancestral home at Glencull, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The area inspired the village in A Thin Slice of Heaven as well as the castle. The potato famine was inspired by a visit to the Ulster American Folk Park and Museum at Omagh, County Tyrone. Whenever I visit Ireland, I feel the energy and history there almost as if I am being transported into the past. It is truly a magical and mystical country.Read More
In Neverland you look at the story of Peter Pan, from a very different perspective, casting Captain Hook, or Jamie, as the romantic lead. What gave you the idea?
Martha, you know me. 😉 Nothing gave me the idea, actually. In fact, it was someone. Jamie Hook himself. I’m telling you and your reader this, because I know you’ve got experience with energies and will understand when I tell you that I sort of channelled the story. The idea, the characters, the book. And it wasn’t on purpose, either. It was in a moment when I watched Peter Pan with my son a long time ago that suddenly one very charismatic and insisting energy tapped on my shoulder.
Writing always happens like that for me. I don’t just invent stories. I always wait for the moment when a great energy out there stops by and says hi. They feel almost as real to me, as the person next to you feels to you. I get their thoughts and intentions in form of emotions and images in my head. James Hook—the one I wrote about—is a character in a different dimension, if you like to look at it that way. And he broadcasted his story on a frequency that connected with my reception. I was a tremendously lucky girl that he chose me to tell his story.Read More
Today we have our last giveaway, a signed copy (?) of award-winning Werewolf novel, Oathbreaker, from author Shelley Wilson. Shelley is a bit of a superwoman penning both exciting YA fiction and bestselling, motivational self-help books. She has also just landed a fabulous, 10 book publishing contract with ….. and an Apple fiction award. I really loved Oathbreaker and it flew onto my kindle just when it was needed, at a moment when I couldn’t find anything I liked.Read More
Today I have linked up with fantasy author and inspirational speaker Kate Tremills to offer a signed copy of Messenger, the first book in her Great Lands Series. Kate Tremills writes beautiful and spiritual novels that explore far-off worlds, mythology, and even modern day Manhattan. But now she is also traveling in a new direction and bringing us wonderful inspirational ideas and teachings on creativity. Creativity is something Kate knows a lot about, from her novel writing, to her time as magazine writer, to her L.A. screenwriting career. She has approached the process from every angle and has a wealth of information and encouragement to share.Read More
Today I have linked up with gothic author, editor and screenwriter, Kathryn Cottam, to give away two signed paperbacks. The first is The Shoemaker, a dark, gothic retelling of the Elves and the Shoemaker. As a bonus, Kathryn is also giving away Three Tales of Red, a short story collection that explores red riding hood from three perspectives, Red Riding Hood, the wolf and the huntsman. This is written by Kathryn, Roberta Cottam and Kate Tremills. Not all fairytales are cute and cuddly. Kathryn writes intense, gothic fairytales that are definitely for grown-ups.Read More
Christmas is a time for giving and connecting, so this week I have a wonderful Christmas giveaway for you, that spans both my Facebook Pages, The Story Cave and The Curious Mystic. For four days this week, I will offer one giveaway. On three of the days there will be a signed book from my wonderful collaborators, Kate Tremills, Kathryn Cottam, and Shelley Wilson, who recently won an Apple Award for her YA story, Oathbreaker. On the other day I will offer a free half hour tarot reading with me, which will be done over Zoom. If you would like to find out more about my Tarot readings, please do check out my Services section, and some of the general readings in my blog.Read More
A guest post by Rom Com author Beth Good.
Christmas, falling at midwinter, is the time of year most associated with magic. Midwinter is the darkest time, the cold drawing inexorably in – ‘Winter is coming!’ as George RR Martin eerily puts it in Game of Thrones – that we as human beings have been conditioned over millennia to fear. Yet the dark is traditionally a friend to magic. Night was once a blessed cover for witches whose activities might otherwise have led to their deaths if undertaken during daylight hours. Many spells and rituals need to be performed at night. And while the dark of the moon is often considered a time for potent or dangerous magic, it’s also a moment when we can pause for reflection, seeking within for spiritual sustenance. Planting seeds and waiting for them to grow.Read More