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
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
There are certain books I love so much, I go back into them for a visit. The characters are like friends I want to see again. The places feel so real I’m sure I’ve been there before.
My favourites for rereading are The Catch Trap by Marian Zimmer Bradley, a love story about flyers in a circus, (trapeze artists, Twilight, and of course Harry Potter. As a child I read my copy of the BFG by Roald Dahl into tatters, and the beautiful A Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson. What was it about those books that I loved? Well the characters were the main thing. When I finished them I didn’t want to say goodbye. I have been known to restart a book immediately for that reason. The world and life they took me into was pure magic, enveloping me in a completely different reality.
I’m so pleased to welcome Shelley Wilson to the Curious Mystic to talk about her new book, Oath Breaker. I was on a reading slump, and this is the book that finally broke it. It’s a great story, with werewolves, hunters, romance and lots of action. And I’m not the only one who enjoyed it. Today Shelley announced that Oath Breaker was an Official Winner in the New Apple E-Book Summer Awards 2017. I had a lovely chat and lots of laughs with Shelley, as she told me what inspired Oath Breaker, revealed insider secrets, and gave me an inkling of what’s coming next. Do click on the video below for the full chat.Read More
‘I am a purveyor of stories. I dive into the mysteries of life, into the magic of our journey, and the playfulness of the human spirit. I seek the wisdom of goddesses, animals, angels, natural oracles, crows, and humans, too.
‘My stories touch the edge of tenderness and courage.
‘I invite you to discover the vast world of the Great Lands, the Fated, my retelling of fairy tales & myths, and my original fables. I promise to explore further, deeper, wider — with a brave heart, guiding you to the edge of experience.’Read More
The results of my survey into how people read, are now in! I asked you how your imagination interacts with the process of reading, and you told me. Now I have the fascinating results for you, so please do watch the video and life you’d like more detail, check out the full results here.Read More
Kathryn Cottam is the author of the Ferrybone fantasy series which includes The Shoemaker and the forthcoming The Queen’s Cage. She is currently writing a romantic comedy series with her sister Roberta which will launch in October 2017.
On amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Kathryn-Cottam/e/B00F83PS6K
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