Week 41 | Favourite sub-plot

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 41

My second favourite sub-plot in The Elder Throne is the relationship between Madam Sage Begonia and Spindle Larkspur.

Madam Begonia is the Head of the Knowledge Circle and Spindle is her very enthusiastic – but incredibly messy – student there. Spindle is well known for jumping from one research topic to another without first clearing away previous work, and it drives Madam Begonia absolutely nuts. There is a constant war going on between them and it actually leads to an important discovery that relates to the main plot.

My favourite sub-plot is one I can’t share as it contains too many spoilers for The Elder Throne and for future books but I will say that it also involves Madam Begonia.

World Sight Day | Living with sight loss, trauma and decline


I was the only six-year-old I knew who could spell ‘haemorrhage’ correctly. It was a word I learned from the dictionary, reading it aloud to my mum as she wrote a letter excusing me from P.E. lessons.

For those of you who don’t know, I was born with a condition called Incontinentia Pigmenti. The condition can affect many parts of someone’s body but, for me, it most prominently affects my eyes.

It is my experience with IP and resulting symptoms that prompted me to write this post today, as well as urge everyone to regularly have their eyes checked. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) states that 80% of the world’s blind are avoidably so. This is a frightening statistic and one that we can change.

To find out more about what you can do to lower this number, please visit their website.

Bright lights and dark shadows

When I was six, I went into my mum’s bedroom, complaining of ‘lights in my eyes’. Continue reading

Week 40 |A day in the life of your villain

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 40

As I’ve mentioned, the main villain of The Elder Throne is the UnSeelie Commander Janus Atropa. Now, there are things I can’t say about her daily routine for spoiler reasons but here’s a general glimpse of how she spends her time!

Dawn Get up, bathe in icy spring water
Before breakfast Private sparring session with one of the following – Val Talloak (air magic), Moloch Penwith (earth magic), Glendunn Sludge (fire magic).


After breakfast Inspection of the troops; observation of training sessions, followed by a sparring demonstration with a squad leader picked at random – keeps everyone on their toes and emphasises her strength to new recruits.
Mid-morning Bathe and change. Reading – border patrol reports, missives from other UnSeelie cities, political updates.


After lunch Continuation of political updates; meting out justice / hearing cases
Mid-afternoon Punishments and executions from the aforementioned cases
Before dinner [redacted for spoilers]
Dinner If a public dinner – habitually taken with one of the heads of the Three Families or their heirs: Mire Blackwood; Val Talloak (of the Vale line), Arum Vale. If a ‘private’ dinner – with [redacted] or [redacted].
Before bed Private research on one of three topics: war tactics, blood magic or the New Moon legends.

There is a secondary – almost tertiary – villain mentioned above, by the name of Arum Vale. His daily routine is simple and constant, and can be summed up in two words: “plot revenge.”


Week 39 | Your book is now a film. Who is in your dream cast?

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 39

“Dream casts” aren’t really something I think about as I find it unlikely that The Elder Throne would ever be made into a film and – if it did – I doubt I would have any input in the casting decisions.

However, I’ve been honing this series for a few years now and I’d be lying if I said I’d never come across an actor and thought “They’d be perfect for XX,” if only on a purely visual level. So, although I don’t have everyone, here is the ‘Dream Cast’ for the few characters I’ve stumbled across:

Aberon3 Holly Knightshade

Aberon Gladiolus

Holly Squires Commander Knightshade Valerian
DC: Nigel Havers DC: Rachelle Lefevre

DC: Jason Isaacs

Janus.jpg Sage Leander

Commander Janus Atropa

Sage Begonia Lord Leander Goodfellow
DC: Rachel Weisz DC: Lyndie Greenwood

DC: Eddie Redmayne

Bracken Wisteria Quinlan

Lt. Fearghal Bracken

Wisteria Wisp Quinlan Marsh
DC: Bradley James DC: Dame Maggie Smith

DC: Algee Smith

Mythe Tythe Moloch

Mythe Morcant

Tythe Morcant Cpt. Moloch Penwith
DC: Nicholas Hoult DC: Ed Skrein

DC: Jason Statham

Cobb Azalea Clematis

Mrs. Cobb

Azalea Burgeon Lady Clematis
DC: Archie Panjabi DC: Nicole Beharie

DC: Anna Chancellor

Blossom Cathal Arum

Blossom Valerian (Blackwood)

Cathal Valerian Arum Vale
DC: Keri Russell DC: Chris Hemsworth

DC: Mads Mikkelson

You’ll notice that I haven’t ‘cast’ Anna, Priya, Burr or Spindle – I’m afraid they remain solely in my head for now!

Week 38 | What is your villain’s biggest regret?

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 38

The main villain of The Elder Throne is Janus Atropa, who is the Commander of the UnSeelie Court. The position makes her the de-facto ruler of the Court, as they do not have a royal family or a hereditary leadership.

Interestingly – and unusually – her predecessor was also her father, Thorne Atropa, making her the first UnSeelie to inherit Court leadership from a family member since their last (overthrown) king, Ruari.

The snag (and Janus’ biggest regret) is this: to be made the new UnSeelie Commander, competitors must kill the old one in combat.

Janus AtropaJanus killed her father in cold blood in order to take control of the army for her own ends. Having more (misplaced) affection for his daughter than she ever had for him, Thorne kept her at bay using defence moves only, not wanting to hurt her. He needn’t have worried; Janus was, by this point, a far superior fighter and the battle was over very quickly.

Janus is many things but she is not sentimental. A fierce, talented warrior who deals out death with a calculating and callous eye, she has butchered hundreds on and off the battlefield. It is a bit of an anomaly that she feels anything at all about her father’s death: it would be more accurate to say that she regrets the fact he’s dead, rather than regrets she was the one to kill him. Her last living parent and the only one she actually liked, Thorne taught Janus everything she knew, training her as a warrior despite her mother’s protests.

Respecting Thorne’s legacy and acknowledging his worth as a mentor, Janus still raises a glass of his favourite mead (which she personally despises) to him on his birthday. No one knows this but her.

Four more facts about Janus:

  • Janus is one of the New Moon Children, legendary warriors found in UnSeelie folklore – but, importantly, not found in Seelie folklore. In order to be a New Moon Child, one has to be: a) a descendent of one of the Three Families [Blackwood; Atropa; Vale]; b) conceived during the New Moon three months before their parents’ marriage and c) born during a New Moon. Legend tells that they are gifted with indomitable warrior skill – a fact that Janus proves daily.
  • One other New Moon Child exists: Commander Knightshade Valerian, through his UnSeelie mother Blossom Blackwood. Janus discovered his status when they were teenagers and delights in the fact that he is completely unaware of it, having been raised in the Seelie Court. Her hope is that he will one day fight by her side, instead of always against her.
  • Janus has battled for her continued reign as UnSeelie Commander on no fewer than seventeen occasions. Her challengers didn’t stand a chance.
  • When Janus was thirteen, she had the opportunity to save her mother Pomona from death. She deliberately chose to do nothing, such was her hatred for the unassuming, gentle woman. Janus considered her mother weak and has no regrets about this decision.

Week 37 | Which writer would you trust to finish your book if you weren’t able?

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 37

This is the trickiest question in the whole challenge.

SEBerrowI’d like to say S.E. Berrow as she is my most trusted writing partner (going on 10+ years now) but, let’s face it, she’d turn The Elder Throne into a decidedly adult book featuring Knightshade Valerian instead of a children’s series with Anna Squires at the helm. Plus, if I died, bequeathing her a potential fifteen novels to write, I wholeheartedly believe she’d resurrect me just to kill me again herself. So, that’s Berrow out of the picture.


To answer this question, therefore, I’m going to jump into the realms of fantasy and pretend I have access to all the famous children’s writers I admire. My first choice to write Elder Throne if I were not able would be… **drum roll** Derek Landy.

Why Derek Landy? Three reasons.


Firstly, he’s a fantastic children’s writer, whose stories have just the right amount of dark edges to them. If you’re not familiar with the Skulduggery Pleasant series, I highly recommend that you check it out. So that’s the first reason. Given some of the **** he’s pulled with Valkyrie and Skul, I doubt he’d have any qualms with where the Seelie Court Series is heading. I mean… what?

Secondly, Landy is Irish. Although my books are set largely in the fantasy realm of the Seelie Court, this is located in Ireland and, therefore, I feel that someone with a good background knowledge of the place could only help with that pesky ‘authenticity’ thing.

Thirdly, Derek Landy is hilarious, both on paper and in person. All children’s books should have some element of humour to them and I think he could serve up a wonderful slice of laughter in my absence. Oh, who am I kidding, he could probably write this series better than I could…

HOWEVER. He will never get the chance – even if for some mad reason he agreed to it – because I’m sticking around until these stories are told.

Week 36 | A day in the life of your protagonist

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 36

OK. So by now, everyone probably knows that my protagonist is Anna Squires, 11 year old daughter of single-mother Holly Squires. Depending on what time of year it is, Anna’s daily life differs wildly so – to avoid spoilers – I’ve chosen to write a ‘diary entry’ from her 11th birthday, just before The Elder Throne kicks off.


Woke up to Mum bouncing on my bed at 5:32am like she does every year (because that’s the time I was born). I tried shoving her off but she got under the covers to give me a cuddle and presents, so I can’t be too annoyed. Every year, she promises she’ll stop once she “forgets the pain of the twelve-hour labour” it took to have me, but I guess she hasn’t yet. To be honest, I think she’s just being a big baby. How much can it hurt if women have babies all the time?

At least today wasn’t a school day though, so I got to go back to sleep. After, obviously, I’d opened my presents, because it’s never too early for that. Mum got me my own gardening kit and a book on home science experiments that I’m going to try out with Tom. It shows you how to make volcanoes and everything! It also shows you how to make your own snowballs that don’t melt in summer, and that weird cornflour liquid that turns into a solid when you put it on speakers and play loud music. Mum says we’re not allowed to try the last one though, after Tom tried it a few months ago without clingfilm, got the mixture wrong and now owes his dad all his pocket money for the next three years. Mum loves music, she’d kill me if we ruined her speakers too!

Tom came over for breakfast (pancakes, obviously) and gave me Broot Force, which is this fantasy quest video game that everyone’s playing at school. It rained nearly all day today so we played it and got really far. You can play two-player and race to see who gets the Mystic Medallion first, but we didn’t do that because Tom’s had loads of practice with his cousin Aleandro and he knows how to cheat. Plus, it takes me a while to get used to playing a new game with one hand.

Actually, that was one weird thing that happened today. My present from Nana Janet and Granddad Billy was more of a question, really. They said they’d booked an appointment with a private doctor and said they’d pay to get me a prosthesis if I wanted one for secondary school. I’m not sure I do. I asked Mum what to say but she said it had to be my decision and no one else’s. Although she did add that if I did get  another one, I wasn’t allowed to throw it under a lorry like I did last time – I don’t think she’ll ever forgive me for that, haha, but I was two!

As great as all the other presents were, the best one came from Grandfather Abe. He sent me a book called Secrets of the Emerald Isle, which is packed full of Irish mythology and old folk stories. That was brilliant, but even better was the letter that came with it – he finally convinced Mum to let me go to Ireland with him this summer! I’m so excited, I want to pack right now. I can tell Mum isn’t too happy about it, which I guess is fair considering what happened to Dad over there, but I can’t help it. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Tom isn’t too happy either because I’m leaving him alone all summer, but he’ll manage.

Actually, that reminds me. It stopped raining in the afternoon for a bit, so we took a break from Broot Force and went to Cho’s for some cake. I had the weirdest feeling the whole time I was out, like someone was watching me and following me. Tom said I was imagining things but it was such a strong feeling. It stopped when I went home though so maybe he’s right.

Right, Mum’s calling me for dinner now – birthday bangers and mash – got to go!

Love, me