A book from another world in my handbag

It is great to challenge ourselves with new genres, and ‘We Other’ is a dark fairy thriller. According to reviewers, ‘We Other’ is a magical novel to inspire the imagination. ‘In the book you will meet faeries you would never want to meet on a dark night,’ explained, the author, Sue Bentley. Intrigued, I asked Sue to address her readers, and tell us more about her novel.

 

 

Dear Readers – I am delighted to present We Other.

In this extract we meet Jess Morgan, a loner who doesn’t fit in and has few friends. Her life is about to change in ways she could never have imagined.

I chose this extract to introduce Jess, whose story this is. She’s feisty, difficult and street-wise – with good reason – but she’s vulnerable too, with a good heart.

The reader should be tempted to place my book in their handbag because it’s a complex and rewarding read, with many twists and turns which will keep them guessing.  I’m rooting for Jess and I hope you will too, once you get to know her.

Best wishes and I hope you enjoy the extract. Happy reading!

Sue Bentley

 

Words from the book…

And then looking through the opening into the final gallery, Jess caught sight of a large painting hanging by itself. Her breath quickening with excitement, she walked rapidly towards it.

There was a small crowd of people in front of the painting. She could only glimpse details through the shifting bodies, but she knew it was the one. She hung back, wanting to prolong the moment when she stood face to face with that figure wrought from shadows. Leave me alone with it, she thought. Go away. All of you.

Oblivious to the air around her tingling and shimmering, in a way that was beginning to feel familiar, she stared at the painting. As she moved forward, time seemed to shift into slow motion. A slew of sound echoed hollow and discordant in her ears as every person standing in front of the painting turned in a single movement. They looked at Jess with glazed eyes, before drifting sideways in a single body, moving as if in the steps of some tightly choreographed dance, and melting from the gallery.

Everyone else had somehow left too, she realised. She could see people strolling around the other galleries through the archways. But here, she was alone. In the sudden stillness Jess caught her breath. The painting was revealed to her in its entirety. Or as she thought oddly, it revealed itself to her.

She was not disappointed by what she saw.

More about the book…

Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic. When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie. She is linked to a world where humans – ‘hot-bloods’ – are disposable entertainment. Life on a run-down estate – her single mum’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend – become the least of her worries. Drawn into a new world of rich darkness, she finds herself torn between love, family and a growing sense of a new, powerful identity.

Strapline for the book – Fairies you never want to meet on a dark night.

What the reviewers say…

‘Darkly delicious. Lights the blue touch paper and runs away.’ Peter J Goodchild

‘Absolutely magical. Compelling story and gorgeous writing.’  Freda Warrington – award winning author of 21 fantasy novels

‘Give yourself time. You won’t want to put this down.’ Ruth Webster

More about Sue…

Sue Bentley is fascinated by English Folklore, the extraordinary in the everyday and the darkness that hovers at the edges of the light.

Sue says…

Louis Armstrong says it best – ‘the bright blessed day and the dark sacred night’ You can’t have one without the other.

I always enjoyed ‘real’ fairy tales – not the sanitised Disney versions. For example, in some versions of Cinderella – the ugly sisters snip off their toes to be able to cram their feet into the glass slipper.

I was that kid in a class of pink tutus who was dressed as a vampire bat. I never wanted high-heeled dancing shoes, I wanted sturdy boots to go tramping around forests looking for the shapes of goblins in the trees.

As for characters – Goody, Goody is all very well, but it can get boring. We all love the ‘bad’ characters who do doubtful things – they’re much more fun to write about.

I am intrigued by Sue’s exploration of the ‘darkness that hovers on the edge of light’ and wonder what she presents to the reader in ‘We Other’.  The extract evoked my imagination, and I wanted to know why Jess ‘wasn’t disappointed’.  This novel sounds as if it will challenge the boundaries of the imagination, as it has done for the reviewers.

 

Please see all my extracts at Book Extracts and my blog at jessiecahalin.com.

 

The Book, the Author and the Magic

Post from Sue Bentley via another world

Over Christmas, I received a letter marked with a lion’s head stamp.  The letter had been signed ‘Word Sorceress’. Author, Sue Bentley sent a mysterious letter to Reader Recommends.  She had also enclosed photos of:  a lion, a wardrobe, three children and a winter scene. This children’s author lives in a dark, fantasy forest, and often wears very glamorous Dr Marten boots. I was suspicious that the door to Sue’s writing room looks like the wardrobe leading to Narnia. Intrigued, I wanted to visit Sue’s writing world to find out more.

Is this the door to Sue’s writing world?

I passed my handbag to Sue, and she placed a classic tale inside.  Snowfall concealed my handbag, but I followed the footprints into Sue’s magical world. On my adventure into Narnia, I hoped to discover how she came to write children’s books and young adult fantasy fiction.

You will need to tread ‘on the edge of darkness’ as you read Sue’s words.

 

 

Midwinter and Magic

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis.

Lion personifying all things brave and true

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe captivated me from the moment I read it, aged about ten. Always winter but never Christmas, talking animals, a wicked witch, a fight against good and evil, a Lion personifying all things brave and true. Wow! You can write about things other than the everyday? It doesn’t have to be a school setting or a pony club drama? This was pure magic and it spoke directly to me. In that moment I became an author – if only in my mind.

Years later I began writing books for adults, collecting a drawer full of publishers’ rejections slips. It took longer to learn how to write quality fiction that I expected. Meanwhile my agent thought I’d be good at writing for children. This didn’t prove an easier option, as I’d foolishly imagined, but I stuck at it. She was proved right. My books for younger children have been translated into over 20 languages and continue to sell worldwide. Not surprisingly they often feature magical animals and fairies.

Always winter but never Christmas

My enduring love of snow and winter also stems from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. The shapes of trees sketched against a snow-clouded sky. The fresh linen smell of icy air.  Wonderful.  I enjoy reading books set in winter as well as writing them, while looking out of my workroom window onto a bleak landscape.

I’ve just finished reading The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper – set during snow-bound mid-winter and teeming with English Folkore. There was a readathon on Twitter, over this mid-winter and up to Twelfth Night. Reading the book in like-minded company was a wonderful and totally magical event, which has prompted lots of ideas for future novels.

After around 70 titles for children, I’m again writing for adults. In We Other, my recent fantasy novel, one of the most important events takes place in snowbound mid-winter. We Other could be described as an adult fairy tale. It’s darker and more complex than anything I’ve ever written, with many twists and turns. It’s territory I’m enjoying. I plan to stay there for a while! If it snows tonight, all the better…

More about Sue…

I would like to introduce you to an author who is supportive, full of fun and has a magical presence.  Author, Sue Bentley, adds sparkle and magic to children’s books and young fantasy, with her unique perspective.  Using her wand, she explores another world and adds glittering enchantment.

Meet the young Sue who discovered: You can write about things other than the everyday?

Indeed, she has sprinkled her enchanting magical vision on over 70 children’s stories. But she does venture into the darkness with her young adult fiction. We Other was her first venture into young adult fiction. 

Sue Bentley is fascinated by English Folklore, the extraordinary in the everyday and the darkness that hovers at the edges of the light.

Recently, Sue has been missing, as she has been penning her second novel for young adults.  The title of her second novel is Second Skin. Apparently, Aledra, the main character, belongs to a conquering race of shape-shifters, who are hated by the native people.  The new novel is very different to We Other, but it is sure to charm the readers.

The collaboration on this blog post commenced when Sue agreed to add a book into my Reader Recommends gallery.  I have invited all readers to share the book which inspired their reading journey.  Readers can send me a photo of the inspirational book, in their handbag, with twenty words.

Sue says…

Louis Armstrong says it best – ‘the bright blessed day and the dark sacred night’ You can’t have one without the other.

I always enjoyed ‘real’ fairy tales – not the sanitised Disney versions. For example, in some versions of Cinderella – the ugly sisters snip off their toes to be able to cram their feet into the glass slipper.

I was that kid in a class of pink tutus who was dressed as a vampire bat. I never wanted high-heeled dancing shoes, I wanted sturdy boots to go tramping around forests looking for the shapes of goblins in the trees.

As for characters – Goody, Goody is all very well, but it can get boring. We all love the ‘bad’ characters who do doubtful things – they’re much more fun to write about.

 

Please see all my Guests’ posts at Mail from the Creative Community and my website and blog at JessieCahalin.com.