The Old Victiorian House of Riley

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Hello Blogland,

We have finally reached the month of July together. It’s that time again for summer heat, bathing suites and BBQ’s galore. I should say that after a bit of a turbulent first half of the year things seem to be winding down to something more enjoyable. Writing has of course come greatly into play in my life again, which has much to do with it. I will fill you all in on the latest project I have been working on. First though, I will tell you how it came into existence.

While still living in the mountains of Tennessee last September I enrolled in an Advanced belly dancers performing school. I had already danced while I’d been living in Miami for seven years and wanted to continue performing in Tennessee. The most advanced dancers had practice at the director’s giant old Victorian home.

Now I’m an urban girl through and through. I’d spent my entire life living in Miami, Fl and was used to attending studio time in giant buildings and campus dance studios. So when I arrived to a giant, old, wooden house in the woods that first night I thought I was showing up to my own slaughter.

Any normal person would have abandoned ship immediately and gone back up the dangerous mountain road to where the rest of civilization was. Call me curious or crazy but I found myself getting out of the car and walking towards the colossal Victorian home. Giant willow trees swayed from side to side around the path. They covered what little light of the fading sun was left. It was an early fall that year and the cold crept through the very fibers of my clothes. I rubbed my hands together for warmth as I walked up the front steps and came to a stop at the door.

A million different things ran through my mind.  Hansel and Gretel walking up to the witches house with all its candy and baking them for having gnawed on her drainpipes. Little red riding hood walking up to her old granny’s house to then discover it was a wolf who’d later devour her. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre removing the skin off his victims and then making masks out of them in the comfort of his basement. I was possibly offering myself up as victim if I took the next step. If I was to die, my parents would never know where I’d gone. All traces of me would disappear in these deep woods. (This last thought, mixed with the image of that old creepy house, would be the conception of the book I’d begin writing the following day). And then I did something crazy. I knocked on the front door.

Eventually an old man, followed by two growling miniature schnauzers led me down a staircase (I know!) and as I continued my decent I heard the sound of Arabic music blaring from the basement. I did not find a single torture device their. Just a bunch of dancing girls practicing an oriental routine.

I stayed for practice and left when it was pitch black out. Now pitch black in a city versus pitch black in a hooded woodland area in the backwoods of Tennessee are two completely different things. The giant old house loomed up behind me as I made my way back to the car. It was hard to see where I was walking at first until I saw something glittering amongst  the old trees. I got closer and noticed they were small white fairy lights strung up to illuminate the path in the dark.

The other girls had already left by the time I climbed back into my little Camry and drove away from the house that would mark my mind forever. I credit the fear I had when I knocked on that door the first time, the little white lights in the trees and that menacing Victorian house for the creation of my first Middle Grade Fantasy Series The Hollow Hills. Book 1: The Book of Riddles was started the following day. It is this very book series that has become my ongoing project.

What is the first book about, you ask?
Riley, a twelve year old archer, is forced to move away from her home in Florida when her father is offered a job at a wilderness research lab in the backwoods of Tennessee. She never expected to have unforeseen forces throw magical books in her direction. The pages write their own riddles, strange creatures begin to appear and her brother is stolen away by dark Fey. It’s up to her and her new companion Bannyr to bring him back before Halloween or risk losing him to the world behind the veil forever. But in the land of Faerie where all is made of gambles and trickery can she trust that Bannyr will not betray her?

It has been terribly fun, surprising and wonderful to write. I will be sending the manuscript out to literary agency’s soon and will keep you all posted on Riley’s story and the whole of my writing process here. Pictures and cool chachkies to come soon.

House Keeping:

  • Wishing all my U.S. readers a wonderful 4th of July this Thursday! Please remember to keep safe and have loads of fun.
  • I wanted to take the time to thank blogger Stacia Joy for having my blog featured on her lovely site http://sjaisling.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/july-featured-blogger-commission-winner/ for the entire month of July. It was very surprising to find a note from her in my inbox. For all of you interested in illustration, writing or a great blog in general, please check this link out and explore her beautiful world.

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