Saturday, 21 July 2018

Jedket's Elf-harp

Jedket's Elf-harp: Object Post 48

Source? It grew in a cave in Mirryam
Significance? It was one of the unique items Lilly needed to prove Mirryam was a separate entity
Fate? It is still in the cave
Author’s inspiration? I’ve seen some breathtaking rock formations in caves
First appearance? Lilly of Mirryam

'This is an elf-harp, Lilly. Listen.'
Do you believe in magic?
Do you believe in politics?
Can you believe in both?
The pocket-kingdom of Mirryam was a happy place, until Duke Bezzal from neighbouring Bellover comes up with the extraordinary suggestion that he is annexing Mirryam. His excuse? It’s entirely surrounded by Bellover and, as such, is clearly part of Bellover and should be brought back into the fold. An independent ruling say that if Mirryam can establish it has something greater Bellover doesn’t have, then it can be declared independent. The hunt is on.
One of the possibilities floated by Princess Lillianda is the elf-harp her friend Jedket showed her.

'It's something special,' said Jedket. 'Come and see.'
It wasn't quite dark in the tunnel, for a small arrow of light shone down through a cleft in the rocks. Lilly could dimly see her dusty hands and feet, but she was hardly interested in looking at herself. Instead, she peered down through the glow to where the light-arrow shone straight into a veil of glimmering crystal.
She gasped aloud at the beauty of the thing. 'It looks like some kind of musical instrument,' she said. 'Perhaps a lyre, or a fiddle...' She gazed at the curving triangle, strung across with shimmering crystal threads as fine as gossamer.
Jedket smiled, and his skin shone green in the strange light. 'This is an elf-harp, Lilly. Listen.' He touched the crystal threads and music rang from under his fingertips like moonlight on water.
Lilly stretched up to touch the bright strings for herself, but Jedket flung up his arm to hold her back. 'No, Lilly, the wrong touch could break it like the first of the winter ice. If it broke it would never sing again.'
'You touched it.'
'I know how,' he said. 'If you want to play it you can try blowing gently across the strings.'
Lilly blew, and the silvery ghost of music shivered across the harp. 'It's beautiful,' she said. 'You play again.'
She listened, entranced, as Jedket drew more music from the crystal strings. She felt she could listen all day, but then she remembered, abruptly, that Mirryam's fate was being decided outside.

The elf-harp seems the perfect proof, but when Lilly tries to display it, it proves elusive…

'Come along, Your Highness,' said Florrin. 'Show me the elf-harp.'
'It's not quite here,' said Lilly. 'It's up at the other entrance.'
Ignoring the mutters from the Belloverians, Lilly clambered back up to the flatlands above the main caverns. It took some time for the others to follow her, and when they were all gathered on the smooth green turf there was hardly room for anyone to move. It was lucky that Jedket had taken Fayfayre away.
Lilly edged through the trees to the tunnel entrance. 'It's in there!' she said.
The duke was close behind her, and he clicked his tongue impatiently at the sight of the narrow tunnel, but Florrin knelt and peered down into the hole. 'I'm afraid I can't see anything,' she said.
The duke sniffed. 'Salt,' he said. 'Rock salt. We have any amount of that in Bellover.'
'You have to climb in and creep along a little way...' Lilly's voice wavered as she realised that the tunnel was a tight fit for herself and Jedket. Florrin was taller than either of them and would find it difficult to get inside. 'Anyway,' she said, 'if you call out "hello" and make an echo, you'll hear the music from the harp. You don't have to see it to know it's something special.'
'This is some sort of trick,' said Duke Bezzal. 'Have you got some village bumpkin down there with a tin whistle?'
'There's no-one down there now,' said Lilly.
Florrin ignored the duke. 'Hello?' she called softly.
'O-o-o-o?' The echo was there all right, but it was an ordinary echo.
'Wait a moment...' Lilly slipped back into the tunnel. Although Jedket had gone, she knew where to find the elf-harp crystal. 'I'll show you,' she called back softly over her shoulder. 'I can blow across the stings and you will hear the music.'
Bending low, she hurried along the tunnel, her sandals scuffing through the chips of rock-salt. 'It's in here,' she added, but it was not. The sunshaft shone down on a bone-coloured knob of rock-salt.
Lilly's feet crunched along the tunnel until her reaching fingers touched the smooth dead end. She licked her fingers, tasting salt. This was indeed the end of the way. Sadly, she retreated into the light.

It took a while before Lilly understood what was going on.

Princess Lillianda, Jedket and the elf-harp appear in Lilly of Mirryam







ABOUT THE BLOG



Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)



The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!

Friday, 20 July 2018

Joseph McKenzie's Dear John Letter

Joseph McKenzie's Dear John Letter: Object Post 47

Source? Written by Dorothy O’Riley to let Joseph know she’d married someone else
Significance? It knocked all Joseph’s plans for six and ruined his trust in women
Fate? He crumpled it and threw it away at Park Street station
Author’s inspiration? It was a convenient way to have Joseph at a loose end after the war
First appearance? Heather & Heath

Dear Joey...

Joseph McKenzie returned from France in 1919 expecting to meet his fiancĂ©e, Dorothy O’Riley, at Park Street station. When she wasn’t waiting for him, he assumed it was her habitual unpunctuality although after years apart it seemed a bit much…

A flotilla of hats and frocks brought him hope, for Dorothy always wore clothes of the latest mode, but the eyes met his unrecognisingly, and the ladies passed him by. Mothers and fathers were there, grandparents, frail and joyful. Envious schoolboy brothers, worshipful sisters ... at last there was only a handful of people left on the platform and Joseph had to accept that she had not come. But maybe she was ill? Or perhaps her father's car had refused to start. He wondered if old man O'Riley still had the same Humber; it had never been reliable. Well, he would go to her, and they would laugh over the silly circumstances which had kept her from the station. And perhaps a less public reunion would be more satisfactory, after all.
Joseph shouldered his kit bag and turned towards the exit of the station, but a porter was approaching with a letter in his hand. 'Excuse me, sir, was you expecting a Miss O'Riley?'
Joseph nodded with relief and took the letter. Some silly little circumstance ... He slit the envelope with an impatient thumb and read the single sheet through.
Dear Joey...
He read it again. His hand slowly crumpled the page and he tossed it away into the darkness.

We never find out exactly how Dorothy worded the letter, but the content is revealed during Joseph’s introspection on a train…

It was a new day in a new year. A bitter young man in a well-worn uniform was reading the newspaper in the north-bound train, simply for something to do. It was not his own newspaper; it had been left on the seat by some passenger who had disembarked at the last station. Joseph McKenzie was not looking for anything in particular, for there was nothing to interest him in Tasmania now. Dorothy O'Riley had found and married a better prospect some months before; married him while her betrothed crouched in a trench in France re-reading her few letters and creasing her photograph a little more each time he removed it from his pack. She hadn't even bothered with the formality of a 'Dear John' letter until he had already returned.
 
So, there it was. She’d never been much of a letter writer, after all.

Joseph and his Dear John letter appear in Heather & Heath.








ABOUT THE BLOG



Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)



The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Grandad Pickle's Book

Grandad Pickle's Book: Object Post 46

Source? Grandad Pickle probably got it from the Copper Creek Newsagency. Or maybe Polly did.
Significance? The Book was where Grandad Pickle wrote down all his famous pickle recipes...except for one.
Fate? No doubt the Book is now under a glass case in the Pickle Palace Museum at Copper Creek.
Author’s inspiration? Where else would one write down special recipes in the 1930s?
First appearance? The Powerful Pickle Problem

The Book was a heavy volume, with a green leather cover and gold-edged pages. The first thirty pages were filled with Grandad Pickle's spiky handwriting. Recipes for conserves, recipes for preserves. Recipes for pickles. Every pickle that Grandad Pickle had ever made - except one. Powerful Pickle! The Book had once been kept at the Pickle Palace, but Miss Watts had copied out the contents and put them in a proper filing system.

Grandad Pickle was Anne and Robert's name for Fred Appleby, their grandfather, who is
the brains and expertise behind Copper Creek's famous pickles. The story goes that Polly, Fred's wife, was trying to make pickles and being unsuccessful. Fred took a hand and turned out to be a pickle-magician. Soon his pickles were in high demand. There were Plain Pickles, Princely Pickles, Creamy Conserve, Popular Pickles, Particular Pickles and a long list of others. Soon he has a small team working on production and innovation. Fred wrote down the new-minted recipes in The Book, as described above. It's probably not a coincidence the The Book is green with gold-edged pages and so much bear a family resemblance to the one Amy Day has in Amy Amaryllis. I only just realised that, three decades on. Both books derive from one I had as a child. 
In any case, Fred wrote down all his recipes except for one; Powerful Pickles, the most startling of the lot. That recipe he kept locked away in his fertile brain... until he fell off Bess the pony and knocked the precious information somewhere north of the Milky Way. 
Once the memory was recovered, Fred wrote it down in The Book...and locked it away. One hopes he didn't forget where he kept the key.
The Book appears in The Powerful Pickle Problem.



ABOUT THE BLOG



Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)



The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Timbre Merriweather's Music Ring

Timbre Merriweather's Music Ring: Object Post 45

Source? Amalie de Courcy got it from Merryn Pendennis to give to  Tim
Significance? Timbre is a year younger than Amalie; this is her promise that she’ll wait for him.
Fate? Tim wears it and plays with it in moments of introspection or stress.
Author’s inspiration? It seemed the obvious thing for her to do
First appearance? Man Overboard

“Clear as mud,” Tom said. He waited expectantly, but Timbre was quiet, twisting the silver kissing ring, adorned with an unsettling pattern of musical notes, that he wore on his wedding finger.
“You okay, Tim? Yourself, I mean?”

Like his mother, Ryl, Timbre Merriweather fell in love hard and early.  He was sixteen when he fell for Mistress Amalie de Courcy, Ryl’s ward. She was seventeen and so, by fay standards, she would be an adult a year earlier than Tim. He loved her but his discomfort at the thought of her finding someone else was such that she took matters into her own capable hands and had Merryn Pendennis make him a kissing ring. Tim was soothed, knowing this meant she would wait for him to follow her into what, by fay parlance, was termed "enough years". His parents weren’t exactly pleased, but as his father Tom put it, they couldn’t exactly complain when Ryl had been even younger. And who said young love didn't last? Over thirty years after their first meeting, Ryl and Tom have never regretted it for even a moment. 





ABOUT THE BLOG



Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)



The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Olive Greenhand's Ogre-boat

Olive Greenhand's Ogre-boat: Object Post 44

Source? Olive’s grandmother Ogma the Bold made it.

Significance?  It gives Olive the freedom of the bay

Fate? Olive still has it

First Appearance? Pearl the Flying Unicorn

Author's Inspiration? A broad-beamed boat I once had.



Olive’s ogre-boat looked like a toy from up high. Olive and Tweet were singing as they rowed along.
 
Row, row your ogre-boat 

Gently in the sea, 
Ogrely, ogrely, ogrely, ogrely 
Lots of nosh for tea.'

Olive loved her ogre-boat, which was a kind of coracle bent into shape by the powerful hands of her grandmother, Ogma the Bold.  It was broad in the beam, which meant Olive's considerable weight (and the weight of any passenger and any bag of snacks she had aboard) failed to disconcert it. Olive paddled it along with someone's spare shovel. She liked to sing and bop about while she paddled, so the ogre-boat bobbed and jiggled as it went.
The ogre-boat was painted a cheerful pink, because Olive thought it stood out. Like most ogre girls, Olive loved to be noticed and she and her ogre-boat certainly made a splash.
Olive and her ogre-boat appear in Pearl the Flying Unicorn




ABOUT THE BLOG



Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)



The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!

Monday, 16 July 2018

Alia Singh's Fuzzy Video




Alia Singh's Fuzzy Video: Object Post 43

Source? Alia taped it from TV
Significance? It was the beginning of Project Taff
Fate? By now, Alia and Jules would be grown-ups, but it’s just possible Alia still keeps it for sentimental reasons
Author’s inspiration? I’ve seen my share of fuzzy videos…
First appearance? Court in the Act

On a rainy winter Saturday Alia Singh and Jules Raven got together in Alia's rumpus room to watch a fuzzy video about a signing chimp.
Alia turned on the ancient television and pushed a video into the VCR. She hit the 'Play' button by hand, because the remote didn't work any more, then sat cross-legged on the floor to await results.
Three white lines appeared on the television screen.
“Haven't you had it fixed yet?” asked Jules.
“Nope,” said Alia, “it's unfixable, Jamal says.”
More white lines fizzed across the screen, and they waited patiently.
“There,” said Alia, “the good bit's starting now. Watch that chimp. Oh blast, it's rolling again.”
Jules got up and fiddled with the TV, trying to steady the picture, but it wasn't much good.
 
It was the subject of the video rather than its fuzziness that was the point, because watching a signing chimp got this inquisitive and inventive pair thinking about animal-to-human communication. Alia opined it was unfair that the animal had to do all the work. How much better if she learned to communicate like an animal!
Their efforts led to limited success and also to a frightening courtroom where their bacon was saved by an unexpected advocate.
Alia, Jules and the fuzzy video appear in Court in the Act.






ABOUT THE BLOG



Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)



The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Mish Verhoven's Popcorn Ring.

Mish Verhoven's Popcorn Ring. Object Post 42

Source? Guy Popplewell obtained it from Meryrn Pendennis with Tom Merriweather acting as his proxy
Significance? Guy admired Ryl’s ring and wanted something similarly unique for his girlfriend
Fate? The popcorn ring is still on Mish’s finger. She wears it all the time.
Author’s inspiration? Mish and Guy are one of my favourite subsidiary pairings and I wanted to look at the way fay influence spreads through the human society.
First appearance? The Kissing Ring


Popcorn Guy got up and fidgeted.
“What?”
“Um. You know that ring your girl wears?”
 “What about it?”
“It’s kinda—I dunno…I want to get something like that for Mish, and there’s this bloke who goes around the markets selling silver jewellery. I want to see what he’s got.”
Tom gazed after Popcorn Guy as he headed across the market. It would be too odd if Merryn Pendennis was there in rural Tasmania.
He wasn’t, it seemed. Popcorn Guy came back wrinkling up his expressive snub nose. “Cheap imported junk. Guess you won’t tell me where you got that one for Ryl?”
“A place called Treborrow,” Tom said.
“Never heard of it.”
“Not many people around here have. Tell you what, give me your number and next time I’m there I’ll see what he’s got. He goes around the markets in Victoria. What are you after?”
“A ring.”
“Friendship ring? Engagement ring?”
“Hold on a bit…not going that far. I just want something nice for my girl. Something you won’t see on other girls. Something special.”
Tom explained, “When I got Ryl’s ring, the jeweller had me tell him about her. If you’re serious about this, write down stuff you think about Mish and stick it in an envelope. Seal it if you like. I’ll give it to the jeweller and hand him your number. He might get in touch and then you can do your deal. He does one-offs, and he’s more likely to ask you for a favour than money.”
“What kind of favour?”
“Nothing illegal or immoral. Sort of a pass-it-on kindness maybe. That’s what he asked me to do. His name’s Merryn Pendennis.”
“Can you give me his number?”
“He’s not on the phone. Lives way out…no electricity, even. Not even near a Post Office.”
“Okay. I’ll go with that. Got some paper?”
“No. Give it to me next time.”
 “Thanks, Tommy. I’ll owe you one.”

Guy Popplewell was one of the tutors at the tech college where Michelle “Mish” Verhoven studied. She wasn’t in his course, but he used to see her around and one day he encountered her at the cinema with her ex-boyfriend-turned-platonic-pal. He invited her for popcorn and they didn’t return. Some time later, Guy and Mish, Tom and his new love Ryl Skipton went to a market, where the above scene takes pace.
Somewhat to Tom’s surprise, Guy did follow-up and he faithfully delivered the information.
Mish and Ryl became good friends, and later Mish telephoned Ryl, who told Tom about it…

And by the way, she telephoned and told me he’d given her a silver ring that spells out popcorn. Does that have anything to do with you?”
“Just a bit.” Then Tom told her about his conversation with Popcorn Guy at the market.
“But when did you see Master Pendennis to arrange this?”
“I didn’t. I gave the envelope to Oison, and he promised to take it to Treborrow. Obviously, he did.”
“And if your Mish knew her old boyfriend had told her new lover about a pisky man who is sometimes a dog and had given the necessary information to a leppy gossoon to deliver so she could get the nicest present she’s ever had, what do you think she’d say?”
“I have no idea. And she isn’t my Mish. She never was.”

Years later, Timbre, youngest son of Tom and Ryl, mentioned he’d been talking to “Mish Popcorn” while visiting his grandfather who still lived in Tom’s old hometown. Given the nickname, it’s clear Mish and Guy are still together, and Mish is still wearing her popcorn ring.


ABOUT THE BLOG


Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)


The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Poodle McAllister’s Kennel


Poodle McAllister’s Kennel. Object Post 41

Source? Bought or possibly built especially for Poodle when she was young
Significance? The kennel was a symbol of her importance
Fate? Ultimately, Poodle ended up sharing it with Ace
Author’s inspiration? I wanted something that was both a prized belonging and something that could be shared
First appearance? The Haunting of Ace

It was that long-legged pup, tucked up in the straw in my kennel…

Poodle McAllister was a small dog of mixed breed and great personality. She was getting a bit stiff in the mornings, but then, she wasn’t young. One day she forgot herself and chased a motorbike.
After that, things changed for Poodle. She felt young again, but despite her best efforts no one patted her anymore. Then her family made the ultimate betrayal; they obtained a leggy setter pup and installed him in her kennel!
Poodle was furious, but then she found the pup moping and lonely, so she joined him…
After all, it was my kennel!
Poodle got used to having a room mate and so did young Ace. He was soon devoted to Poodle, even if she was a bit see-through!

Poodle McAllister, her kennel and young Ace appear in The Haunting of Ace

ABOUT THE BLOG


Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)


The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!