We’ve all been to places where the land speaks to us. Places of great harmony, where the air and the view and the lie of the land combine in some sort of perfect alchemy to fill us with joy. Or places of darkness where the land holds melancholy, seeming to echo still with cries of pain, ancient battles or tragedies leaving their mark. And still other places, where nothing of note is recorded as having happened, yet they strike a chill into our bones and we cannot get away fast enough.
Our ancestors seemed to understand this energy far more than we do now. You only have to visit an ancient site to feel it, the way the stones are situated, echoing and in line with the landscape around them, set to catch the rising of the sun and the turning of the stars. It all seems in perfect harmony, and there is a stillness there that seems to find a home in the human soul, a small space of peace.
On my weekend away with The Silent Eye this past September, I had some wonderful and disturbing experiences in the landscapes we visited. I cannot explain any of it other than to say that I felt the energy of each place, and that those feelings were corroborated by others in the group. There was power in those ancient landscapes, joy, warmth, sorrow and fear, held within the stones and earth and trees, and I was not the only one in our group to feel it. Perhaps when we step away from the modern world, as we did then, walking among the heather and bracken and ancient stones of a people long departed, we become more aware. Without the modern trappings of phone and television and buildings, we rely a little more on our instincts.
I never was much good at physics, but one rule did stick with me – that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred. As human beings we are powered by energy, our bodies furnaces transforming food into motion, oxygen into breath, a thousand chemical reactions taking place each moment to keep us alive. There is energy in emotion too – we’ve all felt the power of love, or hatred, or sorrow. So it makes sense to me that we leave some small part of ourselves in the places we inhabit; that as we work and walk and live upon the earth, we transfer some of that energy to our surroundings.
In my Ambeth books there are characters with the gift of being able to feel energy in the land. Sensing where imbalance lies and, in some instances, with the ability to heal places that have been damaged. Such powers are not totally outside the realm of reality – after all, do we not consecrate land on which a place of worship is to be built, or bodies buried? Do we not put energy into creating a home that feels uniquely our own? The earth itself is a living organism, energy held in the earth and rocks, in the plants and trees, below the surface where molten rock glides. It is in the volcano’s thrust, or the dead plants we dig up and burn, releasing their energy to power our machines. Energy is everywhere that we are.
And so perhaps these feelings, these voices in the land, are remnants of an old system of defence we no longer need, cushioned as we are by 24-hour news and access at the swipe of a screen. Perhaps they are all that is left of a time when we had to rely on our instincts to survive, helping us find places that are safe, avoid those where danger or sorrow occur, respect those that are sacred. Perhaps it is also a reminder that we are inextricably linked to and part of this world – a reminder we have good cause to heed.
The thought of finding magic in ordinary places is one that I love; the idea that just stepping off the path could take you somewhere unexpected. It’s part of what inspires my writing. When I was a child I did find a strange valley and hear a scream – the incident stayed with me and was the starting point of the Ambeth Chronicles.
I’ve lived around the world, Toronto, Vancouver, Melbourne, Sydney, but started life in Coventry, England. A couple of years ago I moved back to my native England and, once settled, started to write about Ambeth. The name ‘Ambeth’ comes from the Welsh ‘am byth’, which means forever, a nod to my Welsh family background and the fact that for me, Wales is my heart home.
Ambeth is not the only world I plan to visit in my books, but it’s where I am now. When I’m not writing, I like to walk, paint and study karate (when housework and family life permit!) Life has been a journey to get me to this point but I can honestly say I’ve lived it and am grateful for every day.
Oak and Mist
Alma Bevan didn’t mean to go on a quest.
But when she disappears between two trees at her local park and reappears in Ambeth, she finds they’ve been expecting her.
And now she has to find a lost sword or the consequences for humanity will be dire. With no idea where to look, despite help from her new friend Caleb, things become even more complicated when a handsome prince of the Dark expresses an interest in her.
All this plus homework too?
Travelling between worlds is hard enough without having to manage a suspicious best friend, complicated love interests and concerned parents. Add in some time-twisting, a mysterious bracelet and a group of immortal beings all vying for control of a lost sword, and it’s enough to make any fifteen year old girl want to give up. But then she wouldn’t see Caleb any more. Or Deryck…
‘Alma, even I do not know what he is capable of…’
Things couldn’t be better for Alma. She’s returned the lost Sword to Ambeth and is finally with Deryck, Prince of the Dark. But what’s really going on?
Deryck is struggling with his father, who wants to control Alma, while Alma is struggling with her best friend Caleb, who doesn’t trust Deryck one inch. Plus it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with her life in the human world.
Falling in love shouldn’t be this difficult. But things are about to get much worse…
Quests and friendship all fall by the wayside when there’s romance to be had. Plus, spending time with handsome Deryck is much more appealing than with an increasingly angry Caleb. The Light are always on about making choices, so they shouldn’t have a problem with her choosing to be with Deryck.
Besides, he’ll protect her from his father – won’t he?
Hills and Valleys
Sometimes things call to us until we can no longer ignore them. And Ambeth is calling you, Alma.’
After the events of the Harvest Fair, Alma is finished with Ambeth – they can find the missing Cup and Crown without her. But Ambeth is not finished with her. First the mystery of her dead father comes back to haunt her, then the Dark reach out, hoping to trap her once more.
And then there’s the strange power she seems to have…