Novels for Children
It seems funny now, but I never even considered writing novels for children until I took an online course on it. I thought you had to know what it’s like to be a child now, with all the current issues and preoccupations, and up with the latest trends. However, what that course taught me, above all else, was that children still love fantasy stories — they never go out of fashion or off trend.
My first attempt at a children’s story was a 1,000 word tale for a competition, which turned into what is currently a 2-book series but with the potential for more stories to be added to it (coming soon). I’m currently editing a fantasy/alternate timeline historical series called Grail Maiden, but my first published novels for children are three sweet little novels set in 1977, and starring Lindy Jones and the brownie who lives in her kitchen.
Lindy and the Fairies
Book 1 – Sandals in the Snow, published 5 April 2023.
Hello Diary. I’m Lindy, and I’m ten and 3/4. I live with my Nanna because my parents are dead. The house needs a lot of work, but there’s no money. The class bully lives next door, and now my Nanna’s ill. I wish I could catch a fairy and get three wishes!
‘I’ve never had enough of anything – including money, friends, and brothers and sisters. Then my Daddy won some money on the football pools and bought us an old house that’s really nice but needs a lot of work. But it meant I had to start a new school where everyone else has known each other for years, and now I’m being bullied and no-one likes me.
‘Then Daddy took Mummy on a cruise, and my Nanna moved in to look after me. But their ship sank and they drowned. I miss them so much my throat hurts. And most of the money Daddy had left was spent on getting them home and buried, so now we can’t afford the repairs to the house.
‘And now my Nanna’s been taken ill. She’s all the family I’ve got, and I’m scared she might die too. Who would look after me if she does?
‘If I could catch a fairy, would it grant me three wishes? Then maybe I could get my Nanna healed, stop the bullying, and get the house repaired.’
Lindy and the Fairies
Book 2 – The Backyard Fairies, published 24 May 2023.
‘Hello Diary. We met some men today who want to buy our house and knock it down to make a car park for their new supermarket they want to build. We’re not going to, but they seem to think we will, if they bribe us with enough money. But what they don’t understand is that this is our home. Not only that, but it was my Mum and Dad’s home before they died. Why would I want to leave it, when it’s the only place I can remember them properly?’
It’s 1977 and Lindy Jones has a problem. A group of men in suits is pressuring her Nanna to sell their house. But Lindy loves their house, and her Nanna has just spent a lot of time and money renovating it.
While the adults try to think of reasonable objections to oppose the planning permission the men will need, Lindy enlists the help of their house brownie and the fairies in the back garden of the abandoned house two doors away.
Can they find a way to stop the supermarket being built in their backyard, yet keep everyone happy? Or does Lindy just need to be herself and follow each step as it comes to her?
Lindy and the Fairies
Book 3 – A Fairy in My Schoolbag, published 3 September 2023.
‘On Monday, Maria and I are starting our first year at Wellham High School. It’s a very big school, much bigger than our primary school, and to tell you the truth (because you should always be truthful with your diary), I’m a bit nervous about it. Actually, I’m a lot nervous.
I wonder if Nellie will be in my class? I hope not. I’m sure she stole my Narnia book from the beautiful box set Nanna bought me for my birthday. I don’t ever want to see her again, really, but I especially don’t want to be in the same class as her. There are four classes in every year, so there’s a good chance I won’t be. But I bet I am. That’s just the way life seems to go.’
It’s September 1977, and 11-year-old Lindy is hoping to make some friends at her new school, while her best friend Maria worries about what this might do to their friendship.
Despite Maria’s prickliness, all appears to be going well at first. Then Nellie, a tough girl who Lindy doesn’t want to upset, brings in the book she stole to the class library. When Lindy takes it back, Nellie tries to turn the class against her.
To make matters worse, there’s a tiny voice that only Lindy can hear, coming from Nellie’s school bag. It’s a fairy that Nellie is holding captive until she grants her third wish. But she can’t do it without help.
With the help of the brownie who lives in her kitchen, Lindy plans to free the fairy. But even if her plan works, can she help the fairy grant Nellie’s third wish, and make a friend of the tough girl, instead of an enemy?
“Great read! At the end of every chapter I couldn’t wait to get to the next one.” Sylvia Belargent, age 11.
The first Grail Maiden book was written as a first draft in just twelve days at the end of November 2015, as part of a final push to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing 50,000 words in just one month. It tells the story of 12-year-old Aelwen, daughter of a Prince, whose world is changed forever when she finds the engraved slab that seals the cave where the druid Merllyn lies in an enchanted sleep. To free him, her friend, Derwen the Bard must create a girl/woman out of flowers; but when the druid is awoken, their troubles are just beginning.
Aelwen’s soul must be reconciled with that of her hated brother, if the tribe is to survive the onslaught of invasion to come. To ensure this happens, a new Grail Quest must be instigated. Merllyn’s partner, the goddess Nimue, causes the king to be magically wounded in order to set things in motion. Only the Grail can heal the King. The weather turns damp and misty, crops begin to fail, and Aelwen’s family and friends are threatened by strife from within the kingdom and without.
Aelwen little knows, when she begins her Bardic training, that she and her family will need to share in the Grail Quest in order to heal the King and the Land. All she knows is that she will do her best – but will it be good enough?
The story includes the retelling of several of the Welsh myths, including the ancient story of Bloddeuedd, the Woman of Flowers. Translations from the original can be found in the Mabinogion, but here is my version, told by Derwen the Bard.
I have other fantasy novels in progress, notably a two-book children’s series called The Secret Magicians, which I have finished drafting and am in the process of editing. I’ve tested this series with a couple of child readers, both of whom have absolutely loved it, so I have high hopes for it when it’s published. It was sparked by a short story I wrote for the Swanwick Festival competition 2014. It’s called The Secret Magicians, and it’s available here on the site, and also in a collection of short children’s stories by the Tunbridge Wells Writers Group, on Smashwords; but it went off at a bit of a tangent when I started to expand it, and became:
The Secret Magicians, Book 1
The Flight to Safety
Jack Skipper, aged 10, discovers one day in the marketplace that he has a talent for Magic, but there’s a problem. If the authorities find him, they will take him to be a Magician, fighting in their endless wars. Thankfully, he is discovered by Mrs Ermine, a kindly woman who offers to teach him how to use his talent safely, and for good.
But his stay with her is cut short by disturbing news – the war is coming to them, and they need to move to safety. A plan is formed, and Jack’s party is the first to leave, heading for a safe house in the mountains.
Unfortunately, the monastery where they are to meet the others is under threat from goblins, and inhabited by dwarves, with whom they make friends. As the others leave in one big group, evicted from their home by soldiers who want it for a barracks, Jack and his friends must help the dwarves to defeat the goblins, and find out why they are attacking.
Conjuring images to frighten the goblins seems to help, but on capturing two of their attackers, they discover that this is only the beginning. The Talasian Empire, whom their government is fighting, has plans to crush their country quickly – starting in the mountains!
The Secret Magicians, Book 2
How to Stop a War
The first challenge is to stop the goblins taking over the monastery. The second is to bring the others to safety. The third is to stop the war.
No pressure, then! Can Jack and his friends accomplish all their goals, and prevent a lot of unnecessary deaths?
Teaming up with the dwarves, it turns out, was only the start. As the struggle progresses, giant eagles, elves and a goddess join in the fight. But to actually prevent the war from reaching their shores, they need to discover who is behind it and persuade him to change his plans.
Jack’s talent for Magic is already highly developed, after the journey to the mountains. But can he stretch his skills even further and sneak into the mind of the powerful Magician they are up against? Better yet, can he make friends with him?
Another children’s novel I’ve started is provisionally titled Girl-Boy-Girl, and stars Imperial Princess Lin Fow Yat, whose problem is that she’s the wrong gender to inherit her father’s throne. But he’s told his people he has a son. Can she rule the Empire and still be herself?