On Prophecies, Popes and Publishing

Watchers Cover

I’ve not been blogging for the past few months because I’ve been working on the second and third books in the Tilly Greenway series. The second book, called The Hidden Hand, was due to be released this spring. That’s all changed. My publishers have decided that some of it is simply too contentious, given what is happening in the world right now!

Readers of Watchers, the first book in the series, will know that the story blends old-style myth with a modern-day conspiracy tale in which the plot revolves around a shadow-government that rules the world from behind the scenes. I’d always wanted to mix these two elements because I like both and although they don’t seem to match, I wanted to do something that no one else was doing – to break new ground.

I’m really glad I did. With letters and emails flooding in from readers of all ages who love Watchers, I’ve felt that I have a mandate to continue on with a story truly unlike any other.

For the conspiracy element, I researched a lot of articles on current events and studied a lot of history. I also read many old prophecies that predict either the end of the world or specific major events. I then wove a plot in which a modern day shadow-government (like the Illuminati of The Da Vinci Code) not only follow these ancient prophecies – they do all they can to make them happen. For instance, the first book, Watchers, begins on June 5th, which is indeed referred to in a number of almanacs as “The Night of the Watchers.”

Little did I know, however, that so much of my fictional plot would turn out to be virtually identical to what is going on in the real world!

I’m fascinated by dreams and visions and how they have shaped our history. It seems prophecies have flourished all over the world, from the earliest Sumerian writings, through the religious texts of almost every culture, including the bible, the Oracles of Ancient Greece and the Sybils of Rome, through Nostradamus, right up to today.

My particular writing method is unusual. I use a technique I have developed called the Alpha State Meditation. All dreams happen when our brains dip down into the alpha-wave pattern, rather than the beta-wave of waking life. So, if you like, I dream the stories – neither fully conscious nor unconscious – which is perhaps why so many people have written to me saying that the style is very visual.

It’s an interesting way to write; like watching a movie where I can become any one of the protagonists, experiencing a scene from their point of view (I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to do this in cinemas soon). So, whilst I may have the overall plot worked out in advance, I am often surprised by what unfolds. I’ve even had new characters arrive “out of nowhere.” I’ll write more about this technique another time. For now, let’s return to the reasons The Hidden Hand has been held back.

Most conspiracy theories are just that: theories. The Illuminati, however, are real. Formed in the late eighteenth century by a German called Thomas Weishaupt, documents intercepted in Bavaria twenty years later revealed that Weishaupt and his co-conspirators had the specific aim of infiltrating the highest echelons of government, the church, the media and businesses worldwide in order to gain control over the world’s population. They began in France, where their success can be measured in the number of heads severed by the guillotine. Every high-ranking member of Robespierre’s “Reign of Terror” was a member of the Illuminati.

This seemed a perfect place to begin a tale of mystery and intrigue that stretches right back to the dawn of time.

As you will find out when Book 2 is finally released, the fictional shadow-government of my story forms an “Axis of Power” that involves London, Washington DC and Rome. Intent on reducing the world’s population, this Axis of Power begins with a programme of micro-chipping Londoners with mu-brains, tiny microchips that control human thought.

The twist in the tale is that these people are working with a host of invisible entities who live in another dimension and who feed off human fear. This idea itself is not new. Many of our oldest stories are filled with warning of demons and devils who visit us in our sleep, like the Night-Mare, the Succubus or the Incubus. In the Tilly Greenway series, the shadow-government does a deal with these demons, spreading fear through the media so that people are unwittingly turned into a source of food or made easier to manipulate.

I had originally foreseen the use of the Olympic Ceremonies, the Music Industry and war in the Middle East as the main events/stages for this shadow-government to drive through its plans during Book 2 and 3.

Having seen the Olympic ceremonies last summer, having looked at the images and words being pumped out in many music videos and having followed the wars that have rocked Iraq, Egypt and Libya – with the very real danger of war in Syria and perhaps Iran to come – it has become plainer and plainer that the fictional plot of my books has to a large extent foreshadowed real life events.

To give you an example:

Centuries ago, an Irish seer called St Malachy foresaw a line of 112 Popes, the last of whom he calls Petrus Romanus, or “Peter the Roman.” Petrus Romanus, says Malachy, will “pasture his sheep in many tribulations: and when these things are finished….the terrible judge will judge his people.”

The original draft of The Hidden Hand begins with a quote from Malachy’s prophecy and continues with a Papal Conclave during which Petrus Romanus is elected.

Back in the real world: Benedict XVI was the 111th pope on St Malachy’s list. Benedict surprised the world by resigning on February 28th, but what no one has mentioned is that February 28th is the Feast Day of a certain St Romanus!

As I write this post, the 115 Cardinals who will decide who will become the 112th Bishop of Rome are entering the Sistine Chapel. The Conclave has begun. Obviously, when I was drawing up the plot of the Tilly Greenway series, I had no idea this was going to happen just a few weeks before the second book was due to be released.

Given all this, my publishers have asked me to re-write some sections of the next two books. Without spoiling the plot for you, that’s about as much as I can say right now!

Full info and reviews of Watchers here:

Paperback amazon.co.uk      Paperback amazon.com

Kindle: amazon.com         Kindle: amazon.co.uk

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Waterstones Book-Signing Events with Essi Tolling, Autumn 2012

With the Reynolds family at Camberley Waterstones

This autumn I am doing tour of Waterstones bookstores, signing copies of Watchers. It’s been a busy programme, with signings every weekend since the middle of August! I love doing these events: such a great way to meet readers, chat about their favourite books – and, of course, to have a browse around the shelves myself too!

Bookshops are just such fantastic places. I know the market for kindle and e-book sales is rocketing and more and more people are buying online, but nothing can replace the excitement of heading into a real store. It’s a whole different experience to shopping on the Internet. Something unexpected often catches the eye in a way that simply can’t happen unless you’re surrounded by the books themselves. If you’re seeking inspiration you can ask for help from the staff, who often suggest titles you’ve never even heard of. And then there is the simple pleasure of reaching out, opening a book, feeling the paper as you thumb the pages, smelling its unique smell, as you let the words take you off to another place…

That first page is always the one that does it for me!

Don’t get me wrong: I welcome the surge in e-book sales. More people reading more books has to be good news, and I have a hunch that many people who read the electronic versions will go on to buy physical books too. But there will always be a special place in my heart for bookstores, much as I prefer reading from the page rather than the screen.

Maybe it is because it’s a social thing? Although we hunt for titles in our own little “bubble”, when we are in bookstores we share the space with others who love reading – whereas shopping online is a solo experience.

If you enjoy visiting bookstores as much as I do – and if you’d like to meet me sometime soon – you can find me in the following Waterstones stores over the coming weeks:

Saturday November 3rd: Waterstones Trowbridge

Saturday November 10th: Waterstones Bristol Galleries

Saturday November 17th: Waterstones Hereford

Sunday November 25th: Waterstones Southampton West Quay

Saturday December 15th: Waterstones Swindon

All signings are between approximately noon and 3pm. Do come along and say hello. I’d love the chance to meet you!

With Sue Brooks at Cardiff Waterstones

Olympic Ceremony Features Scene from Watchers!

The iconic image of Glastonbury Tor in
Meraylah Allwood’s illustration from “Watchers”

As regular readers will have gathered, I’m not blogging as much at the moment. This is because I’ve headed back to Ireland in order to put the finishing touches to Book 2 of the Tilly Greenway series, The Hidden Hand. But, when a reader contacted me on Facebook to let me know that the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics is going to feature a scene from Book 1, Watchers…well, I just HAD to say something!

The full account of Danny Boyle’s lavish ceremony, scheduled to be staged on Friday fortnight, was published in The Daily Mail last week.

According to this report in the Daily Mail:

The set will include a recreation of the Glastonbury Thor [sic] and an enormous fake tree, which will appear in the first scene, entitled ‘green and pleasant land’

Have a look at this link and you’ll see that the centrepiece of the set for Boyle’s “Rural England” is none other than Glastonbury Tor, the famous landmark in the West Country that has drawn pilgrims to it for hundreds if not thousands of years.

And yet, it is not the Tor as you would know it, because the iconic image of the conical hill with the striking outline of St Michael’s Tower on its peak has been replaced by a Tor that now has a tree at its top. Nothing remarkable in that, you might say: except for the fact that this exact thing happens in a key scene from Watchers, the first book of the Tilly Greenway series.

Without giving too much away for those of you who have not yet read the book, here is the paragraph that describes the event:

“Up thrust the tree in a mass of flickering silver and grey. At first its slender trunk grew inside the walls of the tower, but as it got taller its branches pushed outwards, cracking the tower to pieces. The top stones fell first, cascading away down the Tor. Then the rest gave way until even the foundation stones, deep-set and strong, fractured and crumbled to dust.

“In an instant the tower had gone and there in its place stood a majestic tree.”

The arrival of the tree on top of the Tor is pivotal to the Tilly Greenway story in many ways. It is an Ash Tree with good reason.

To the druids, the Ash symbolised the gateway from the subconscious (which was represented by the “nemeton” or “oak-grove”) to the conscious mind. With the appearance of the tree at the top of the Tor, a portal for the awakening of sacred knowledge is created. This forms a pathway along which this sacred knowledge can travel, from our subconscious into our conscious minds, where we can act on it more deliberately.

From what I can see of the Olympic version, Boyle appears to have used an Oak, or perhaps it is a Thorn. Time shall tell on that and I’ll let you know the significance of his choice.

What fascinates me about this is that, having researched the imagery and symbolism used in public ceremonies, I know that nothing is chosen without specific reasons. These are occasions when millions of people tune-in and they are used to broadcast specific messages – messages that speak directly to our subconscious minds. (Bearing in mind that the subconscious part of our minds sees images on television as real, understands all archetypes and forgets NOTHING.)

So, my question is this: did Danny Boyle read Watchers before he planned the Olympic Opening Ceremony? If he did, I can understand why he might have replaced the tower with a tree. If he didn’t, perhaps one of his friends had read the book? The only other explanation I have been given is that the tower has religious connotations and that Boyle did not wish to “offend” anyone by including it. In which case, why bother with the Tor at all? Why not just a regular hill, surrounded by England’s green and pleasant fields?

As so often with coordinated public events, there is more to this than meets the eye at first glance. I’ll almost certainly revisit it once I know more. For now, all I can say is that whilst much of Tilly is prophetic (written through visions that I have in my dreams) I had not foreseen this episode!

Paperback amazon.co.uk      Paperback amazon.com

Kindle: amazon.co.uk         Kindle: amazon.com

If you’d like to listen to me reading the prologue to Watchers, you’ll find it amongst several Youtube pieces here.

Until next time – my best wishes!

Essi.

 

Prometheus, The Annunaki and Tilly Greenway

Ridley Scott’s film Prometheus is perhaps the first to bring in specific references to the Annunaki, the ancient aliens who make their appearance in Sumerian tales dating back to 5,000BC. I’m particularly interested to see this story reaching a more mainstream audience, not least because it has specific relevance to the Tale of Tilly Greenway and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys.

For those of you who do not know about the Annunaki, the first-known stories about them were written in cuneiform on clay tablets some 7,500 years ago. These tablets, of which there are many thousands, have been unearthed from the sands of Iraq, Iran and neighbouring areas. Whilst they range over a wide number of topics, from the creation of the world to the Flood, they all talk of a group of gods and goddesses, called the Annunaki, who visited the Earth some 250,000 years ago.

But are the tales myth or do they refer to real events? Were these gods and goddesses figments of imagination, or were they in fact three-dimensional extra-terrestrials who landed on Earth a quarter of a million years ago? This is a debate that has raged quietly behind closed doors for a long time. Now it is being opened to a wider audience.

Well-known early depiction of one of the Annunaki “gods” – note how much larger he is than the humans shown in the carving

I believe that there are many truths hidden under the label of “myth” or “legend”. So let’s take a look at the story of the Annuna-ki and see if we can find any evidence for them being more than simple flights of fancy.

The Sumerian word Annunaki translates as “those who came to Earth from the sky/heavens”, the “ki” standing for Earth. In the Tilly Greenway tales, I call them simply The Anuna – “those who are from the sky” – because the tablets make it very clear that these early gods/space-travellers visited many other planets as well as our own.

Early in the Prometheus film we hear about a “star map” that gives directions to the planet where the aliens in the movie come from. This star map is real. Artefacts bearing its design have been discovered on every major continent, all virtually identical. (In Watchers, it features very early on, in Tilly’s dream).

This in itself is remarkable, bearing in mind there was not supposed to be much travel between places such as South America and Africa until relatively recently. How, and why, would separate civilizations create the very same story, with identical images, if there were not some unifying agent? The collective subconscious is powerful for sure, but something like this is too much to be dismissed as mere “coincidence”.

Who were the Annunaki and what were they doing here?

In Prometheus, the line of enquiry as to who the Annunaki were and what happened after they arrived on Earth is not answered (perhaps it will be in a second film?). In the Tilly Greenway tales (which are really a modern day rendering of the most widespread and oldest legends) I explore the idea in depth.

In much the same way that myths contain hidden truths, the accepted version of history often conceals many lies. There’s a simple reason for this: victors always seek to wipe out any threat to their control by asserting their own supremacy. You could say that the accepted version of history is as much propaganda as it is a genuine record of events.

It’s not surprising, then, that when conventional wisdom is challenged, those who walk the corridors of the Establishment do their best to laugh their challengers out of court. After all, they have a vested interest in maintaining their version of events, no matter how false they may be.

Right now, most modern historians and archaeologists ridicule the idea of an alien race visiting Earth at any point in its history. Yet, as time passes and more and more discoveries are made (many of them, like Gobekli Tepi, forcing us to re-think our concepts of how far back the earliest civilizations go), some are beginning to stand against the tide, especially when it comes to the possibility of early civilizations being far more developed than we have thought.

The Creation Myth – Fact or Fiction?

With over 100,000 clay tablets covered in cuneiform, the Sumerian tales are too long to do more than touch on them in one blog post (we’ll revisit them in future) but the essential story is this: whilst here, the “ones who came to the Earth from the sky” (whether you choose to call them gods or extra-terrestrials is up to you) discovered a primitive hominid, presumably an ape of some kind. They then used advanced techniques to create a hybrid species, mixing their own DNA with that of the hominids to create a “worker” to mine gold for them.

One fascinating point for me here is that the tablets speak specifically of a number of medical procedures that were carried out by Annunaki scientists that were thousands of years ahead of their time. My question here is: how would those who wrote the tablets even have known about transfusions, transplants and so on if they were not happening at that time?

It was not an easy process. The tablets talk of many failed experiments in which the half-hominid, half-Annunaki “babies” were born with serious medical defects. Modern day genetic experiments have come across exactly the same issues, including the sterility of genetically-engineered hybrids – something that crops up in the Sumerian tales.

It is only when the chief Annunaki scientists use surrogate mothers from the Annunaki females (rather than the hominid females) that they are able to produce offspring that can both survive and breed. According to the tablets, these offspring were the forerunners of homeo sapiens.

In other words, thousands of clay tablets from one of the earliest known human civilisations, state quite clearly that our ancestors were all hybrids between a terrestrial and an extra-terrestrial race!

This Ubaid figurine shows a clearly non-human female nursing a non-human child

Is this such a huge leap of faith? It would certainly explain the sudden and extreme advancement in our intellect that happened somewhere between 250,000 and 150,000 years ago, for which no one has yet come up with a good answer. It might also explain other mysteries, but that is something to leave for another time. Let’s just say that the potential for a cover-up is huge, which is why the Tilly Greenway saga is as much a conspiracy-story as a fantasy!

Why would I, or anyone else, suggest that there might be more to these clay tablets than meets the eye (apart from the fact that it makes for an interesting background to a novel!)? One reason is the extraordinary similarity between the Sumerian myths and those told elsewhere. Another is the unmistakable correlation between aspects of the Sumerian tales and passages that are contained within the Bible, where the very same story of the creation of mankind is told, except that the Anunnaki have been replaced by certain aspects of Yahweh.

The parallels are striking. In the Sumerian stories, the first male hybrid created by the Annunaki is called the Adamu. He and his female partner are kept in a place called The Edin. They gain knowledge which displeases some of the Annunaki hierarchy and they are removed from The Edin to fend for themselves.

Bear in mind that the Sumerian tablets pre-date the Bible scrolls by several thousand years. Is it possible, therefore, that they had no influence at all upon the scribes of the most-read “book” in the world?

For me, the “coincidences” are too great to ignore. And it doesn’t stop there.

The Sumerian tales talk of the Annunaki being much taller than humans. Are there references in the Bible to giant creatures? Yes there are. Do the giants in the Bible interbreed with the indigenous population? Yes they (or their offspring, or the “sons of God”) do.

Here are some of them (my italics).

“When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.” Genesis 6: 1-4

“But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Numbers 13: 30-33

“The Emim formerly lived there, a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim.” Deuteronomy 2:10

“For only Og the king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bed was a bed of iron. Is it not in Rabbah of the Ammonites? Nine cubits was its length, and four cubits its breadth, according to the common cubit.” Deuteronomy 3:11

You can see from these quotations that the writers accepted the presence of giants on Earth. Note too the echo of the Sumerian word “Annunaki” in the references to the “sons of Anak” and the “Anakim” – both of whom are described as being much taller than regular humans. (For those of you who like your sci-fi, you’ll recall that Darth Vader’s name, before he donned the helmet and heavy-breathing act, was “Anakin”)

Of course, the references to the Nephilim and the sons of God are not clear cut. Are they the same, or different? There is certainly nothing explicit here about aliens from outer-space! But whoever they were, they were clearly giants.

I’ll revisit this topic of the role of giants in our history another time, especially the references to the “Watchers” or Fallen Angels which come into a number of the scrolls that were edited-out of the Bible some 1600 years ago (if you are interested, have a look at the Book of Enoch, Ethiopian text).

Tales of the Fallen Angels run deep in our psyches

To finish-up for today, I’ll just float another interesting point out there.

The Sumerian tablets say that the creation of the Adamu and other hybrids took place in what we call South Africa. This is the very location that the mitochondrial DNA of the first human female, to whom we are ALL related, is now known to have originated. We have only recently discovered this, thanks to the advance in our understanding of genetics.

Could it be just “another coincidence” that stories written 7,500 years ago pointed to exactly the same place of origin as our scientists have only just discovered? Of course it could. But it’s an interesting one…

Whether myth or truth, the whole rigmarole of the “ancient aliens who visited Earth” makes for an exciting back-history to the plot of a series of books, which is why they form the backbone to the Tale of Tilly Greenway and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys, a work of fiction in which I delve deep into our past from a very contemporary setting. The story draws on much documented history and my study of different myths and legends from all over the world, but essentially it is still a story, a new rendering of some of the oldest-known creation-myths of all, rather than an allegory.

What I can promise you, however, is that my research has taken me to some very interesting frontiers, beyond any of those that are currently circulated in public. As such, the series will not draw its head back into a shell, as Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol did. There are some eyebrow-raising revelations to come.

You can certainly expect plenty of dark intrigue and deeds of evil as the series progresses, as well as riddles and prophecies both old and new. Then again you can expect plenty of good old-fashioned adventure, with mythical and magical creatures too!

That’s the fun of blending fact and fiction. At the end of the day, it’s just a story. A bit like life, really.

Paperback amazon.co.uk      Paperback amazon.com

Kindle: amazon.co.uk         Kindle: amazon.com

A trip to Skenfrith Castle!

Skenfrith Castle

In my last post I talked about how I mix fact and fiction in the Tilly Greenway books and how much I love going to the various “sacred sites” and places of historic interest that pop up in our tale. There’s so much to see and learn in any country, but England, Wales and Ireland certainly have their share of wonderful places to visit.

It’s often easy to overlook what’s right under our noses – to take for granted things that others will travel hundreds or thousands of miles to see. With this in mind, I took the wiggly route on my way back from a recent book-signing at Hereford Waterstones so that I could spend some time in one of the most important places that Tilly and Zack visit during book one: Skenfrith Castle.

The approach to Skenfrith Castle

Sitting on the border between Wales and England, this is one of many castles built by the Normans during the eleventh and twelfth centuries to mark out the territory between what was under easy rule and the dangerous lands where the Celts lived! Take a drive along the border and you’ll see them, one after the other: Chepstow, Monmouth, Gooderich, Skenfrith, Grosmont, White Castle, Raglan etc.

Of all these, Skenfrith is perhaps my favourite. With its huge round tower and crumbling outer walls, it has a brooding, stark quality to it and this, combined with the fact that there are rarely many if any people there, makes it the perfect place for Tilly and Zack to set out from on their quest!

Thanks to Oliver Cromwell’s thugs, many castles (and churches) have been destroyed. Cromwell believed that he would quash the supporters of the Crown by dismantling their strongholds and seizing their land. He was wrong. His Republic lasted only eight years before the rightful Stuart King was back on the throne.

Skenfrith Castle has stood the test of time in pretty good shape. Sitting on a meander of the River Monnow it is no more than a simple outer wall surrounding a round keep tower, although the walls are several feet thick! To give you a sense of perspective, here I am standing in the broken archway.

"I'm the king of the castle!"

In “Watchers” this is where Tilly and Zack meet Ambrose, a mysterious figure who has been alive since the days when Alexandria was a place of great learning. This is another example of mixing fact and fiction. Ambrose is a figment of my imagination, but Alexandria was a real seat of learning for hundreds of years (many famous scholars studied there) until its libraries were razed to the ground in the 5th Century AD.

At that time Alexandria housed the one of greatest libraries in the world, more than half a million scrolls that went up in flames whilst the mob (who had been whipped up into an anti-pagan frenzy by Christian zealots) murdered any teachers they could find. One of those killed was the university’s female librarian, Hypatia. She was also its head-lecturer in both philosophy and astronomy, which goes to show that there was equality between the sexes in the Alexandrine culture. Hoping for mercy, Hypatia sought refuge inside a church, but was shown none.

In real life most of the Alexandrian texts were lost forever, but in the Tilly series they have not all disappeared. A secret society called The Guardians of the Earth has preserved a precious few and are keeping alive some of the knowledge of long ago…

One of only two doorways in the outer wall at Skenfrith Castle, this one used to open onto/into the River Monnow

Ambrose is the most senior member of The Guardians. His name is based on the merging of Amber and Rose (you’ll find out why in the story) and bears echoes of Ambrosius, a historical character said to be alive at the time of King Arthur. The real-life Ambrosius was something of a Merlin-figure and may well have been one of the Romans who became a druid.

My Ambrose has elements of druid about him too, his main aim being to listen to the teachings of nature and pass on his understanding. His connection with the Arthurian Merlin is cemented by the fact that he is accompanied by a falcon called Mirlyn. There is a real bird of prey called a Merlin, but the main reason for Ambrose’s “familiar” or totem being one of these small birds of prey is that hawks and falcons are symbols of guardianship in the Old Lore.

Tilly and Zack have their own totems too, but we don’t come across them until the second book, except for Tilly’s association with the Lark – which we can explore another time.

Skenfrith Castle is one of the Trilateral castles – Grosmont and White Castle are the others – which is another layer of richness for me, because of the 3-fold ray of the druid’s Awen. Here Ambrose has his “dream chamber” where he lies looking up at the stars, dreaming “deep dreams of yesterday, tomorrow and today”. Calling himself “The Bearer of the Blue Light” and “First of the Twelve” he has an important role to play in the story.

Here he is, standing in the archway to the castle in Meraylah Allwood’s wonderful illustration.

Ambrose - Illustration from Watchers

Of course, we’ve embellished details. The archway is much as it might have been, rather than as it is now. That’s the fun of mixing fact and fiction.

As in the story, there is a river that runs right through the village until it passes beneath an old stone bridge at the feet of a pub. It is along this river that Tilly, Zack and Ambrose make their mist-shrouded escape (I won’t tell you from what or whom!) and head up into the Welsh mountains.

The old bridge at Skenfrith

Things change. When I last visited Skenfrith there were six gnarled apple trees growing between the outer wall and the keep, which is why there are six in the story (one of which you can see in Meraylah’s picture). Most of those trees have been felled since then, but one still stands, hidden from view on the far side of the tower.

The last Apple at Skenfrith Castle - still festooned with Mistletoe

As in the story, this Apple tree’s branches are laden with bunches of mistletoe, which is an important aspect of the atmosphere in which we first meet Ambrose, because the colours of mistletoe are Green and Gold and because the plant was highly valued by the wise ones of old and also because one of the old names for mistletoe is “All Heal”…

Ah, but that’s a story for another post!

Mistletoe at Skenfrith

PS – If you enjoyed this post, you might like to find out more about Tilly’s first adventure (including lots of reviews from readers) at any of these links. Thank you!

Paperback amazon.co.uk      Paperback amazon.com

Kindle: amazon.co.uk         Kindle: amazon.com

 

Myth and Magic – Fact or Fiction?

Silbury Hill features in Watchers as a place where dragons slumber....

I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that so many myths and legends (and the lore within them) are similar in different countries. Take the story of the Deluge and the Flood. This tale is repeated in pretty much every continent. Huge rains are on the way. God tells one of the humans to build an ark, which he does. He and his family then escape the ensuing flood, whilst the rest of mankind is drowned. In the bible the human is Noah, in older texts he is Ziusudra: but the tale is almost identical. It seems unlikely that such a wide-spread story is just a myth. Far more likely that it records an actual event.

The tale of Tilly Greenway and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys also begins with a flood-warning, but this flood is not a real one. It is part of an orchestrated plan by those in power to micro-chip the population. Is such a plan pure fantasy? Perhaps, but the possibility is there, which is why it kicks off our tale.

Magic and myth are interwoven with the real world throughout the Tilly Greenway saga. Although many of the characters might have stepped from the pages of fantasy (such as Herne or the Dragons) the locations of the tale are all places you can find on a map. This was quite deliberate and, I hope, makes the books very different from other fantasies in which the reader travels through a wholly fictitious world.

Herne as he appears in the Tilly Greenway stories

I chose to write this way for several reasons. One is that I wanted to delve into the hidden history of our planet. In this way, the stories form a true grail quest, an exploration of what has been going on in the real world (and still is) in order to keep us from finding out the truth about our past. There are some eyebrow-raising revelations to come…

Having said that, the books are not allegory. Like Tolkien, I am not a fan of allegory. I prefer history – both real and imagined. In order to give the tale authenticity I’ve created a history of our race that goes back well beyond the Ice Age (as you’ll discover in later books). For this I’ve used a combination of sources, including some of the Celtic poems (many of which were written in a deliberately obscure way in order to avoid being edited) and the tales told on Sumerian tablets some seven thousand years ago.

There are hundreds of thousands of these clay tablets, most of them yet to be translated. My guess is that, as with the Qumran scrolls, many will never see the light of day (not for public consumption anyway). An interesting fact is that the majority of them are/were buried in the sands of Iraq and Iran, so you can see how relevant to today our tale really is.

But the main reason for mixing fact with fiction and magic with reality is that I believe magic is very much alive; that the world we live in is just as fantastical and full of wonder as any that I might create. Getting out into nature (and way from the screens that encroach ever more closely on our lives!) is magic enough for me, which is why Tilly and Zack spend so much time “outdoors”.

Take this photo that one of my daughters took over the Easter weekend. I love it! So much beauty. So much mystery. Who knows, perhaps each droplet of water is a universe of its own, with countless tiny lives being played out within it?

And I wonder what was going through this ladybird’s mind as it scaled the huge peak of this old leaf…

I hoped too that some people might feel inspired to visit some of the locations that Tilly and Zack find themselves in during their quest. So you can imagine how pleased I was to hear recently from a reader who had taken his sons to see Silbury Hill and the Avebury Stones after they had read Watchers.

Avebury Stones

Another wrote to me to say that she had climbed Glastonbury Tor and visited the Chalice Well Gardens because she had had enjoyed Tilly’s adventures so much. Wonderful!

The Chalice Well Gardens

The Vesica Pisces pool in the Chalice Well Gardens

Why does visiting such places make a difference? Well, for me, seeing them, smelling them, reaching out to touch them means that we re-connect with all they have to offer us, each one with its unique atmosphere, all of them with secrets that they whisper to us from across the long years.

They connect us with our past, inform our present and help us look to the future too. Wrapped in the mystery of myth and legend, they are very real gateways to knowing just a little bit more of the real magic that weaves its way through the world around us…

Next time, we’ll visit Skenfrith Castle, another of the real-life locations in our tale!

An Early Easter-Puzzle…

We’re in the middle of the Celtic Willow-Month and soon I’ll be writing a post about Willow Tree Magic, but ahead of that here’s a teaser for you: can you tell me what is feeding on the pollen of this Goat Willow?

The first person to give me the correct answer will receive a free signed copy of Watchers, Book One of the Tilly Greenway and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys series.

You can let me know via Facebook, or via the comments section here. Get your answers in soon and your prize should reach you in time for Easter. Good luck!