Saturday, 15 April 2017

4Q Interview and an Excerpt with Guest Author Sharon Tregenza of Great Britian.


 
 
Sharon Tregenza was born and brought up in the beautiful county of Cornwall in the UK but has lived in many places including, Cyprus, The Middle East and Wales. Her debut children’s novel, ‘TARANTULA TIDE’ won the Kelpie’s prize, and the Heart of Hawick award.
‘THE SHIVER STONE’ is published by Firefly Press and her latest book “THE JEWELLED JAGUAR” will be also be published by Firefly in September. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales and a second Masters degree in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University. She also teaches “Writing for Children” at the Arts Centre.
Sharon lives in a lovely converted chapel near the historic city of Bath. She is currently working on several more children’s books.

 

4Q: You are an award winning author of children’s books. What attracts you to write for children, which I imagine to be quite difficult?

ST: When I lived in the Middle East I began writing children’s stories, articles and verse for a large newspaper group. I loved it and extended my work to other children’s magazines in the UK and the US. In 2008 I decided to up the ante and give books a try. I was lucky – my first attempt won two awards.
I love writing for children. It suits me. I like the variety of working with different kinds of formats and different subjects - although mystery is my favourite.  

4Q: As a child I couldn’t get enough of the Hardy Boys Detective series. I’ve read that your novel – Tarantula Tide – is about young sleuths. Please tell us about this award winning book and how the idea for it came about.

ST: The idea for ‘Tarantula Tide’ came to me after I read an article about the smuggling of exotic creatures. It’s a cruel and lucrative trade that few people know much about. It seemed a good idea to bring this to light in a children’s book. The Shetland Island’s hidden coves are frequently used to land illegal tarantulas, lizards and other creatures for profit. I added a boy with a secret and a girl with a love and knowledge of animals who join forces to uncover the mastermind behind the evil industry.
 

4Q: Please share a childhood anecdote or memory with our readers.

ST: I was lucky. I was born and brought up in the county of Cornwall with its beautiful beaches and countryside. Also, being part of a big family meant plenty of playmates. But, oddly although there are so many happy memories of that time, it was a tragedy that came to mind when I read your question. In 1967 an oil tanker ran aground between Lands end and the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall. Tonnes of crude oil seeped into the Atlantic. The black slick ruined our beaches. It contaminated 130 miles of Cornish coastline and decimated our tourist and fishing trades. But for me, as a kid, it was the death of the wildlife that haunted me. I was part of a party of children from a local youth club who went to make teas and coffees for the hundreds of people involved in the massive clean up campaign. I’ll never forget the boil of black waves on the shore or the stench of the oil. Over fifteen thousand birds, seals and other marine life died. I remember crying as I watched one seagull flapping desperately, trapped in the blanket of black gloop.
 

4Q: What are you working on now Sharon and what else is in the future?

ST:  I have another Middle Grade mystery coming out in September with Firefly Press. It’s called ‘The Jewelled Jaguar’ and involves an Aztec sacrificial knife, sinkholes and kids trapped in underground tunnels. Great fun.
I’m also writing a series of mysteries for younger children and another Middle Grade mystery (with a touch of magic) called ‘The Black Peacock’. Busy days.
 
 
An Excerpt.
 
THE JEWELLED JAGUAR (Middle Grade mystery to be published September 2017)
 
1
CRASH 
When a hole in the earth opened up and swallowed my mum, everything changed.
We didn’t know it was going to happen. How could we?
             It was Sunday. It was sunny for a change. We were weeding the flesh-eaters.
‘You do the cobra lilies, Griff. I’ll sort the monkey cups,’ mum said. ‘Then we’ll work on the Venus flytraps.’
I tapped at the soft soil with my trowel. It was too hot to put in much effort. Besides, I didn’t like those plants. They ate live creatures. Mum loved them because Mum hated flies. In the house there was a can of insect spray in every corner of every room. It was like she was at war with all the flies on the planet. Her hungry meat-eaters were the first line of defence. If a fly survived them and flew into the house, it got zapped.
            That night, after my shower, my skin buzzed from the day in the sun. I was tired and fell asleep quickly and deeply.
#
The crash was like thunder in my room. It jolted me awake, throwing me to one side of the bed. The house shook. With a crack like gunfire, the window shattered and glass flew inwards in a glittering explosion.
            ‘Muuum!’
My bed tilted to one side, and I clung to the headboard. I thought it must be an earthquake. My wardrobe rocked, juddered forward, and then toppled with another crash.
            ‘Muuum!’ I yelled again.
            In the dawn light, I saw the floor was sloped at an angle; the door flung open and twisted on its hinges.
            ‘Muuum!’When everything stopped moving, there was silence except for the screaming siren of Mum’s car alarm. The headlights flashed on and off my bedroom wall in rhythm with my heartbeat. With a churning stomach, I watched in horror as my duvet curled and slithered off the bed as if it were alive. 
2
HOLE 
I don’t know how long I clung to the headboard. When I got the courage to move, my legs shook so much I couldn’t stand. Dust swirled in through the door like smoke. I coughed and rubbed at my eyes.
Crawling on hands and knees, I inched my way towards the doorway. With my back against the wall I levered the door open with my foot to squeeze my body through. There was another deep boom, and my bedside table slid across the room, thumping into my side. With a groan, I pushed it away.
The dust was thicker in the hallway, and there was a stench like dirty water – like drains. It filled my nose and throat, and I heaved. Mum wasn’t in her bedroom. Sobbing with fright, I lurched through the chaos in every room, shouting for her. The floor sloped like a ship’s deck in a storm. Stuff had fallen out of cupboards and off shelves. Cans rolled across the kitchen floor. Boxes of cereal spilled off the counter tops. The kitchen table was on its side, cups and plates smashed beneath it.
What was happening?
Nothing made sense.
       Mum wasn’t in the kitchen, lounge or bathroom. Another boom and with the following shudder pictures and photographs dropped from the walls with a crash of breaking glass. I curled up in a ball on the floor with my arms around my head. When the tremors stopped I slowly unfurled.
 A cold draft blew up the hallway towards me. The front door swung off its hinges, creaking like old timbers. I crawled towards it, pulled it open and stared into … nothing.
        The garden was gone.
The garage was gone; the lawn was gone; the trees were gone. Even the flesh-eating plants were gone.
Inches from the doorstep, where the garden should have been was a massive hole.
A tree twisted with a loud crack. It bowed, thrashed its leaves, and was sucked down into the seething mass of earth and rubble. The surface rippled, and more earth twisted in on itself like a dark whirlpool. Land was sliding slowly into the pit – being sucked into the void. The back end of Mum’s car stuck out of the hole. Its lights flashed; its alarm screamed.
            And then I knew… my mum was down there, too.
            I leapt into the swirling mass.
Immediately the soil dragged at my body, trying to suck me under. I scrabbled desperately at the earth and rubble, screaming, ‘Muum!’
My mouth filled with dirt. I gagged and spat. Something above me snapped and fell, smashing into the side of my head. I didn’t feel the pain. I clawed at the earth – digging, digging, digging.
Then I saw the flash of purple. Mum’s dressing gown. I clawed at the material just as arms grabbed me from above and hauled me from the churning pit.
Voices shouted:
‘Get him out! Get him out!’
‘It’s still moving.’
‘Grab him. Quick!’
I tried to fight them off, swinging my fists, wild with terror and rage. ‘My Mum’s down there! My Mum’s down there!’
But they were too strong for me, and I was dragged away still screaming, ‘Muuum!’
#
I was in an ambulance, and all around was noise and people and flashing lights. I shook so hard my teeth rattled. A paramedic put his arm around my shoulder and said something. He dabbed at my head. The white cloth came away bright red with blood. I couldn’t work out what he was saying. I watched his mouth move, but he didn’t make any sense.
            Nothing felt real. Through the doors of the ambulance I saw everything in snapshots. A police officer waved people away, another cordoned off our home with a reel of tape. Neighbours hovered in silent groups just behind the hedge. They peered into the ambulance at me, their eyes wide with shock. If I turned towards them, they quickly looked away again.
Another officer stuck his head a round the door. ‘Griffin? We think there’s been some sort of mine collapse or a sinkhole. They’re doing their best to get your mother out, son. Hang in there.’
            ‘I nodded. When I lifted my arm to pull the blanket around me a pain shot like a bolt of electricity from my neck down through my back.
The police officer patted my shoulder. He turned and raised his voice, ‘Is there any way we can shut off that bloody car alarm?’
A man climbed in and sat beside me.  He wore dirty jeans and a ragged T-shirt covered in dust. There was a smell of oil about him. I thought he was one of the rescuers.
He swept the thick blonde curls from his eyes. ‘Griffin, isn’t it? I’m a doctor. Dr Blyth Merrick. I’ve sent someone to tell Rhodri, your uncle, what’s happened. He can meet us at the hospital.’
I wasn’t sure if my uncle would want to meet us - or even if I wanted him there. But, before I could say anything the doctor took my hands in his and I saw, with surprise, that my mine were covered in thick, black mud – and blood.
‘Looks like the paramedics have taken good care of you but we need to get you to the hospital to make sure there are no bones broken. There’s that cut on your head, too. They’re still trying to get to your mum.’
We avoided each other’s eyes.
He lowered his head and we sat in silence.
        There was a triumphant shout. ‘We’ve got her!’ followed by a sudden clamour of noise and confusion. The doctor shot up and out of the ambulance. I tried to follow. But as my feet hit the ground I felt the world spin in on me, and everything went black.
 

 

Thank you Sharon for being the guest this week on the Scribbler. Good luck with your future endeavors.

For more information on Sharon and her stories please visit these links:

Facebook: sharontregenzabooks
Twitter: @sharontregenza
 
 

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