The Scribbler is most fortunate to have another guest from “across the water”. Her website describes her writing as Fantasy with Heart. Intrigued by history, her novella series is set in medieval times. We are most fortunate to have her participate in a 4Q Interview and an excerpt from her novel – The Bound
Michelle Connor lives on the North East coast of England in a town called Grimsby. She has been with her husband for twenty-two years. They have three children together, their youngest is almost eighteen. She is the princess of the family and has two older brothers.
As well as writing, Michelle loves to paint, draw, and take lots of photographs. She has a great intrigue for history and spends many a summers day hunting for castles and ruins to visit. This passion comes through in her first novella series as it is set in the medieval era.
4Q: When I visited your website, I noticed the heading right away. Fantasy with Heart. Tell us about that.
MC: All my books no matter what they are about on the surface, at their base they're about the heart. Whether the emotions are love, fear, friendship. Above my readers enjoying the characters’ adventures, I want them to feel their emotions right with them.
4Q: I was impressed with your Nine World Protection Agency series. Very imaginative. Please tell us more.
MC: The idea for this series came when I couldn’t sleep one night. I wrote a short piece from the POV of Odin. He was in a mental asylum with no clue of who he was. (I haven’t used it yet, as I’m holding it back for a later book in the series.) The next day, I sat down with my laptop and the character of Rifinn came to me. I knew she was Odin’s granddaughter and sat it a club but that was all. I’m a Pantser and do not plot. By the end of the first chapter, I knew she worked for the Nine World Protection Agency, had a berserker work-partner called Augustus who could turn into a bear, and she was hunting someone who had kidnapped wolf-skin children. From there, the idea took wings and Where Ravens Soar was born.
4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.
MC: Wow! This one is hard. I was a tomboy as a child. Most of my memories are of me climbing trees, getting nails stuck in my feet and driving my mother to madness. For example: We were going to a party, so my mother dressed me in a frilly frock, white socks and black painted shoes. I hated it, but it had rained the night before. So, while my mother was getting herself ready, I decided to sit in a puddle. As you can imagine, my mother wasn’t happy, but I got to wear something less girly.
4Q: Many creative people have their favorite spot to either write, or paint, etc. What’s your like? Any particular writing habits?
MC: I need mood music. I make a new playlist for each book I write.
4Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
MC: Just a thank you for having me.
Excerpt from The Bound – Hers to Save, Part One.
A YA, fantasy book written in British English.
(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)
The wind whistled outside, rattling loose shingles on the roof. Aveline lay awake on her small, straw pallet, listening to the obscure sounds of bleating sheep. The heated stones at her feet had long since lost their warmth, and her old, scratchy blanket did little to hold away the bitter cold filling the house.
Air laced with the stench of mead, and Aveline's own quiet desperation filled her nostrils. Her father sat slouched in his armchair. The warm, flickering glare from a tallow candle reflected off a silver flagon each time he lifted it to his lips. Aveline pretended to sleep. She covered her mouth and held in the urge to cough. Even though she was on the other side of the room from the dying fire, the thick, noxious smoke made her throat hoarse. After a while, her father staggered to his feet and stumbled over to his bed, and she breathed out a small sigh of relief.
She observed a family of mice scurrying across the floor as she counted to a hundred in her mind. Her father's loud snores drifted from across the room. Now was her chance to escape. Drawing back the blanket, Aveline crawled from her bed. She slipped her hand under the straw mattress and found the silver penny she had hidden there. She’d been tempted to spend it on food a hundred times, but something always held her back.
Aveline grabbed a hessian sack from the floor, gathering up what little clothes she could. She snuck toward the dining table, wrapping up a few small portions of leftover cheese and salted venison in a piece of cloth. Placing the bag near the front door, she tiptoed to a wooden chest lying in the room’s corner and raised the lid. As she picked up her mother's boots, her heart thumped in her chest.
Aveline slinked towards the door, and spotted the little rabbit Ethan had carved lying discarded on the floor. She snatched the wooden animal and placed it in her pocket.
Though her brother treated her with scorn, she detested the prospect of leaving him behind. Aveline had raised Ethan since their mother died from childbirth, and she didn’t begrudge him their father's love, although she received none herself. When she was younger, she always thought she must have done something wrong to anger her father, but as she grew older, she realised he must have hated her because she looked so much like her mother.
Slipping out into the night, Aveline squatted on the ground and pulled her mother’s boots onto her feet. A sad smile graced her face as she knotted the laces. Standing, she paused one last time to glance back at her old run-down home, with its tatty, red door. She had an ache deep in the pit of her stomach as she turned away. How does one leave behind a part of themselves and not feel hollow inside? And that was what Ethan was to her. She'd not found the courage required to run away before because of him. She recalled a time when he followed her around whilst she struggled to get on with her duties. His small, chubby hands would hold onto her skirts and refuse to let them go. He would chuckle often and offer sweet smiles, and it was only this last summer he pulled back from her. Though he'd never answered her other prayers, she made the sign of the cross over her heart, and silently beseeched God to keep her brother safe until she could come back for him.
Aveline stole her way along their garden-path and crept past the other villagers’ dimly lit homes, feeling a deep sense of finality. She knew the people sleeping inside the buildings noticed what went on in her homestead. Many times, the bruises she received were in plain sight and couldn’t be missed by those with eyes.
A sliver of moonlight pierced the blanket of darkness produced by the dense foliage. Aveline always assumed she knew the forest surrounding her village, but it was a different place at night. Even the sounds weren't the same—gone were the voices of the birds and other creatures she heard in the daylight. Instead, the trees swayed and creaked, owls hooted, and bats flew about, the noise of them flapping their wings as they swooped marking their passage.
She tiptoed around a large shrub, whose dark branches seemed like gnarled fingers reaching out at her, snagging her clothes. She bumped into something large and fell, banging her skull with a thump on the ground.
“Ouch.” Her head stung and the surrounding thicket seemed to shift to the side. The sound of the animals faded away as if the whole woodland held its breath. She sat up, and reached behind her head, touching a painful lump under her hair. Aveline peered through her fringe. The moonlight reflected off something enormous and silver. She clambered to her feet and took precarious steps backwards, blinking her eyes. Nope, still there.
She couldn't believe what she was looking at standing in front of her. Four times her height and covered with silver scales stood a dragon. Bat-like wings tucked tight to its sides and enormous claws sunk into the soft forest floor. They could tear the meat from bones.
Aveline scrambled away from the creature. She must have bumped her head harder than she thought. No one had spotted a dragon in fifty years, they were all thought to have fallen in the Last Great Battle. Sometimes she believed they were a fable that the folk around her village made up.
Maybe her mind summoned up the creature to help her cope with the terror of being on her own in the dark. She recalled seeing the brightly coloured sketches of dragons in the books her mother would read to her as an infant.
“Do not be scared, I will not hurt you,” a deep-toned voice said in her mind.
She sucked in a sharp breath and looked up into a pair of olive and gold eyes. An overwhelming wave of calm and safety blanketed her in its warmth and her panic evaporated. She hadn't felt this way since her mother last cradled her in loving arms. It was a wonderful feeling, almost like a forgotten dream. Running forward, she wrapped her arms around a scaled leg as thick as a tree trunk. He seemed real, but he couldn’t be. Could he?
“Can you not see in the dark? I heard you stumble, and scare away all the tasty animals,” said the dragon.
“Sorry,” Aveline replied as she let go of the dragon’s leg and took several steps back. She rummaged in her sack, pulled out a piece of salted venison, and held a palm towards the dragon. “You can share my food.”
“Thank you.” His rough tongue scooped up the meat from her hand. “Where are you going?”
“Far away from here,” she murmured.
“I will come with you. Keep you safe. You look too scrawny to be a meal, but I don’t think it mattered to the pack of wolves following you before I frightened them away.”
Aveline’s eyes widened.
* * *
|Photo by Michael Samuelson Photography.|
It was just after dawn when they made it to the edge of the forest. Aveline halted and took in the never-ending green fields.
"Aeolius is what my mother named me before she vanished," he communicated telepathically.
"So, you’re motherless as well. What happened to yours?"
“I do not know. I remember her telling me to not be afraid, and then she was gone. I have not seen her since.”
Aveline leaned her head against the creature’s scaly side. “We have each other now.”
Picking a direction, they set off. The sun travelled across the cloud-filled sky as they trudged over a carpet of grass and thick undergrowth, stopping at an occasional leafy bower to rest. There were no roads, buildings, or signs of humanity. But with each stride farther away from her father, she was moving closer towards carving her own destiny.
Thank you so much Michelle for being our guest this week.
For you readers, thank you for visiting. I hope you'll leave a comment below.
****For those of you that would like to know more about Michelle and her writing, please follow these links;
The Deceived: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0711QD4VF/
Where Ravens Soar: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HP9QCQB/