Showing posts from 2014

Frozen Gothic

A few weeks ago, I penned a short ghost story for Christmas, inspired by Hesketh Park, a Victorian gem in Southport.

A Walk in the Park features a sinister frozen lake ... Since then, I've been fixated on frozen lakes, rivers, canals ... The weather has been chilly, and every time I'm out with the dogs, I take my camera, in the hope of catching some more Gothic versions of a winter wonderland.

Today, I was up at Guy's Cliffe Walled Garden where I've joined the volunteers helping to restore the kitchen garden. On the way back, I dropped by Guy's Cliffe House, which was a monochrome marvel. (I'm more familiar with the place in summer, for it inspired another book, The Lost Orchid.)

It looks as if the photos are in black and white, but they're not. The chilly winter sun bleached out all the colour. I've already plotted out a sequel to the short story - and I'm busy working on the sequel to The Lost Orchid. As I crunch along the frozen paths in Warwicksh…

Festive writing

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Here's a quick glimpse of how I 'pimped' my desk in Yuletide fashion. The blue LEDs are particularly good fun.

I might just have to keep these lights after the festive season.

Ice Trekker - cover success!

The dazzling cover design for my YA fantasy Ice Trekker is in the top 20 of 2014 indie children’s covers. A big thank you to my cover designer, Marion Sipes.
See the full list here.
It's is wild adventure in the frozen wastes ofKrönagar ... Monsters, myths and mayhem.
So, what's the story all about?

Ice Trekker is a teen fantasy, set in a far-off land, inhabited by friendly Grells and their not-so-friendly rivals, the ruthless Minax.

But the Grells of Hinderland are facing a bleak future.

Supplies of Blackfrost, their one remaining fuel source, have run out. Food is scarce, jobs are hard to find and worse … the greedy Minax are poised to invade from the south.

For the sake of his family, young Midge leaves home and treks north to the frozen wastes of Krønagar, an uncharted land to the north, in search of work. Set upon by thieves, he ends up as dogsbody on the Ice Trekker, a small, shabby cargo vessel that runs into trouble from the start.

Despite evil omens in the sky, monsters from…

Focus on a Victorian gem

See the photos of the real Victorian 'haunt' that inspired the book, A Walk in the Park. Hesketh Park is a gem.

I've put a selection of photos on Pinterest. Some are my own, but there are some fascinating scenes from Southport archives.

The supernatural Christmas ghost story is free on Smashwords.

By Pamela Kelt

Book trailer ... A Walk in the Park

Making book videos is fun. This time I had original material, for the story is set in Hesketh Park.

I've spent many a happy hour walking there in the past.

The music is from the brilliant Teknoaxe website.

Hope you like it ...

A Walk in the Park – a Christmas ghost story

I love Christmas ghost stories. That festive frisson that makes you appreciate what you have – thank you, Mr Dickens.

Many years ago, a colleague suggested that I write one.

Great idea, but I simply never found the time. Two decades later, however, I suddenly found I had a week to myself. My daughter was busy with exams and my husband was conferencing in Australia.

The perfect time – and it beat the heck of out redecorating the bathroom.

So, what should I write about? It struck me that I should come up with a theme that personally frightened the socks off me. It has be said that I’m simply not that suggestible, so whatever actually scared little sanguine old me would hopefully chill the bejeebers out of everyone else. A good working hypothesis.

As I walked the dogs I came up with an idea ... And I have to admit, it sent a few shivers down my spine.

The story is based on a delightful Victorian park in Southport, a small seaside resort where I grew up. Hesketh Park is a vintage gem, ful…

Dark thoughts

It struck me today that if I sliced the first two chapters of the latest work, I'd have a nifty little short story premise.

As I trundled through Crackley Wood on a crisp, winter's day, the rest of the story just popped into my head. It is bonkers, macabre and deliciously Gothic.

Working title? Monsters in the Museum, or some such. This is a clue, but I reckon you won't get it - I'm giving nothing away yet!

I've also come up with another idea - Death in the Peach House.

You've heard of locked room mysteries? This is a locked garden mystery. It was inspired by my latest venture - volunteering to help restore Guy's Cliffe Walled Garden, just outside Warwick.

While others were digging for Britain last week, I adjusted my hard hat and carried on with clearing out the broken glass and other rubbish from said peach house. I even found a peach stone! Will they plant it? I hope so.

By Pamela Kelt

Fantastic fern find

Busy researching ferns, today. I'm especially intrigued by Athyrium filix-femina 'Victoriae'.

Victorians’ passion for ferns knew no bounds and they lusted after all the monstrous and genetically deformed plants they could lay their hands on, the more mutant the better.

Lady ferns were especially sought-after, as being one of Britain’s native ferns that yielded huge numbers of varieties such as Polystichum setiferum, the Soft Shield Fern, which gave over four hundred, and most of all the lady fern, Athyrium filix-femina, with over seven hundred.

One variety was found by student James Cosh who stepped on it while jumping over a wall, and gave the original to be planted at Buchanan Castle in Stirlingshire. It gets its name because the leaves or ‘pinnae’ which break from the main stem in pairs at an angle to each other, creating a ‘V’ – for Victoria, the reigning monarch.

The diagonal lattice effect is quite charming. It seems the ‘Victoriae’ is also tall, strong growing and u…

Introducing Miss Claramina Dart of True Haven

Find out more about TRUE HAVEN and the mysterious island of Sulisia by checking out a character interview with the resourceful Miss Dart.

Pop by the delightful blog of fellow author Kai Strand for a different take on this Regency-inspired fantasy fiction in her building character series.

By Pamela Kelt

True or false?

Regency-inspired YA fantasy fiction True Haven ... now on the other side of the Atlantic. True!

The Regency era was a time of extremes. The rich were almost obscenely rich, while the poor led a desperate existence, living from hand to mouth.

The excesses of the rich are legend, the tone set by the Prince Regent himself, who took up the reins of power  from 1811 to 1820 after his father was legally declared mad. The future George IV was known for his lavish spending, gambling, womanising and toping. At one point, he had debts of a staggering £650,000. It’s still a tidy sum today, so the mind boggles.

Read more here.

How well do you know the Regency era?

To mark the launch of True Haven, a Regency-inspired fantasy adventure, welcome to ....

The True Haven - TRUE OR FALSE QUIZ How well do you know the Regency era?
Just to set the record straight ... I understand that the Regency era is generally acknowledged to be between 1811-1820 when the “Prince Regent” took up the reins of power after his father was legally declared mad. 
Actually, some of these topics are more generally Georgian, but I hope I’ll be forgiven. It's not a contest, just a bit of fun. Scroll down for the answers.
1. Lots of Georges in the Georgian era. And one Herbert. True or false?
2. It was a time of change. The Agrarian Revolution, for instance. True or false?
3. The average lifespan in the Regency era was between 19 and 26 depending on where you lived. True or false? 4. It was an era of colonisation. Captain Bligh claimed for Britain the islands of New Zealand and the eastern coast of Australia. True or false?

5. Revolution was in the air. The American War of Indepen…

A matter of perspective

Even when I was little, I was short. By this I mean, shorter than just about everyone else. Children are vicious little beasts and teased me constantly. My pet hate was to be shoved to the front of photographed groups – even in the senior sixth form (and Deputy Head Girl, to boot) I was seated with the ‘ickle’ first years. They also called me ‘snitch’. I explained that it should really be ‘titch’ as snitch meant something quite different. That went down like a hot air balloon out of gas.

It’s not hard to see why I adored fantasy stories mingling little and large. It probably all began with The Borrowers by Mary Norton. I loved the fearless Arrietty Clock, and was enthralled by a tiny and resourceful heroine who had as much impact as a ‘giant’. Then there was Gulliver’s Travels and it's cleverness. And who can forget Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ... ? Oh, how I longed for a magic potion to make me tall. Tall people are in charge, right?

Back in the real world, I fi…

All about True Haven ...

I was lucky enough to be assigned the talented and enthusiastic Bella Book as my editor for True Haven (out on Friday). She recently put me on the spot with some challenging questions on the book and the writing process.

With such an apt name, she should have been a character in the story.
You can read the interview on the True Haven blog if you have a moment ...
By Pamela Kelt

Regency inspiration

True Haven ...

… is a period fantasy adventure story set in a Regency-style world where a lively young seamstress escapes from a grim workhouse in the beautiful but deadly city of True Haven.

Meet Claramina Dart, a young seamstress. She thinks of herself as a tailor's apprentice, however.

Independent, smart, questioning ... she adapts quickly to circumstances and uses her wits to survive.

She lives in Mudwells. Overcrowded, foul-smelling, corrupt. But it's home.

‘Mina' has to take care of a young assistant, Barley Spindle. But then he is unfairly arrested and she steps in to save him.

Find out more on the companion website. Well, it's more of a blog, but there you are ...

Frog's wine, anyone?

Bingo; Blue Ruin; Blue Tape; Daffy; Diddle; Drain; Frog’s Wine; Geneva; Heart’s Ease; Jackey; Lady Dacre’s Wine; Lightning; Max; Rag Water; Sky Blue; South Sea Mountain; Strip Me Naked; White Ribbon; White Tape; White Wool.

Whatever am I talking about?
These are all 18th-century nicknames for gin. I’ve just picked some sloes and was hunting for a recipe – and inevitably got caught up with some Georgian history. I've become a little addicted to the era while I was researching the latest book, True Haven. So, here goes ...

It is commonly thought that gin was invented around 1650 in the Netherlands by Dr Sylvuis, also known Franz de la Boé. He was Professor of Medicine at Leyden, Holland, and intended this 'medicine' as a remedy for kidney disorders. He used neutral grain spirits flavoured with the oil of juniper. He called it 'genever' after the French term genièvre meaning juniper. By 1655 it was already being produced commercially and English soldiers serving in the a…

Jane Austen was here

If you recall, I avoided Jane Austen at school. However, this is not to say I don’t love the film adaptations. Favourite of all is Lost in Austen, a quirky rethinking.

Imagine my surprise to find that Miss Austen spent a formative three weeks at Stoneleigh Abbey, just five minutes’ drive from where we live.
It is no longer an abbey, Downton fans, but a Jacobean mansion and Georgian ‘extension’ that makes St Pancras look like the corner shop. There is much that inspired the author, from the chapel, to portraits of family members and, no doubt, the fabulous grounds.
To our delight, there was ...
A west wing!an orangeriereferences to Bonnie Prince Charliefabulous furnishingsexotic chandelierspanelled gentleman’s quartersclassic chapelmanicured lawns ...
I would go on, but you should take a visit for yourself. Our guide was brilliant. By the way, there are more pictures on Pinterest.

They are happy to regale you with quirky details that should appeal. The impressive facade of the West Wing was…