Thursday, April 17, 2014

"The Power and the Fury" by James Erith

The Power and the Fury
(Eden Chronicles Book One)
by James Erith

The Power and the Fury is the first book in James Erith's new Eden Chronicles series for children ages 10 and up. You can read my interview with the author and enter the giveaway for a chance to win one of three signed paperback copies of the book (open internationally).

When an ancient prophecy arrives in the form of dreams to unsuspecting fourteen year old Isabella and her twin siblings, Archie and Daisy, it also comes with curious magical gifts. But there's more to these gifts than meets the eye for this prophecy was made deep in the vaults of time and the past doesn't give up its secrets easily. Unless the siblings can decipher their dreams and harness these gifts, there are only two ways forward: survival or destruction.
Fans of Harry Potter, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and The Hunger Games will find themselves sucked in and blown along at lightning speed to a conclusion as surprising as the story's new breed of heroes are unconventional.
A magical debut that will leave you hungry for more. 

Chapter One
Archie tensed as he heard it again.
No, it was nothing, he thought, just a gust of wind rattling a loose tile on the roof or the strange ‘yessss!’ sound that Daisy made when scoring goals in her sleep. Then again, it could be Isabella sleep-talking about her science experiments. He relaxed and exhaled. Her last sleep-talking dream was something to do with atmospheric pressure and barometers or some other meteorological happening. Archie smiled and rolled over; who else but his sisters could dream of such odd and opposite things – football and science.
He rubbed his eyes and yawned. His eyelids began to close but just before they locked tight, he noticed something directly above Daisy’s head that forced them open.
A shiver ran through his body. He closed his eyes, counted to three and opened them again, but it was still there. Archie gasped. Was it an angel or a ghost?
It couldn’t be either, could it? I mean, when had anyone seen an angel, really seen one? Therefore, it had to be a ghost. But neither existed, or did they?
Archie shivered and a cold sweat broke out over his forehead. He couldn’t move a muscle – not to scream, not even to breathe – but his brain was working overtime. So if it wasn’t an angel or a ghost, he thought, what was it? A strange species of spider that looked as if it was covered by a thin opaque jellyfish? No, it wasn’t possible. In any case, what kind of creature sprayed blue forks of electricity from its middle?
And what was it doing over Daisy?
Archie didn’t want to stare but he couldn’t help it. His lungs were burning and he needed to breathe so he exhaled – as quietly as he could – desperate not to draw attention to himself. As he expelled the air, he didn’t dare take his eyes off the creature.
Now that his eyes were adjusting to the light, Archie found he could see delicate claw-like contraptions at the end of its long slender legs that were moving at amazing speeds, in perfect time with Daisy’s every breath. As if they were somehow ... feeding her?
Archie’s heart pounded as a flurry of questions crowded his brain. Does it hurt? What if it’s poison? What if it comes towards him – what then, will it do the same to me, the same to Isabella, Old Man Wood, Mrs Pye – everyone in the house? His heart raced and a nausea settled in his stomach. What if it was an alien and hundreds more were about to drop out of the sky? Shouldn’t he do something?
And then another thought struck him and, absurd as it sounded it felt... possible. Really possible. What if this creature – this ‘spidery-angel’ – had a connection with the strange dreams he’d been having. What if this spidery-angel thing was, in fact – at this very second – giving Daisy a dream? It felt so impossible but so right and in a flash of clarity it seemed to make total sense. His heart skipped a beat.
As if hearing his thoughts, the spidery-angel stopped, turned its head and stared at him with deep black eyes like cavernous empty holes. Archie froze. A chill rushed into his brain and in the very next moment the creature had vanished. Gone. Just like that.
Archie stared out into the dark night air at nothing, his heart thumping like a massive drum in his chest. Gradually, the iciness began to thaw but Archie remained as still as he could, terrified it might reappear – and reappear directly on top of him. After what felt like a month, he sat up and shook out his arm where he’d been lying on it and wiped the sweat from his brow.
All he could see was the fabric of the large drape perched like a tent above him and the outline of the thick old wooden rafters beyond. And opposite lay Daisy, now fast asleep, snoring, as though nothing had happened. He sighed, relieved to hear his voice.
Had the spidery creature been in his head, a figment of his imagination? Was it another dream? He pinched himself and felt it. It had to be real, in which case, what was it doing to his twin sister with those tiny claws on the end of its long legs, sucking her brains out? Archie chuckled. Not possible! No one in their right mind would steal those. Daisy’s feet were wonderfully gifted for football and running, but brains, no. That would be pointless.
Archie replayed the scene in his mind again and again as though searching through a film. He remembered the way the creature waited for her deep inhalations and then as she drew air into her lungs, its tiny claws spun like crazy. Each time he returned to the same conclusion; it wasn’t taking anything from Daisy – more giving her something. And whatever it was, she had drawn it deep into her body.
Archie flicked on the bedside lamp and a gentle yellow glow filled the attic room. From the far side Isabella groaned and rolled over. Archie waited until she had settled down and slipped out from under his duvet. He tiptoed silently towards Daisy’s bed, a couple of wooden planks groaning in protest as he went. He knelt down and surveyed her. She was silent and at peace, as pretty as anything with her golden hair tumbling wildly over her pillow, her mouth parted. He could detect her musky sleepy smell. He leaned in until his face was just a few inches from hers and inspected her nose, her chin, her lips, her cheeks and ears. But there were no odd marks or stains. No bruises, no bleeding, nothing amiss.
Archie put his head in his hands and sighed. Perhaps he had imagined it – perhaps it was part of another nightmare. It was the only possible explanation. He rubbed his face in his hands and readied himself to go back to bed when suddenly Daisy gasped as though she’d been stuck underwater and burst through to find air. Archie’s heart nearly stopped.
She groaned and tossed her head from side to side. Without warning she sat bolt upright as though a massive electric shock had smashed into her – her face missing his by a whisker, her wavy hair brushing his nose.
Archie’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. He could feel her breath marking his cheek. He swayed out of the way and noted that her eyes were shut tight. She was still asleep! Now she was mumbling but he couldn’t make out the words. He listened harder.
What was it ... something like, “odd” followed by, “wo-man?”
She repeated it, this time louder. This time the word “odd” sounded more like “blood” or “flood”. And there was something else. Yes, a word like, “a-shunt” before “woman” and then a word like ... “bread”. That was it. But what did it mean? “Blood – a-shunt – woman – bread?” Was it a driving accident?
Again Daisy said these words, again and again, growing louder and louder. And now it sounded like, “flood a shunt woman Fred.”
‘Flood a shunt woman Fred?’ Archie repeated. What was she talking about?
In a flash it came to him. He reeled. Immediately he knew he wasn’t mistaken. He said it with her, as she yelled it out. The first word was definitely “flood”, followed by, “Ancient Woman ... dead.”
Archie felt the blood drain from his face. He stood up and stared at his twin, his mouth open. It wasn’t possible – it couldn’t be. How could she have access to his very own nightmare, the exact same dream he’d had over the past few nights! The flooding and the haggard old woman?
Was it a ‘twin thing’? No. ‘Twin things’ never happened to them.
He felt a drop on his hands and noticed tears falling from Daisy’s eyes, eyes which were wide open and staring at a fixed point across the room.
Then, without warning, Daisy screamed a scream of pure terror. Archie cowered, covering his ears. Now she began to shake and her hands tried to reach out as though to an invisible figure. Words spilled out incoherently.
Archie trembled.
A moment later her ramblings suddenly stopped. Her eyes opened wide and with a look of absolute dread and fear mixed upon her face, she spoke out, her words feint like whispers.
Archie leaned in but wished he hadn’t for her next words seem to stab him, as though a knife had been plunged deep into his heart and then twisted round and round until there was little left.
Her words were: ‘No, please Archie.’ Then louder until she was yelling, ‘NO ARCHIE ... NO!’

Wow! I can’t recommend it enough. I ended up having to read the final pages outside the tube station! It’s sort of totally original with loads of twists and incredibly cool characters. I simply can’t wait for the next one. I love Daisy who is just hilarious and Old Man Wood who is going to be something pretty special ... I can’t believe it is Erith’s first book - it is such an awesome story and loads more to come ... can’t wait.

Interview With the Author
Hi James Erith thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, The Power and The Fury.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
It’s aimed at kids from the ages of 10 and above, though I keep getting lovely messages from Grandparents and parents telling me how much they enjoyed it. So I suppose it’s a cross-over as well.
How did you get the idea for the novel?
I got a bash on my head while walking our dog when we lived in North Yorkshire. (The book is set by the North Yorkshire Moors). I was pushing my girls in their buggy when our blind dog found his way into a pig pen. I eventually hauled him out and after scolding him, stood up directly under a branch. My children must have thought I’d gone crackers. The following day I got delayed concussion and, with my wife just about to give birth, I ended up going for a brain scan. My mother came up to help and cut her leg on the car door, so at one point all three of us were in the same hospital for completely different reasons.
As I recovered I found I had a bite on my neck from a spider that I can remember running across my face. It gave me this wonderful notion of ‘what if dreams are given’. I loved this thought and instantly could see so many possibilities. Then my eldest daughter, who was five, ran in telling me this brilliant story all about Adam and Steve. After I’d stopped laughing, a light bulb flickered into life. I realised there was some mileage to delve around the Creation story. Et voila!
But I wouldn’t recommend a bash on the head for inspiration!
That's quite a story! What was the hardest part to write in this book?
The beginning, without doubt. It drove me totally bonkers.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
For kids it’s a fun, roller-coasting, thrilling adventure with fantastic, interesting, lovable characters. For adults the foundations of deeper spiritual and larger questions loom large...
How long did it take you to write this book? What is your writing routine?
About eight years. For six of those I wrote when I could and I was either at my desk at 5am or until I fell asleep on the keyboard, my finger stuck on the ‘z’ key.
Then I sold my business and picked up a literary agent for the Eden Chronicles series at about the same time. At that point it was a huge book and a canny editor suggested I go back and turn it into a series. So that’s what I did. The Power and The Fury is the first part – an introduction to the de Lowe’s and their adventures. But it was harder to make it work as a standalone book with its own story arc than I realized.
How did you get your book published?
With difficulty! The publishing world is a fortress, with walls even higher than before. The route in is like a being churned up in a mixer and hoping enough of you comes through at the end - not too broken, ideas intact, spirit not overtly crushed. Inside the castle it is not the great wonder it once was. And it seems that breaking in is not as necessary as the new platforms are there and waiting. But this is not an easy place to negotiate.
I had two small offers but that didn’t stack up financially and editors from a couple of houses stalled over my manuscript for months. Eventually I got fed up and did it myself. It’s the same story I’m hearing time and again. Don’t get me wrong, it would be great to get an uber money deal, but I have to find my readership before that will happen.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
When you start, write several chapters of a book and then beg someone you trust to tear it apart in analysis so that it physically hurts. Then, when you’ve stopped wanting to go at him with knives, assess your feelings. Did it hurt too much? Do you believe any of what you’ve heard and are you prepared to learn? If you waver for a minute, think very, very hard. Can you really be bothered with the endless crafting and toil and lack of cash if you’re not totally and utterly committed to your story or your goals? My other tip would be to get Scrivener.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
A spot of gardening, taking the dog for a walk or watching cricket. (My playing days are all but over!) Otherwise, I’m happy to lose myself in a book.
What does your family think of your writing?
Initially they thought I’d lost it. And for a long time my wife was very cross with me. But now that reviews are coming in with letters from people telling me how much they enjoyed it, she’s mellowed (a little). In fact, I think she’s genuinely amazed. My eldest daughter who is eleven has just finished it and loved it, and my twin brother thinks the whole series is the best thing ever. But he is incredibly biased and extremely loyal and I love him to bits.
Good to hear! Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I grew up on a farm in the countryside, in the beautiful area close to the Dedham Vale in on the Suffolk, Essex border in England, UK. I was absolutely sports mad and competitively duelled with my two brothers at every game conceivable. I had a wonderful childhood building camps and dens, pretending to be Tom Sawyer or Robinson Crusoe.
Have you travelled much?
Yes, quite a bit, especially when I was nineteen through twenty one years old. I took off for a couple of years to the sub-continent and far-east and ended up living in Australia for a year. I had some quite extraordinary experiences. Now, with children, it’s harder to get away but we like to go to Europe in the holidays.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Oh yes. One of my favourites was The Children of Cherry Tree Farm, which was read to me and my twin brother by my Grandmother when we were in bed with chicken pox when I was about eight. The story came alive as her wonderful voice resonated around the quiet bedroom. I can almost hear her now. Then came the classics, C.S. Lewis, and adventures.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Writing was always fun but I never had the confidence to really believe I could be a writer. Then when I found my story – or it found me - I absolutely knew that this was what I had to do.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Absolutely. A lot of the characters and the incidents are entirely reminiscent of my schooldays.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
That it is so original, so different and surprising. That they’re desperate for the next one!
Fantastic! What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m working on the second book in the Eden Chronicles series. It’s fast and furious with some terrific twists – from the off. We learn a little more about Old Man Wood and the children begin to grow into their ‘new’ selves. It really is unbelievably exciting.
Sounds great! Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, James. Best of luck with the rest of the series.
Thanks for having me.

About the Author
James Erith was born in Suffolk in the UK in 1970. Educated at Eton College, James had his eyes set on a sporting career but when he dived into a swimming pool and bashed his head on a step it ended that dream.
James lived in London where he designed and built gardens in the capital for several years before moving to North Yorkshire with his young family and running a garden centre.
Another crack on his head set off the idea for the Eden Chronicles of which The Power and the Fury is the first instalment. It is James' debut.
James comments: "Please don't go bashing your head for inspiration. It really hurts and is very bad for you. Thank you."

Enter the giveaway for a chance to win one of three signed copies of The Power and the Fury by James Erith.