And now, here's a special little treat for you, because I know our readers love strange, weird, and wonderful things. A little old-timey horror music on the theremin, originally known as the Aetherphone. Here's the inventor explaining it. He starts playing your classic haunted house spooky music 15 seconds in so be patient. You'll laugh! Until next time...
Today I am joined by special guest, Mischief, favorite gargoyle of Garnock the Sorcerer. Thanks to a special translation spell that I found in the Enchanted Library at Beacon House, I should be able to understand him long enough to ask a few questions about what it's like being a gargoyle.
Inquiring minds want to know.
G: So, Mischief, how did you first come to be?
M: So glad you asked so I could take the chance to clear up some silly misconceptions about our kind. Actually, you see, it is not well known, but most gargoyles hatch from an egg in the underworld, where it's nice and warm, like an incubator.
G: An egg??
M: It's true. You must be confused if you doubt me. I understand there is some sort of myth going around that gargoyles were originally sculpted by medieval stone masons to serve as water spouts, made to carry the rainwater away from the walls of the great cathedrals so they would not be harmed by erosion, and last for many, many centuries. Nothing but a glorified water spout! How insulting. It may be true of some, but certainly not of the better class of gargoyles, such as those of us to be chosen to become the familiars of a powerful sorcerer.
G: Indeed. What exactly do your duties as a familiar entail?
M: Oh, mostly odd jobs. Appear when you're summoned. Fetch the items he needs to make a potion. Spy on persons of interest for him. Harass enemies. That sort of thing.
G: You're very good at harassment, aren't you?
M: I like to think so. :)
With that, our special guest, obviously bored, flies away to go cause trouble elsewhere. Which is just is well, because the translation spell has just fizzled out! Until next time. ;)
If you're reading THE DARK PORTAL, you may have come across a mention of "The Souling Song." If you haven't got to that part yet, you soon will! We thought you might like to hear what it sounds like. All story ghosts aside, E and I both find this song incredibly haunting. Below the audio is an old Victorian photo of some of the kinds of real, historical poor children who might have had to sing for a few pennies to buy something to eat. In this case, these were coalmine child workers.
To learn more about how life was for them, click the picture. It will take you to an article from the UK Daily Mail, by Annabel Venning, which discusses a recent scholarly book entitled Childhood And Child Labour In The British Industrial Revolution, by Professor Jane Humphries. Unfortunately, if you think that child labor - virtually child slavery - is the relic of a bygone age, brace yourself and click this grim infographic from the US Dept of Labor, which we came across in our research. It shows the prevalence of child labor in poor countries today. Chilling. (Once you open it, it will enlarge if you click on it.)
Greetings, my gargoyles! Today we're kicking off our Story Extras with a little Behind-the-Scenes about our new release, The Gryphon Chronicles, Book Three: THE DARK PORTAL, and where better to start than by taking a look at the setting?
So how do a pair of American writers end up writing a fantasy novel set in Wales? Well, that's easy. First of all Wales is just plain cool. Just ask Dr. Who. He returns to the Welsh city of Cardiff all the time. And if you don't think the bow-tie wearing Time Lord is really all that cool, then A) What's wrong with you, and B) Just look at their country's flag, the Red Dragon. Seriously cool.
But more importantly, using Wales as a setting was inevitable when you consider the fact that one half of E.G. Foley (ahem, that would be G) was OBSESSED as a kid with reading the great Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander (who was also an American, despite his Welsh name) over and over and over again.
G: Yes, the summer between fourth and fifth grade my family moved to a new state (from PA to New Jersey) and I was pretty devastated to leave my friends and grandparents and cousins behind. At our new home, I didn't know anybody, I didn't like it, and I did not know what to do with myself. In such situations, books can always come to a kid's rescue. I re-read Taran of Caer Dallben's whole saga five or six times in that summer, taking breaks only to try during that loooong summer to train my dog to do Dog Agility tricks, but she really wasn't into it. At all. LOL. So I just went back to reading.
So, Wales was always a draw, and as I started researching it, I grew all the more intrigued. I thought I would just show you a little of what I found so you can see it for yourself and perhaps picture Jake's next adventure better in your imagination.
First of all, you do know, right, that Wales is, um, attached to England. If you didn't know that, you might want to duck before "Old Sack," the headmaster ghost, whacks you in the noggin with an eraser from all the way up at the chalkboard. Wales is the dark greeny bit on the map below.
Jake's Welsh estate of Plas-y-Fforest is in the northern half of the country, in the mountains of Snowdonia. Nowadays, people flock to Snowdonia National Park to go hiking and camping, birdwatching, fishing, and communing with nature. Isn't it magnificent? Click here for more pictures and info about the region.
Moving on, when you read the book, you'll notice that the kids visit the town of Llanberis. So why don't we go visit it, too? Let's take the train. :)
Now make sure you realize that when you're looking at the video of these lovely woods through which the train winds, don't forget, there are probably pixies living in the trees. Just sayin'.
Now then, as you noticed in these pix and vids, there are all sorts of mountains in Snowdonia. In a future blog, we're going to looks at what's UNDER them. You are gonna love it.
Before I wrap this up, I must mention one of the most remarkable aspects of Wales and that is of course it's unusual place names. Wales boasts having the longest name of any village in the world. Behold: Here's the full name and below it, a little audio player so you can hear it the name is pronounced. (Hopefully the audio will work.)
If you find yourself as charmed as we are by Wales and want to enjoy it more (short of a holiday there, like Jake and friends!) then you should look for this Hugh Grant movie of a few years ago, set in Wales. Really cute! I believe at one point in the story he is as puzzled by the Welsh place names as I am!
And finally, because we know our readers are smart and like learning new things, here's a friendly Welsh fellow called Jason Shepherd who will teach us all how to say hello and goodbye in Welsh.
Well, my friends, Da Bo! Until next time. Please visit again for more Story Extras about THE DARK PORTAL! Hope you enjoy the story. xo, G. and E. too :)
Ladies & Gentlemen!
We are thrilled to announce the upcoming arrival of The Gryphon Chronicles, Book Three: THE DARK PORTAL, on sale Thursday, October 10th (10-10-13) in both e-book and paperback! (May show up sooner in some outlets, but 10/10 is official date.)
Just in time for Halloween, this is the spookiest tale in the series yet! We've upped the danger, but kept the humor that balances it out. We're back in the UK with this tale (Wales this time) and once again, the gang is back together for the adventure.
Last time, we visited with giants way above the world, at the top of the great "Beanstalk" (the Tree of Legend, Yggdrasil). This time, we'll be going underground to explore the world of the noble dwarven folk. Meanwhile, the stakes in the series continue to rise for our young hero.
In Book One, THE LOST HEIR, Jake finally learned the truth about who he really is. In Book Two, JAKE AND THE GIANT, he started getting the hang of using his powers and seeing the pattern of what his future life could be like as Lightrider, following in his parents' footsteps.
Now, in Book Three, THE DARK PORTAL, he will be tested on a deeper level...to find out where his allegiances truly lie.
And so, without further ado, E.G. Foley proudly presents THE DARK PORTAL!
The only way out is through....
Download this PDF to read sample chapters - The Prologue through Chapter Two.
(Or scroll down for back cover blurb as well as opening pages.)
From the Back Jacket:
The Pickpocket Who Inherited a Goldmine
After his harsh beginnings as a rough-and-tumble orphan on the streets of London, Jake Everton takes his rightful place as the long-lost heir of an aristocratic family with magical powers – his personal quest, to follow in his slain parents’ footsteps as a Lightrider in the age-old battle of good versus evil. In the fantastical nooks and crannies of the Victorian Age, Jake and his friends
(including his pet Gryphon!) find no shortage of adventure – righting magic-related wrongs, solving supernatural mysteries, and exploring wondrous new worlds.
A Dark Presence…
Something stalks a quaint town in the misty mountains of Wales, attacking humans and magic folk
alike. Jake and his friends must get to the bottom of it – and in the land of deep, dwarven mines, the bottom can be very dark, indeed.
Dive into The Gryphon Chronicles, a rollicking historical fantasy series (with a hint of steampunk!) that’s as much fun for grownups as it is for kids, from the imagination of New York Times bestselling author, E.G. Foley.
“A wonderful novel in the same vein as Harry Potter, full of nonstop action, magical creatures, and the reality that was Queen Victoria’s England.” ~The Reading Café
Prologue: The Sorcerer's Tomb
A hundred and fifty feet underground in perfect darkness, a labyrinth of black,
twisty tunnels snaked beneath the mountains of Wales. And in one such little-explored passage of the Harris Mine, a simple man called Barney had just discovered a curious phenomenon.
He angled his handheld wedge against a big, tough knuckle of coal and gave it a whack with his hammer to show his fellow miners. “See what I mean? Got a funny sound just there, ain’t it?” He tapped again, harder. “Sounds…I dunno, hollow.”
“Yer head’s hollow,” grumbled crew chief Martin. Nevertheless, to Mr. Martin’s experienced eye, the problem was plain: They’d hit a stubborn section of the coal seam. He gave his men a nod. “Let’s blast it.”
Crawling about awkwardly in the narrow, claustrophobic space barely four feet tall, the men
fetched the heavy hand-cranked drill and started churning it.
The tip of the drill slowly pierced a thin hole into the rock face, where they would soon pour in the blasting powder. Cranking the drill was backbreaking labor, just like every other job in the coalmine and its sister company, the Harris Ironworks. But coal made the steam that forged the iron that ran the British Empire, which, in turn, ruled the world. And so these rough, rugged miners saw themselves as unsung heroes of a sort. To be sure, not a one of them was ever afraid of the dark.
Even when they should be.
At length, the skinny hole into the bedrock was drilled, the blasting powder carefully poured in.
Daredevil Collins volunteered to light it—always a dangerous job. Cocky as ever, he held the squib carelessly between his teeth and lit it as if it were a cigar instead of a type of firecracker. Swiping it quickly out of his mouth, Collins shoved it into the hole the men had drilled.
As it burned its way toward the little pile of blasting powder, he scrambled after his crew, who had already scuttled out of range to wait for the explosion.
All four men held their ears and opened their mouths slightly, waiting for the shift in
“Ha, ha!” The miners cheered out of habit at the blast.
“That’ll teach her!” said Martin.
With pickaxes and hammers at the ready, the men crawled back to harvest the chunks of coal that had been knocked loose from the mountain’s grip by the explosion.
As they approached, the air was so thick with dust and smoke that it blackened their faces until all they could see of their mates was the whites of each other’s eyes. As the men pressed on, the tiny
oil lanterns on their hats glowed like four lonely lighthouses in that thickest type of fog, known as a London Peculiar.
Martin whistled for Jones to bring the coal cart so they could load up their fresh haul and carry it
The more coal they brought up to the surface each day, the more money they made for their families. Of course, their pay went right back to the Company through the rent on their houses, owned by the Harris Mine, or through the goods they bought at the Harris Company Store.
The Company, in short, was more powerful around here than Queen Victoria.
“Look!” Barney suddenly burst out with a gasp. “I don’t believe it! I-I was right! It was hollow!” He pointed as the smoke cleared to a hole they had blasted in the underground wall.
It should not have been there.
Indeed, it was impossible. There shouldn’t be a hollow space left after their controlled blast, just an indentation exposing deeper layers of the earth’s solid bedrock holding up the mountain.
“Well, beggar me,” he murmured, marveling at it.
Bending forward to shine his headlamp in, Barney peered through the hole that opened into a darkness ten times blacker than even the rest of the mine. Then he waved his crewmates over. “Fellas, come and see!”
“What is it now?” Martin grumbled, coming up behind him.
“You got to see for yourself. There’s some kind of room in there!” Barney said in wonder,
“Don’t be daft. A room? Underground cavern, maybe…”
But as the others crowded round, even stern Mr. Martin had to admit that it was, indeed, an ancient-looking room with smooth, chiseled walls.
Smith squinted into the midnight darkness beyond the hole. “What’s a room doing all the way down here?”
“How should I know,” Martin said. An uneasy chill ran down his spine, for Wales was not just
the land of coal and mist and unexpected spellings. It was also a place of legend. The sacred homeland of countless bards and sorcerers of old; the birthplace of Merlin himself, according to some; a land of ancient magic, mighty castles, and time-forgotten kings.
Collins had that daredevil gleam in his eyes once again as he glanced around at the others. “Fancy a look, boys? C’mon, let’s go in!”
“I’m not so sure that’s such a good idea,” Barney warned him, but coalminers as a rule were not afraid of much.
Even when they really should be.
“C’mon, leave it. We’ve got to cut our support timbers to prop up that hole,” Martin said. “It ain’t stable.”
“Ah, just for a moment.” With a laugh, Collins vaulted through the hole, and so was the first to see the ancient, heavy table in the center of the mysterious chamber and the chair…
With a skeleton sitting in it.
A skeleton decked in strange jewelry and wearing the floppy hat and moldy velvet robes of a Renaissance-era scholar.
Collins stopped in his tracks when he saw it and pointed, aghast. “Bones!”
Barney, who was following right behind him, ran into Collins’s back on account of not watching where he was going. He was too busy staring all around at the strange subterranean chamber, his eyes wide.
The rest followed, and when they all saw the skeleton, they let out exclamations of
wonder and shock; the four big, fearless coalminers unconsciously started huddling together with a creeping, superstitious sense of doom.
For they now realized that they had just disturbed the dead.
“This is no ordinary chamber, my lads,” Martin said in a hushed voice, taking control of the situation, as their leader. He looked around at all the odd things inside the chamber, and the bones. “It’s a tomb.”
To continue reading, download the Dark Portal Sample Chapters here.