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 :)
Music is always very inspiring to help get the creativity flowing. If you'd like to hear what The Lost Heir "sounds" like, (to us) here are the main songs that we listened to many times while writing to help us get into the feeling/mood/atmosphere of the story.
THE LOST HEIR Playlist:
Waldrick & Fionnula's theme - this is the probably "the mad waltz forever playing" in Waldrick's head - the Waltz from the Masquerade suite by Khachaturian.
Gladwin's song - Who doesn't love Celtic Woman? In this song called "Dulaman," they are singing in Gaelic, and I have no idea what they're saying, but note the Celtic pipes, the tin whistle, and the bodhrain (Irish drums).
Magical theme - The group is the famous English boys' choir, Libera, the album is Angel Voices, and the song is called Lacrymosa, which is a remix of the Saint Saens "Carnival of the Animals." Gorgeous, mystical, and magical!
God Bless Us Everyone - As heard at the end of Disney's Christmas Carol movie (which you know we love!) Sung by the master Andrea Bocelli.
Water Nymphs theme - Flower Duet from Delibes' opera Lakme (You may recognize it from the first Lara Croft Tomb Raider movie!)
(Psst! Contest 2 is underway! See the new Contest Question in the post below for another chance to win a free, autographed copy of THE LOST HEIR.) And now, back to our regular programming...
Hiya! Hope this finds you in fine fettle, as our friends across the Pond say. I am sure you young'uns enjoyed your first full week of GLORIOUS FREEDOM. (Do I sound jealous? Cuz I am.)
This weekend is Father's Day, a chance to thank our dads for all they do for us and for all the humor they (often unwittingly) add to our lives. My Dad (G speaking) has always been a jokester. My Mom has a bird phobia and it was all she could do to get herself to cook our Thanksgiving turkey each year because it meant handling a whole dead bird.
My Dad couldn't resist messing with her on this, of course. When her back was turned to go get the stuffing, he would grab the poor plucked carcass and put his hand in it like a puppet and run around her, making it "fly" around the kitchen while making loud turkey gobbling noises. My mom would run out of the kitchen screaming, and hilarity ensued. My Mom much preferred for him to stay out of trouble and go watch the Steelers game, but nooooo, not my slightly-demented (in a good way) Dad.
E's got a Dad story below, but first, take our fun Father's Day poll!
Despite many health challenges, he just keeps trucking along and doing
remarkably well. You'd never know by looking at him how many death-defying things he's had to face. Now, if you were driving behind him putt-putting down the road, you'd realize you were driving behind an old fart, but other than that, my Dad's is still quite spry. He kicks my butt at golf and Scrabble every time. (He plays mean.) But my Dad has got nine lives.
Father's Day is kind of sad for him, though, because his Dad died when he was 12. Seeing all that he's been through makes me appreciate having him around.
G: My favorite story about your dad, E, (my father-in-law) is when he dressed up as a giant blue M + M for Halloween and took his lil granddaughter trick or treating around the neighborhood.
E: Yeah, and we got the pictures if we ever need 'em for blackmail.
G: Ha, ha. I thought it was cute!!!
E: Yeah, but an M + M??
G: Aw, leave him alone. lol. Dads do goofy things, that's why they're dads, and I guess when they're grand-dads they get even goofier. *grin*
E: What about you guys? Got any good dad stories?
G: Or what's the best thing about your dad? We wanna know!
Congrats to Sandy from Ontario, winner of Contest 1! Her email was randomly drawn from all correct answers to the first contest question.
If Jake gets caught by Constable
Flanagan with the mincemeat pie that he stole from Harris the Pieman, what's the name of the infamous prison where he will be sent?
Many of you guessed it!
Whoa, look at that old place. I wouldn't want to end up there. But I have feeling Jake just might...
By the way, if you were wondering what the heck a mincemeat pie is, anyway originally it meant simply a potpie with ground beef inside of it, you know, like the crumbly meat on a taco (though not with those spices, of course). They used to blend it with fruit like apples and raisins and various spices. At some point, they took the meat out and nowadays the mincemeat you can buy in jars in specialty shops no longer contains any - it's just the fruity bits. But I digress.
Fear not if you did not win this time. We are back with a new chapter and a second chance to win. Here is your Contest Question for Contest 2. You'll have to read Chapter 2: A Family Resemblance if you want another shot at winning a free, autographed copy of the paperback LOST HEIR. Ready?
How did the old beggar ghost in the alley die?
Send in your answer as before. (No repeat winners.) Contest 2 closes on June 22, next Friday. Good luck!