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  THEM

   (Lion. ISBN: 07459 46704)                                                                         

  Read an extract . . .

  Suddenly the muddy surface beneath her feet was no longer there. She tumbled forward into water out of her depth, letting go of her staff. She went under, fighting her way up to air and light. The water had an unexpected taste of salt.

  In those few moments under the water, the world seemed to have grown suddenly dark. She was treading water now, in no danger of drowning. But she could not see back to the causeway where she had left Honesty. She had long since lost sight of Petal. She was swimming in a closed circle of lonely water.

  She opened her mouth to call, and closed it again. What was she afraid of? She listened for Honesty's voice. There was no sound. Why had the racket of birds fallen so utterly silent?

  She felt, rather than heard it coming. The whole bed of the mere seemed to heave under her. A huge rearing wave lifted her up and rolled her skywards, leaving her stomach lurching behind. Slowly she slid down the face of the wave and heard a hollow sucking from below. A shudder followed, the slap of waves on a far shore. Just for a moment she thought she heard Honesty cry out, a thin and distant wail. Then there was a roar in her ears, that was not the water or the rush of wind, before the lake rose again. She was tossed like a cork, helpless.

  In her terror, Berlewen expected fire and smoke, but the water grew very cold. Her mind was now a limitless void of blackness. No thought would come but horror, no name to make it manageable. At last the blood beating in her ears drummed out an awful syncopation. 'The Ancoth. The Ancoth...' The thing that even THEY had fled from.

          

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          Why I Wrote...                                                                            

 

             THEM

             

 

One of my favourite fantasy authors is George MacDonald. There is an Old Princess in his stories, but she is not like any other story-book princess. Sometimes she appears as a very old woman, spinning in a cobwebby attic. At other times she is a housemaid, beaten black and blue by her fellow servants. But just now and then she appears as a gloriously beautiful young woman in gorgeous clothes, living in a palace from which you can step out into the stars.

   In one story she shows herself to her friends in a purple robe and a golden crown. They want to fall down before her as their queen, but she makes them sit down at her table, even the lowest servants. Then she serves them with food and wine, as though she were the lowest of them all.

  She makes us think again about royalty. What does it mean to be a king or queen? She says to Curdie, the young miner, 'I too work for my bread... Things come to the poor that can't get in at the door of the rich.'

  This idea was in my mind when I began writing THEM. Berlewen, Honesty and Colan are on a quest. But they may  find what they are looking for where they least expect it.

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'Really compelling... the characters were very well drawn, especially Berlewen. I loved the way she turned from being selfish and directionless to so brave and insightful. My absolute favourite was the enkenethal but who could resist such a loveable creature? Truly inspiring.' Waterstones children’s book buyer.

    

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