Hooray! Delighted to tell you that my new book BRIGHTLING will light up your bookshelf on 2nd January.BRIGHTLING is published by the wonderful Hot Key Books. Despite the different style of cover, it’s the second story featuring flying horses and characters from THE SPIN too. For this book, Oliver Twist was my inspiration – a Charles Dickens novel again and another of my favourites.
My niece asked me what ‘Brightling’ was and I didn’t tell her because it isn’t explained until right at the end of the story and I didn’t want to spoil it for her. But since it is the title of the book, I thought I’d just say a few words about it here.
There are many references in the novel to light, fire and illumination. The tale is set in a quasi Victorian world where there is no electricity.
Remember the old woman in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale The Tinder-Box? Every time the soldier struck it, a magic dog appeared… I love that idea, though I haven’t any magical tinder boxes in this book. When matches were invented the tinder boxes became obsolete. Here’s an old tinder box:
You make a spark and then catch it on some strands of wool or cloth which burns quickly. It took time and you had to have some sort of kindling and a tinder box to make a light. Matches are much easier… The Little Match Girl, also by Hans Christian Andersen, was another of my favourite stories – so my hero, Sparrow, becomes a match girl… but that’s not what ‘Brightling’ is either, though it’s all connected.
The spitfyres are rare creatures and they produce sparks and flames making them very valuable. What strange things go on in their insides to make this possible? Can the power be harnessed?
Here’s another clue to the story. Because I don’t have any pictures of flying horses, here are some rhinos:
Rhinos are killed for their horns. In many Asian countries the horns are ground up and taken as a medicine. It’s believed that rhino horn powder can cure gout, hallucinations, infertility, fever and ‘devil possession’ along with most other ailments. It doesn’t. It is just the horn of an animal, made from keratin (like our all mammalian hair is). Hunters shoot the rhinos and take their horns often leaving them still alive and bleeding slowly to death. Sometimes the rhinos leave behind babies who can’t fend for themselves. Rhinos are being wiped out due to this practice.
Can you imagine how some people might want to steal the fire power of the flying horse?
I hope you enjoy reading BRIGHTLING.