Myths, mistakes & other inner debates about naming The Goose Road

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Hello! Joining me on the blog today is Rowena House, and I think I’ll say no more and let Rowena take it away!

 


Journalist me: why did you chose The Goose Road as the title for your book?

Author me: I wrote the story under the working title of The Butterfly’s Wing, which is a metaphor I borrowed from the founder of modern chaos theory, Edward Lorenz, who once asked, “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” in order to explore the mathematics of how microscopic disturbances in complex systems like the weather have immense knock-on effects.

In my original story, the actions of my protagonist, Angelique Lacroix, caused terrible, unintended consequences, but my editor at Walker felt that was too cruel to her as a character, and too shocking to the readers, so I let this element of the plot sink beneath the surface in later edits. That meant The Butterfly’s Wing didn’t work as a title anymore.

So your editor told you to change both the book and the title?

She asked me to change them, yes. But that’s one of the great things about working with an editor: they see things in your story that you don’t. They also understand their readership far better than a debut author. Also, I absolutely agreed with her that there’s no point whatsoever in having a title you have to explain to the reader. That defeats the whole point of a metaphor.

Where did The Goose Road come from, then?

I’d read a lot of First World War fiction and poetry while researching the background to the story. The Western Front in 1916 was a terrible place to be. The full weight of industrial-scale artillery shell production was crashing down on soldiers of both sides. So for the new title I went back to the soldier-poets for inspiration.

In 2014, the Imperial War Museums had published a wonderful collection called First World War Poems from the Front, edited by Paul O’Prey. I drew up a long list of possible titles from imagery in these poems.

Is that where the title came from?

No. In the end, none of them were right.

OK. So The Goose Road came from where, exactly?

I wanted the title to have more than one meaning. I wanted it to work on different levels. In the story, Angelique’s flock of Toulouse geese go on a journey, so unlike The Butterfly’s Wing the final title has a literal meaning. I’d also been deeply moved by Pat Barker’s incredible Regeneration Trilogy, The Ghost Road especially, which is the third book. I think it’s probably the most powerful novel I’ve ever read in my life.

Then you chose The Goose Road because it chimed with a book you admire?

Partly, yes. It’s a small act of homage. But The Goose Road has a third level of meaning as well.

Which is?

There are sad themes in Angelique’s story, as you’d expect from a novel set during the First World War, but there’s also hope, love and forgiveness, and the cyclical nature of history. I wanted to hint at these ideas, at the sense of continuity. How the road goes on…

You’re spinning this out deliberately, aren’t you?

That’s what fiction writers do. Writing a novel is tough, you know. It’s not like knocking out some short news report.

Journalist me: *rolls eyes*

Author me, grinning: I first found a reference to The Goose Road in the enigmatic result of a Google search for Paul Evans’ Field Notes from the Edge which said,“They are part of a mystery of birds and water that travels way back into our culture, certainly to the origins of English. This is a thousand-year-old riddle … to the ancestral north across the sea – which the author of Beowulf, the first great poem in English, called: the swan’s road and sometimes the goose road.”

Intrigued, but unable to fathom what this excerpt meant, I bought the book, hoping that this thousand-year-old riddle might somehow be connected to the West Country witchcraft tradition of the North Road, which is a myth I threaded into my story.

Instead what I found was a beautiful book, which weaves together the roots of our language and culture with nature and our lost wild places.

The thousand-year old riddle is this: “Silence is what I wear when I walk the earth or make my home or stir the waters. Sometimes my beauty and these high air currents take me above the houses and the power of clouds lifts me over nations.”

The answer to this riddle is the mute swan. The swan’s road – or goose road – is their migratory flight path which links Britain’s flooded meadows and winter waterways to our ancestral northlands across the sea.

In fact, this mythical road seems to be older than a thousand years, dating back to the period when the people we call Anglo-Saxons lived in the fens and estuaries of Northern Europe.

“Swans and geese are often interchangeable in the language of legends, part of a lexicon of birds and trees that carry meaning between culture and Nature,” Paul Evans says in his book.

He ends the chapter on mute swans and greylag geese thus: “Across the Bifrost goose-steps the greylag; she shakes thunder from her wings and wipes her beak in the water, the world bigger, more wondrous and hers again.”

Journalist me:

*pauses*

I like that.

And your title.

Thanks. Me too.

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The Goose Road by Rowena House is out now. 

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Writing about real life (sort of) – Guest Post by Will Hill

Hello! Today it’s my turn on the YA Shot Blog Tour, and I’m very excited to welcome After the Fire author Will Hill to the blog to talk about writing about real life. I’ll leave it up to him to take centre stage from here!


My latest novel, After The Fire, was inspired by something that took place in Texas in 1993. Between February and April of that year, the American authorities (principally the FBI and ATF) laid siege to a rural compound owned by an extremist religious sect, the Branch Davidians, after a gunfight had erupted when they attempted to search the property. It ended in a fire that destroyed most of the compound and with more than eighty people dead, including the cult’s leader, David Koresh.

Footage of the fire and the final assault by the federal agencies was televised all over the world, and the incident – which became known as the Waco Siege – sparked huge debate in America over the authority of the US government, the freedom to practice religion, and the right to bear arms (swhich could – sadly – easily lead you to conclude that not a lot of progress has been made in the subsequent twenty-five years).

I was – and still am – fascinated by cults, and I had known for a long time that I wanted to write a story set inside one. When I was reminded of the Waco footage I had seen when I was a kid (after a visit to a museum in Washington, DC) the bones of what would eventually become After The Fire fell into place really quickly. But there was a problem. What happened in the Texas desert in 1993 was a terrible, defining moment in the lives of a great number of people, and many of the survivors who lived through it are still alive today. I could not reconcile myself with directly retelling the most traumatic event of their lives as entertainment.

There have (obviously) been tens of thousands of historical novels, and many of them have been based on hard subjects. The winner of last year’s Carnegie Medal (the brilliant Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys) was based on the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945, in which more than nine thousand people perished. But Waco was only twenty-five years ago, and many of the people who survived it were children. Some have chosen to tell their stories in the years since, but many of them haven’t. And it was very clearly not my place to speak for them.

Instead, I drew from other cults that have believed in an imminent apocalypse and from those men (they’re almost always men) who have used fear and manipulation to control other people. I created a belief system distinct from any of those practiced by religious sects in real life, and nothing like the one practiced by hundreds of millions of Christians around the world.

I read everything I could find on Waco (including the US government report into the siege and the remarkable work of Dr. Bruce Perry, who treated the young Branch Davidian survivors) because if I was going to write something inspired by this dark, tragic moment in modern history, I needed to know as much as I possibly could about it. I couldn’t leave getting things right to chance.

So the end result is this: the Lord’s Legion are not the Branch Davidians, John Parsons is not David Koresh, and Moonbeam didn’t exist until I invented her. As I say in the author’s note at the end of the novel, After The Fire is a work of fiction. But like a great many stories, it came from something real, and it was vital – after deciding that this was a story I was going to tell – to treat that source material with the respect it deserves.

I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide whether or not I succeeded.

After the Fire is available now. 

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Sorting The Fandom Characters into their Hogwarts Houses – Guest Post by Anna Day

9781910655672Hello! Today I welcome Anna Day, author of The Fandom, to the blog where she’s going to go through some of the characters from The Fandom and sort them into their respective Hogwarts houses! I’m really excited to share this with you, so I’ll let Anna get on with it!


I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, so sorting my characters into houses was great fun. Most of them were pretty obvious, but I must confess, Violet had me logging onto Pottermore and answering as if I were her. (By the way, I would recommend this exercise for any writers in the process of character development. It really makes you think like your character, and you get to relive that trepidation of finding out all over again.)

Violet

As mentioned, I had to defer to the actual Sorting Hat when it came to Violet. She has a huge character arc, starting off a real shrinking violet, but ending up more courageous than Rose herself. For this reason, I toyed with placing her in Gryffindor, but the Sorting Hat spoke, and Violet is officially Hufflepuff. Which makes sense, cos her most consistent trait is loyalty.

Katie

Katie’s another Hufflepuff girl. Her grounded nature and unshakable loyalty means she can wear her badger crest with pride.

Alice

I sorted the ambitious and resourceful Alice into Slytherin a long time ago, there’s even a reference in The Fandom where she’s described as the Queen of Slytherin. But she isn’t all bad, and has a character arc which mirrors one of the best known Slytherins of all time: Snape. In the end, in spite of her ambition, Alice sacrifices everything for love. Disclaimer: I’m Slytherin and thus in denial that we’re all just a bunch of sods.

Nate

Nate is Ravenclaw to the core. As Rowena once said: ‘Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.’

Note the blinding absence of one of the houses. The deafening silence of the lion’s roar. I’m not quite sure how I managed to write a book without a Gryffindor. I’m going with the theory that each character has a substantial thread of lion running through them, as it’s courage and bravery which ultimately saves the day. Either that, or I’m still pissed I didn’t get into the same house as Harry!

The Fandom is out now, priced £7.99. Follow the conversation online using the tag #jointhefandom!    

Wing Jones Photo Tour

Hello and welcome to my stop on the Wing Jones Photo Tour! I’m so excited to share a photo today to celebrate the launch of Katherine’s debut novel, so I’ll let Katherine explain what this photo means to her…


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I’m so proud to be a Walker author, and I love any chance I get to go to the office! It is so wonderful to get to know the people I work with. Not only have I gotten to know my editor, I’ve also had the opportunity to meet my cover designer, people on the sales and marketing teams, and more! Here I am with fabulous Rosi Crawley—who is so much fun to work with and wonderful at her job!

Wing Jones is the much anticipated debut novel from Katherine Webber, publishing 5th January 2017 in the UK. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants…

Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention. You can find her on Twitter @kwebberwrites

Throughout January, over 40 bloggers will be participating in the #WJphototour – a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! Keep an eye on the hashtag to see the latest photos!

And if you’d like to buy a copy of Wing Jones, it’s available right now, from Waterstones, Hive or Amazon!

Natasha Farrant’s Favourite Place To Write

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Hello! Welcome to my stop on the Grand Tour for Lydia by Natasha Farrant! Today Natasha joins me to share her favourite place to write, and shares an extract from the book! Enjoy!


I like to write in cafés. People ask how I can work surrounded by noise, but it helps me concentrate. If people at neighbouring tables are too loud, I listen to music on headphones to distract me from the particulars of their conversation. I almost always listen to the same music: Bach’s Goldberg Variations in the morning, which are very ordered and structured and ease me into writing; Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto in the afternoons, which is more frantic and passionate and gives me a kick up the backside if I am flagging. The reason for always listening to the same music however is that I am not, actually, listening. It has become a trigger for my writing ritual, along with the cup of coffee, the Moleskine notebook, the Pilot pen. Different music would distract me, like loud conversation.

I don’t mind which café I work in as long as the coffee is good, but earlier this summer I went to a café under the railway arches of my local park, and sat outside and wrote for hours surrounded by the sound of birdsong and the trains rattling overhead. It was magical.

Lydia Bennett, for all her many qualities, is not known for her love of books.  But now she has met a boy… who reads all the time… and somehow she has convinced him that not only is she highly educated, but has a deep interest in the writings of Saint Augustine (don’t ask…).  She has just a few days to get educated before she sees him again…


Sunday 1st June

My lack of education, as Mary calls it, is entirely Father’s fault. There’s no point blaming Mamma. She knows even less about anything than I do. But Father, who spends whole days in his library, could have taught me something. If we had been boys, we should all have been sent to school, but I don’t see what being a boy has to do with anything. Plenty of girls go to school – even Harriet did. We cannot all be like Mary, always educating ourselves. Some of us require motivation, and it is too bad Father never saw fit to give it, or I shouldn’t be in the trouble I am now.

After returning from the spa yesterday, I went immediately to the library, where, ignoring the assembled company, the tea, the coffee and the fashionable periodicals, I made straight for the books and looked for the librarian. My courage almost failed me when he appeared. He looked so exactly as a librarian should, with his grey whiskers and faded brown coat and little spectacles on the end of his nose like Mary’s – so very studious and learned. But my mission was urgent. I girded my loins.

“I should like to read the works of Saint Augustine,” I said haughtily. “And I also need some poetry, novels, and plays.”

“I see.” The librarian frowned, and his spectacles slipped even farther down his nose. “Do you have anything more specific in mind?”

I crumbled. “Nothing at all!” I cried. “I have just four days in which to become educated.”

“How educated?” the librarian asked.

I slumped into a nearby armchair, feeling discouraged. There seemed no point in dissembling.

“Just enough to be convincing,” I admitted.

The librarian – who is a charming man – patted my shoulder, gave me Saint Augustine, and scurried away to gather a veritable tower of learning, the names of which I must write down to anchor them for ever in my memory. They were:

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet and the Sonnets

John Milton, Paradise Lost

Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

“I have also included Mrs. Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho,” he said. “I find a knowledge of contemporary culture is a very pleasing thing, and it is of course immensely fashionable.”

“Of course.” I gulped. “But all this – all this is what I have to read to appear intelligent?”

The librarian said, “Well, it’s a start.”


Thank you to Natasha for joining me on the blog today! Make sure you go and follow the rest of the tour and check all the other wonderful posts on the tour out! The blog tour banner is below!

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10 Questions, 140 Characters With Lauren James

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Where did you get the idea for The Next Together from?

I started writing about a reincarnated couple in English lessons at school aged 16, so I don’t know where the idea first came from! #destiny

Do you enjoy writing from historical and futuristic perspectives?

YES!! But having loads of historical periods in my first ever novel wasn’t a great plan – it was hard enough to write without the research!

How did you come up with the characters, Katherine and Matthew?

Kate and Matt were inspired by…….myself! I think any character has to have a facet of the writer’s personality to feel genuine and real.

Which is easier for you: characters or plot?

ALWAYS plot! I develop characters around the knowledge of what they’re going to do in the book – the kind of person who would do that stuff.

What does all the reaction towards The Next Together mean to you?

It’s a daily kind of awe, esp when people tell me they’ve reread the book. Then I get this feeling of shock, like “They really DID like it!”

Who are your writing inspirations?

Maggie Stiefvater. Sarah Waters. Susanna Clarke. Zen Cho. e lockhart. P G Wodehouse. Shirley Jackson. Neil Gaiman. Phillip Pullman. LOADS.

What’s next for you?

The Last Beginning is released on Oct 6th. I will also have a big announcement about future books then too...but for now my lips are sealed!

Any tips for aspiring writers?

Write for yourself. Always. The book that you are desperate to read. Always put it in a drawer for 6 weeks and reread it before querying it.

Is there anything you find you need whilst writing, or do you have a specific process?

I NEED my music. I can’t get into the book without songs to set the tone. Also the perfect chair, temperature, snack, coffee, nap, laptop..!

Be honest; how difficult was it to answer these questions in 140 characters or less?

I made it extra hard by making every answer EXACTLY 140 characters, which was a true challenge. It was a lot of fun, but….never again, ha!

Headshot - Lauren James

Lauren James was born in 1992, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics.
She sold the rights to her first novel The Next Together, a Young Adult science fiction romance, when she was 21. It has been translated into five languages worldwide and is out now with Walker Books in the UK and Australia, and will also be published by Sky Pony Press in the USA. It was described by The Bookseller as ‘funny, romantic and compulsively readable’. It was also longlisted for the Branford Boase Award, a prize given to recognise an outstanding novel by a first time writer. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient.

Her other novels include The Last Beginning, the epic conclusion to The Next Together about love, destiny and time travel. A short story set in the world of The Next Together series, Another Together, is also available as a free eBook.

You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or her websitehttp://www.laurenejames.co.uk.

The DIMILY trilogy and why you should read it

I searched through my emails to find the first time I was introduced to the DIMILY trilogy. I’d heard a few super positive things about it, and I knew that the series started as a highly popular Wattpad series. The wonderful team at Black and White Publishing were nice enough to send me a copy of Did I Mention I Love You, and I raced through it. The second book was sent out as a surprise to book bloggers by the team at B&W and the third one landed on my doorstep a few days ago. I’m reading it at the moment (I’m really enjoying it and will definitely be reviewing it shortly), but for my stop on the blog tour for the book, I thought I’d give you a few reasons I think you should read the trilogy, or rather I take a few things that people might be thinking about the trilogy that could put them off and tell you why, in fact, you may actually really enjoy it!

  • The characters are great. You meet so many amazing characters in the DIMILY trilogy, and they’re all so well crafted as well. The main characters, Eden and Tyler, clearly have a lot of thought put into them and I really do think this is a good thing. By the end of the first book, you will definitely have got a really good idea of who the characters are, and you will be able to tell that they’ve been crafted quite carefully.
  • Description of settings is also pretty good too. The series is largely set in locations in America, with a large amount of the first book set in places like Santa Monica and New York City. Just like the descriptions of the characters that Estelle provides, the description of the settings is very vivid as well.
  • Estelle’s writing style is amazing. The books have a really amazing way of pulling you into the story and gripping you so it feels like you’re reading a thriller instead of a romance. Most people I talk to about the series all have similar things to say. Even if romance may not be your thing, I think you’ll find that Estelle has a way with words, and it really shines through in this book.
  • Even if romance isn’t your thing, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Trust me, romance isn’t my thing either. To this day and to the best of my knowledge, the trilogy remains the only set of romance novels I’ve ever read. But honestly, I’m blown away by the trilogy. Estelle’s writing style is so good that you can feel totally gripped by the series. I really think that, even if romance isn’t your thing, you’ll enjoy this series.
  • It also becomes slightly addictive too. (Once you’re into it, you really can’t put the book down!)

I hope that you enjoy the DIMILY trilogy if you are reading it, are planning on reading it soon or if you are about to start the final book in the trilogy, then I hope you’re ready for it to end!

Make sure you check out all the other posts on the DIMILY blog tour, there’s plenty of content to come too, so keep an eye out for it all!

Estelle’s website is here and her Twitter is @EstelleMaskame.