DEBUT JOURNEYS Christmas Round Up

One year ago, Helen Victoria invited a group of debut authors out on an imaginary walk through a landscape of their choice. They have walked us through fells and downs, oceans and deserts, Camden and Norway, and many other mythical and real landscapes before sitting by our virtual fireside to toast their success and tell us what they would like to do next. 

Well, what a year it has been! I knew I had big shoes to fill after Justin’s Debut-Dance Ball, but the wonderful team at W&P have seen me through. Thank you to Claire Watts, Julia Tuffs and Emily Davison for help, editing and guidance and a huge thank you to our fabulous debut authors who took time to tell us about their creative landscapes as well as the real ones which inspired them in writing and in life.

P.M Freestone told us about her exciting adventures on nearly every continent of the world, before describing the landscapes of Shadowscent, the Aramtesh Empire and the senses through which her hero carves out her journey.

Rachel Burge set her atmospheric story on the fictional island of Skjebne in the Lofoten Islands, Northern Norway. In her interview she tells us that The Twisted Tree is set ‘at a time of near-permanent darkness in winter – so perfect for a creepy ghost story.’

Marissa Noelle’s favourite landscape is the ocean, Marissa says, ‘I want to be as strong as the waves and harness their power in life,’ a thought that will stay with us for a long time. In Marissa’s debut The Shadow Keepers, Brookwood Hospital was based on a real mental asylum only closed down in the mid ‘90s.

Kate Mallinder’s debut, Summer of no Regrets is set on the south coast, in Kingsbridge. ‘I live in the Midlands, miles from the sea, so holidays on the coast are magical – I love watching how the sea changes each day with the weather.’

Rashmi Sirdeshpande whose debut How To Be Extraordinary, illustrated by Annabel Tempest talks about ‘the stretch of jungle behind my grandparents’ house in Goa. It’s the monsoon and there’s nothing like that smell of the rain and soil and flowers and fruit…’

Emma Read's debut Milton the Mighty describes a view of the world from a spider’s perspective. ‘The ground floor of my house revealed many things to me as I crept about on the floorboards (ignoring the confused looks of family) – the safety of the dark corners, the gap under the skirting board where Milton lives, a lost badge under a chair, and dust!’

Natascha Beibow takes us on her favourite walk in the Swiss Alps as well as her everyday walk in her local park with her Jack Russell. In The Crayon Man she brings Crayola cryon inventor, Edwin Binney, to life, describing his home by the sea with its beautiful garden filled with colour.

Justin Davies enjoys a journey which starts and stops at his front door! He lives in Fife and his walk has everything from bracing wind to beautiful views. His fabulous debut, Help! I Smell a Monster, though set in Scotland, was inspired by his sailing holiday around Ithaka. Odysseus’s adventures eventually made their way into his children’s story.

Damaris Young’s incredible debut, The Switching Hour was inspired by the landscape of her childhood home in Botswana. The extreme contrast between seasons in her childhood led her to create a story in which a dream-eating creature ‘embodies a terrible drought that threatens to wipe out all things’.

Marie Basting has two very distinct landscapes in her debut novel Princess BMX. She has the very real world of Camden, London, and the picturesque fictional Biscotti. Marie’s personal landscape, where she loves to get her inspiration from, is the woodlands near where she lives.

 So there we have it! As we draw near our fires and look back over the successes of 2019 I hope our debut journeys have inspired you. It has been such a pleasure to learn from these fabulous writers and I look forward to stepping out with a bunch of talented, creative people who have their debut in 2020.

Helen Victoria is a writer of YA fiction, a full time drama teacher and a reader of anything and everything. When she is not putting on shows, reading or writing, Helen loves to walk in wild places, or hang out with her family and friends in London, France and Cornwall.

Follow Helen:
Twitter: @helensimmons100

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