I'm delighted to announce the release of a wonderful book (the first in a trilogy) by super-talented author, Jeff Gardiner. Jeff tells us about his journey to publication - the ideas and the finished product.
I’ve always been inspired by nature and am still a secret twitcher (bird spotter). The times when I most feel alive are when I’m walking in a forest, on a hillside or by a lake. But it’s important to appreciate that nature is both beautiful and dangerous.
Our relationship with nature is an odd one. On the one hand we are animals – part of nature. On the other, we humans seem to be at odds with nature – fighting against rough weather and pesky creatures that invade our homes and businesses. We cut down forests and build concrete jungles; we pollute and urbanise as if we own the place. We seem to have forgotten our place in creation; our relationship with other animals and the wonderful world that is our home. How many young people go for walks and holidays in the countryside these days?
Although world politicians are now slowly moving in the right direction, most environmental experts agree that it’s not enough. We’ve done too much damage in such a short space of time. We are killing our planet. What a strange way to behave.
Pica picks up on this idea.
Luke plays on violent computer games and hates the idea of a boring rural walk. One day a magpie taps on his window, and from then on he sees magpies everywhere he goes. A new boy, called Guy, joins his school, who is odd and is soon a victim of bullying. However, Luke is drawn to this strange boy, and as he gets to know him everything he understood about his life is turned upside down.
I wanted Pica to challenge people’s perceptions about young people and about our relationship with the natural world. Without sounding like a new-age hippy I do believe we used to have a greater knowledge of the natural world. In the past we understood things that have been lost over thousands of years. Luke begins a journey to rediscover that ancient ‘magic’.
I was also keen to make this novel – the first in the Gaia trilogy – a fantasy. Fantasy literature allows us to use our imaginations in our understanding of reality. Luke discovers powers that many of us can only dream about, so there is also a sense of wish-fulfilment alongside the serious environmental message.
The planning and writing of Pica took about a year. The novel went through a number of revisions, with one whole sub-plot completely deleted and rewritten. I sent off the synopsis and first three chapters to a few publishers and agents that accepted unsolicited manuscripts, but received standard rejections (the ones which don’t really indicate if anyone actually read it at all).
This led to further major revisions and rewrites, when I spoke to a fellow author who suggested I send it to her agent. She paved the way for me and the agent wrote back enthusiastically, agreeing to take me on as a client, putting Pica forward immediately. It was eventually picked up by Accent Press, who agreed a three book deal for the trilogy. They have been brilliant, offering excellent editorial advice, and some wonderful opportunities. Accent YA – their young adult imprint – are being rebranded and I was told that Pica would be one of the titles they were planning to launch at The London Book Fair.
So things are very exciting. I even have a cover quote from fantasy author, Michael Moorcock, who read it and wrote, “One of the most charming fantasy novels I've read in years. An engrossing and original story, beautifully told. Wonderful!”
PICA by Jeff Gardiner
Pica explores a world of ancient magic, when people and nature shared secret powers.
Luke hates nature, preferring the excitement of computer games to dull walks in the countryside, but his view of the world around him drastically begins to change when enigmatic loner, Guy, for whom Luke is reluctantly made to feel responsible, shows him some of the secrets that the very planet itself appears to be hiding from modern society.
Set in a very recognisable world of school and the realities of family-life, Luke tumbles into a fascinating world of magic and fantasy where transformations and shifting identities become an escape from the world. Luke gets caught up in an inescapable path that affects his very existence, as the view of the world around him drastically begins to change.
Publisher’s Link: https://www.accentpress.co.uk/pica
Amazon Australia: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pica-Gaia-Trilogy-Jeff-Gardiner/dp/1783759283/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pica-jeff-gardiner/1123361258
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