Guest post: The waking dream that sparked the book

Today, I’m delighted to welcome children’s author, Katherine Roberts, to the House of Dreams, on her blog-tour to celebrate her new book ‘Sword of Light.’

It’s especially exciting for me because this is the first time, as far as I know, that a book has been published which was helped along by one of my workshops, in this case, for the Scattered Authors Society  http://www.scatteredauthors.org/

My Heroine’s Journey for SWORD OF LIGHT, by Katherine Roberts

Katherine Roberts

My inspiration for ‘Sword of Light’ came in a waking dream, when I attended a workshop led by the lovely Jenny Alexander, who guided a few of us children’s authors on a ‘Hero’s Journey’ along our personal writing paths. It went like this.

Imagine you are walking in a familiar place, when you see a sign saying, ‘To the Treasure…’

I am in the local wood on the boardwalk, and it is raining so no-one else is walking today. The trees are dripping and the bluebells are out. All smells green and garlicky. I am approaching my favourite bridge over a stream, where I often imagine fairies, when I see a new path twisting through the trees where there are no marked trails. A sign says TO THE TREASURE. I think it is one of the farm’s treasure hunts for children, so I hesitate because it might be something tacky and disappointing. But since no-one is around to laugh at me, I decide to take a look.

You find the path blocked…

I push through some ivy and find the path blocked by a monstrous dragon that some local artists have strung up in the trees by the boardwalk for the annual Arts Trail. It is a fantasy creature made of old grey canvas, black feathers, and a scary triangular beak/snout. It is meant to be a future people’s idea of a bird they have never seen because birds are extinct in the future, and it has come alive. It hisses at me. It has been tied in the trees long enough, and now it has escaped. But it can’t fly because its wings have not been made the right way, and they are soggy with the rain. Also, it has no eyes, so it is blind.

How do you get past the block…?

The ‘future-bird’ cannot see me so I freeze, trying to make no sound. I think about going around it, but the undergrowth is too thick. Also, it’s boggy because I am off the boardwalk. I am too afraid of its huge sharp beak and its powerful claws to try climbing over it, so I decide to fool it. I pick up a stick and throw it into the undergrowth. The dragon hears the stick land and flaps off after it, getting  its wings entangled in the bushes and shrieking as it flounders in the bog. I hurry past before it can get free, a bit afraid of meeting it again on the way back.

You find the treasure…

As I leave the dragon behind, the sun comes out and the path emerges in a clearing where there is a barrow covered by greenery. I push aside some leaves and crawl inside, where I find a gleaming sword. This is the treasure! I take the sword, thinking it might be useful if I have to fight the dragon, although I don’t really want to soil the beautiful blade with its blood, nor hurt the ‘future-bird’ because it is the last of its kind. Also, I doubt my fighting skills because I have not been trained to use a blade. So I venture back warily along the dripping path, where the sun now sparkles through the leaves and gleams off my treasure.

What do you do next…?

The dragon is still stuck in the bog, but it has exhausted itself and the sun is drying its feathers. It steams gently, its wings spread in the warmth. It still cannot see me, but the sword is magic so it can see the light coming off it. It crawls towards me, as if hypnotised. It seems less afraid now, maybe because it is no longer lost and alone. I stroke its beak and it does not attack. Murmuring to the creatuire, I climb on its back, and since the sun has dried out its wings it can now fly. Although it is still blind, my eyes will guide us. As we take off and circle above the trees in the sunshine, I see the glint of water below where fairies live. We both feel amazingly free. As long as we continue to trust each other, we can fly anywhere in the world, and my sword of light will defend us from enemies, past or future.

Sword of Light

I was writing the first draft of ‘Sword of Light’ at the time of this workshop, and am quite spooked by how many elements have ended up in the book:

The sword – Excalibur, the Sword of Light that was forged in Avalon.

The dragon/’future-bird’ – a shadrake, a dark dragon from the underworld of Annwn which breathes ice instead of fire.

The heroine – Rhianna Pendragon, King Arthur’s daughter.

***

SWORD OF LIGHT is published this month by Templar in hardcover, and you can follow Rhianna Pendragon on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PendragonGirl

Katherine’s website is at www.katherineroberts.co.uk

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6 thoughts on “Guest post: The waking dream that sparked the book”

  1. Marvellous, Katherine! I remember being there and hearing you read aloud some of that dream journey and feelig the power of it!

  2. I was in a different group and remember that exercise more clearly than perhaps any other, it seemed to spark a very ‘deep down’ journey. I like to think of everyone who did it starting at exact same spot and branching off into their own waking dream journeys. Love the imagery especially of the poor old bird, I’m glad it had a great evolution.

  3. Yes, it’s a magical thing to witness, everyone setting off and branching out into… who knows where? I can never wait to hear, at the end, where everyone has been, and what they have discovered.

  4. Thank you for having me, Jen… and would you believe my shadrake / dark bird-creature is still flapping around in Book 3 of my Pendragon series? It keeps demanding a bigger part in the stories. I do hope it’s not going to be trouble!

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