My daughter asked me to find certain photographs for her recently. As I went though hundreds of photos (not the digital kind either!) in this large tea chest, that belonged my Mother, it was quite apparent that the numerous family day trips and vacations all had one common thread – nature and wildlife. We went to zoo’s, safari parks, wildlife parks, and even family walks ended up at farms or in fields and forests. This interest has been passed down from parent to child and grandchild. It is a family interest to this day.
My narratives reflect this fascination, even if a location is ‘off world’ there are always references to the natural inhabitants of that world. In Ockleberries to the Rescue, although there are magical woodland sprites caring for forest animals, it is based on Earth. Each chapter allows a child to learn about a specific animal or bird on Earth. These sketch’s by J.E. McKnight illustrate some of the chapter headers.
In Clickety Click there is a hidden world within our own and in Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria there are fantastical plants and animals of my imagination. The initial spark for the story behind Creature Hunt was a chance encounter with this enormous mullein plant on one of my road trips. As can see it was taller than me! You will have to read the book to find out what character it plays.
In The Twesome Loop, an Italian olive grove is a fundamental part of the story. Olive trees can grow for hundreds of years and their gnarly trunks give them character. The story is set between England and Italy, two places I love very much, having lived in one and visited the other.
I used my new found knowledge of my new home, Canada, for the setting of my novel, Life in Slake Patch, which has a prairie location. And The Commodore’s Gift has my protagonists living in a forest cavern, while I take my readers back to medieval England in The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy.
As you can see the settings for my stories are as much a character as the protagonists are. It allows my dear readers to imagine the surroundings and the flora and fauna. I personally love discovering the natural world, while letting nature relax and inspire me. There is always something new to learn and see from a bug to a bison, from a flower to a tree.
Today’s prompt is to describe finding a tattoo on your body unexpectedly.
I found this prompt inspiring and can see it developing further. I hope you like my short story.
I trudged to the bathroom, peering through half closed eyes avoiding the bright sunlight streaming through the windows. In my drunken state, I had forgotten to close the curtains. My head thudded in time to my footsteps. My body ached – what had we done last night?
Turning the faucet, I braves a glance at myself in the mirror. Black smudges of mascara gave me the look of a panda. What a state!
Pulling back the shower curtain across the tub, I stepped in and let the hot water refresh me, slowly revitalizing my body and mind. With a large amount of shower gel on my hands, I began washing. Ouch! My left shoulder smarted as I rubbed with the flannel.
I looked at my arm to see a multi-colored tattoo. What the hell? When did that happen? Oh my God, how drunk was I?
I inspected the new ink, a sword across a shield embossed with a bear’s head, it jaws open, teeth bared;. As I gazed at the image a memory emerged. The tavern at the lake had been crowded and my friends and I had joined in with the locals as they relayed stories of a local legend. A massive bear larger than life, who took pet animals in the dead of night. One hunter among the group showed us a huge scare across his back, the result of an encounter.
I ran out of time here for the prompt but can see the story continuing.
Today I will give you the prompt we used at my writing group’s meeting last night. It stirred up some great responses, two of which required more time than 10 minutes. This included mine, so here is the completed story.
In your morning shower, you notice a tattoo on your body that you don’t remember getting. What is it? How did you get it? What does it mean?
I trudged to the bathroom, peering through half closed eyes avoiding the bright sunlight flowing through the windows. In my drunken state, I had forgotten to close the curtains. My head thudded in time to my footsteps. My body ached. What had we done last night?
Turning the faucet, I braved a glance at myself in the mirror. Black smudges of mascara gave me the look of a panda. What a state! Pulling the shower curtain across the tub, I let the hot water refresh me, slowly revitalizing my body. With a large amount of shower gel on my hands I began washing. Ouch, my left shoulder smarted as I rubbed with the flannel.
I looked down at my arm to see a multi colored tattoo. What the hell? When did that happen? Oh my God, how drunk was I?
I inspected the new ink – a sword across a shield embossed with a bear head, jaws open, teeth bared. As I gazed at the image a memory emerged. The tavern at the lake has been crowded and my friends and I had joined the locals as they relayed stories of a local legend. A massive bear larger than life, who took pet animals in the dead of night.
One hunter among the group showed us a huge scar across his back, the result of an encounter with this bear. He was lucky to escape with his life. He told us he had been hunting deer and was about to take aim when the bear appeared out of nowhere behind him and struck his back. The force of the blow pushed him tumbling him down an outcrop to the river below. He was convinced he would surely have died if he had not fallen. Spellbound by this tale we raised a glass to his escape.
Now my mind tried to grasp the remainder of the evening but it was hazy to say the least. Once showered, dried and dressed, I forgo breakfast as my stomach rolled unpleasantly at the thought and poured strong hot coffee into a mug. I sat on the window seat and people watched for a while. Thank goodness it was Sunday and I could lazy around all day recovering. I must of dozed off because my cell woke me. The sun was higher and hot through the glass.
“Where are you?”
“At home of course, why?”
“You are so late for work, Gail. Are you coming in today?”
“What? It’s Sunday.”
“Nope, Monday and it’s ten o’clock. So are you coming in?”
I looked around my apartment, at the traffic below my window and then the dried coffee spill on the floor. How could I have slept for so ling?
“Are you still there? Hello?”
“Yes, yes, I’m here. Look I need to sort out a few things, I’ll be in tomorrow.”
“Was it that heavy a night?”
“I was home all night. I’ll see you tomorrow, Sandra.”
I stood but staggered back down my feet throbbed in pain. I looked down – my feet were covered in mud and grass. What the hell is going on? I just showered. That’s when I saw the trail of muddy foot prints and – what is that? Blood!
Clutching my cell I crept toward the bathroom following the tracks. My head swam and then I was in a forest. The cold grass and morning dew chilled my feet and I shivered. This is the most intense dream I have ever had.
“Gailen, get down!”
The shout was just behind me, I froze and two large hands pushed me to the forest floor. I looked in surprise at the hunter who’d relayed his tale of the bear that night.
“What’s going on, this dream is intense.”
“No dream, Gailen, you are returned.”
“Hang on, my name is Gail not Gailen and…”
“No time to talk we must run, the beast will smell us soon enough.”
The hunter pulled me by one hand, all the time I cursed as sharp sticks and stones pierced the soles of my feet. He did not let me stop but pulled with a strength and urgency that scared me. As we approached a steep embankment I hesitated looking both ways for another route, but a sharp tug on my hand sent me flying and tumbling down the steep bank. I cried out several times as my body struck hard objects. At the bottom, the hunter picked me up as easily as a feather and looked intensely into my eyes.
“Gailen, you are returned and must fulfill your destiny. You and only you can defeat the beast. It is foretold. You bare the mark.” He pointed to my new tattoo.
“Hold on. Firstly, my name is Gail, secondly this tattoo appeared out of nowhere yesterday – might have been the day before actually – but I have no destiny and I just wish this dream would stop. It is much too real for me.”
“The Queen of Light hid you in another realm for your own safety but with the beast grown so, she had no choice but to bring you back. You must kill it and save the kingdom.”
“Okay, so now this is a fantasy dream? I’m going to wake up any minute.”
“Gailen, listen to me. Your life in the other realm was temporary, this is your true home. Do you not remember?”
“No, of course I don’t this isn’t real.”
“It is real. You must see the seer and get your memories back as soon as possible. The beast is rampaging villages as we speak, he must be stopped and you are the one who can stop it. Come we will go to the wise one.”
I will stop this story here as it has taken on it’s own momentum! I will carry on the story later.
Why not try this prompt and tell us about an unexpected tattoo?
Omnivorous – definition: 1. eating food of both animal and plant origin; 2. eating all kinds of food indiscriminately
While deciding on what to write about today, I realized that several of the animals in my children’s chapter book, Ockleberries to the Rescue, are actually omnivores. The story centers around two magical, healer sprites, who help the animals within the forest they live. Among these are Bruin the bear, Swift the fox, Spike the hedgehog, Cyril the pine marten, Morry the mole and the twin squirrels, Rayce andChase. All of these characters are omnivorous, in other words eat meat as well as plant matter of one type or another. As you can see I chose my animal names carefully and love how they reflect the animals characters.
It was fun to create this magical world and incorporate my love of the animal kingdom at the same time. The book is in final editing and I am waiting for the illustrations to be completed. Hopefully it will be available as an e-book and print on demand by early spring. Keep an eye on my author page at http://www.dreamwritepublishing.ca/authors/mandy-eve-barnett for updates.
I delight in the existence of fairies, sprites, pixies and the like as well, it is a childlike wonder. I own a book on gnomes and another on fairies. Both are beautifully illustrated and written.