Urgent! Illustrator needed!!

So, a while ago I posted a cover of my book ‘Caskets of Ice‘, and after much deliberation and much inspired from the wonderful designs I found in “The Sleeper & the Spindle” by Neil Gaiman (Illustrated by Chris Riddell) I have come to the conclusion…..

That I am officially looking for an illustrator for my work. It is action/adventure fantasy, with gothic dreamy aspects with plenty of queens and castles that will appeal to all lovers of fairy stories-though not 100% a fairytale. It blurs the boundaries between dreams and reality from a perspective of a girl who yearns to escape from her daily life, trapped in a world which is far scarier, creepier and sometimes, downright brutal than she ever imagines.

It celebrates the imagination, and when dreams come alive.

All ideas are welcome! Below is the existing cover, designed by the talented Bonnie:

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Here are examples of some of the illustrations you may see in “The Sleeper & the Spindle”, with their wonderful black and white drawings and gold leaf.

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Please drop me a message if you are interested in collaboration, or you want to know more information about the book. Let’s begin on this magical journey together…

Kate 🙂

 

‘My Ántonia’~ Book Review

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“The red of the grass made all the great prairie the colour of wine stains, or of certain seaweeds when they are first washed up. And there was so much motion in it; the whole country seemed, somehow, to be running.”

It recalls memories of the adventures of “Tom Sawyer”, Scarlet’s love of the land in “Gone with the Wind”, romantic tendencies towards philosophy in “The Great Gatsby” and a voice quite its own. For one, I really enjoyed the descriptions of nature, the vivid colours etched into your imagination of some place new, not yet experienced. A pocket into a time past.

On the edge of the prairie, where the sun had gone down, the sky was turquoise blue, like a lake, with gold light throbbing in it….the evening star hung like a lamp suspended by silver chains — like the lamp engraved up the title-page of old Latin texts, which is always appearing in new heavens and waking new desires in men.

There’s something about reading that makes creativity flow again, and I could well carry the images of the prairies with me as I went about my day. The plot mainly focuses on Ántonia, (My Ántonia) a Bohemian girl travelling to Nebraska with her family to escape poverty and build up the land from scratch- and the memories it affords to Jim Burden, orphaned at the age of 10. Though time passes and their lives are apart, he begins to write a journal of his childhood.

Time changes us all. We adapt and view things in different ways, ways which can give us some form of calm acceptance as we grow older. It’s true that one of the main aspects you miss about a place is it’s scenery and environment. Its overflowing nature, peace and greenery, solitude. The idea of leaving our modern lives behind, escape and live in a log cabin somewhere in the wilderness seems attractive and romantic. But the reality of the hardships Ántonia and her family have to face, immigrants from her native land- their struggle for survival is real.

“The older girls, who helped to break up the wild sod, learned so much from life, from poverty, from their mothers and grandmothers; they had all, like Antonia, been early awakened and made observant by coming at a tender age from an old country to a new.”

With any piece of writing, character development is by far one of the hardest – through speech or physical descriptions that need maintenance not just in introduction. Yet Willa Cather’s transition of Ántonia from child to adult captures her resilience, good nature, pure love for others and open, childlike wonder that sustains her as the yolk that brings all avenues of the story together.

Jim Burden’s devotion to Ántonia is remarkable in a way that transcends words. She represents to him his childhood days, his home, all the people that touched his life before he went away, memories that he has always cherished and carried with him. Their lives may have taken separate turns, but their collective memory is one that will always remain.  “…my mind plunged away from me, and I suddenly found myself thinking of the places and people of my own infinitesimal past.”

I will leave you with an extract – my particular favourite:

Of course it means you’re going away from us for good”, she said with a sigh. “But that doesn’t mean I’ll lose you. Look at my papa here; he’s been dead all these years, and yet he is more real to me than almost anybody else… The older I grow,  the better I know and understand him…”

About us was growing darker and darker, and I had to look hard at her face, which I meant always to carry with me ; the closest, realest face, under all the shadow  of women’s faces, at the very bottom of my memory. “I’ll come back,” I said earnestly, through the soft, intrusive darkness.

“Perhaps you will-” I felt rather than saw her smile. “But even if you don’t, you’re here, like my father. So I won’t be lonesome.”

As I went back along over that familiar road, I could almost believe that a boy and girl ran along beside me, as our shadows used to do, laughing and whispering to each other in the grass. 

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‘Villette’ Review & New Books!!

 

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Before I start reviews on these lovely editions, let me start by writing on something long overdue on my blog; ‘Villette’ by Charlotte Brontë.

Both as a human being and a teacher, there passed understanding between Lucy Snowe and I.

After a series of disasters that befall the protagonist Lucy at the start of the novel; she breaks free and starts anew to work on her own merit in a French school. There’s a complexity of feeling and contradictions, by the end you truly appreciate just how many layers the reader is drawn into …her self reliance in new surroundings, her command and discipline over unruly pupils-it involved perseverance (a chapter a night in my case) Lucy too persevered through the pages. By no means faultless, she is strong in her convictions, and a willpower that could probably cut through steel. Her high depreciation for herself means she isn’t able to understand why anyone would love her, and stays much in the shadows. It contrasts against the shining qualities of Ginevra Earnshaw and little ‘Paulina’. I can only compare that Lucy has the constancy of a rock, versus Paulina’s elegance and inner shine, and perhaps- superficial glow of Ginevra.

I wanted to meet the characters and judge for myself what they were really like. It seemed that by the end you are unable to get a clear picture of any individual, which is true because it would take a lifetime (and more!) to really study the complexities of another. Lucy too grew to fondness ~

“There are people from whom we secretly shrink, whom we would personally avoid though reason confesses they are good people, those with faults of tempers …besides whom we live content as if the air about them did us good.”

A lot of French, and I only understood the basics! Sometimes I wished there would be translations in the large segments of text, but you can somehow infer from the passage the meaning, so it wasn’t a big problem. ‘Villette‘ is mysterious, religious, touching almost on the fantastical- but all are resolved and brought back into the realms of reality- from the appearance of the ghostly nun Justine Marie and the walk through the fete at midnight, induced by a drugged opium state.

The ending too leaves it open to the reader to decide- for Lucy her life has been much of disappointment and observation, she never believed anything good would come to her and yet she has experienced more emotions, more heartache and reasons to be grateful than any of the other characters. Through loss, she has gained something else. A deeper understanding and acceptance, a depth of love quite inspirational.

“I used to think what a delight it would be for one who loved him better than he loved himself, to gather and store up those handfuls of gold dust, so recklessly thrown up to heaven’s reckless winds.”

There is something about the Brontë sisters.

In Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, in Anne’s ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, of Charlotte’s own ‘Jane Eyre’. What do they have in common? Though this novel touches upon Lucy’s complicated relationships and luckless romances, perhaps you can argue that they understand what it is to feel loss, to show inner strength through determination of spirit and passion; you can feel this no doubt from their novels. They makes you uncomfortable, it is unsettling. Nobody can ever confuse ‘Wuthering Heights‘ with a light or easy read. There is no promise of a happy ending. It is about accepting this is what life is, never predictable, never carefree, and definitely not safe from loss on any accounts.

Unless you are an avid literature fan, this may not be the one that opens the avenue of your hidden passion for reading classics. But, I would say it’s worth it if, like me, your passion already is to read as many and as much of them as you can get your hands on.

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A dedication

woodland watercolour

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The cottage has opened its doors to me,

of dreams long foretold,

of poppies and tiger lilies, violets three,

and memories dear to hold

*

The path is worn through tender days,

the seeds blossomed; overgrown,

through woods and bluebells I long to stay,

o’er moss fair winds have blown

*

She halts my quiet sighs,

bent down with grains of sorrow,

and beckons me forth on green fields lie,

Where none but Death can follow

*

Storms rage on in faraway lands

but close stillness and quiet roam

It comforts the voices of my consumed heart;

and tenderly guides me Home.

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Copyright © 2015 by Kate W J White (All Rights Reserved)

View from a Castle

2015-07-17 17.02.02

Rose Gardens, ‘Hever Castle’ 07.15

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The Sky is streaked like an aeroplane runway, double yellow lines at the roadside. Puffs of evaporated whiteness dissipate slowly, absorbed by the hungry mouth of unending blue.

 The moat is a still mirror, stone and latticed brickwork sliding about on its surface like a skater on ice. Fingers of ivy snake in brilliant amber and ox-blood, splattering the castle in a web of tattoos.

She thrums her fingers on damp wood, wind battering her skin fiercely as she steps off the drawbridge; into the gloom beyond. ‘Surely,’ she thinks, ‘a queen needs a crown?’…

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Copyright © 2015 by Kate W J White (All Rights Reserved)

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

“Treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends; they wound those who resort to them worse than their enemies.” 

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At first glance, Wuthering Heights appears to be a Gothic romance set amidst the wilderness of the Yorkshire moors. It encompasses the ferocity of raw emotions- of treachery, obsession and revenge. W.H is dark and brooding and does not have the light-hearted or witty societal interactions present in Jane Austen’s works. In my opinion, it is less a story of love, and more of possession; something deeper, a rawness of spirit that propels them to inflict the pain and damage to one another. It is almost spiritual in that Heathcliff believes the ghost of Cathy haunts him still after her death, and there will be no peace for them in the afterlife.

The narrative encompasses a period of 50 years and passes through 3 generations of two households- the Lintons and Earnshaws. I can understand why some readers may find it confusing; I had to keep turning back over the pages to find out who was who (cousins marrying cousins and various surname changes). It is told by a housekeeper Nelly Dean and a visitor to the moors- Mr. Lockwood. Between them they manage to piece together the event for the reader (reliable voices or no, it is up to you to judge!) it is one aspect of storytelling. I feel a lot of gothic novels such as Dracula, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, are written as first person through journals and letters. This allows us to experience from a subjective point of view, but I wonder if this make us feel 100% committed to a character, or even to form our own unbiased opinion.

Wuthering_Heights_family_tree One thing you notice- no character is likeable. Though I felt no emotional connection with the individuals, (Heathcliff is violent, domineering and abusive, Cathy flighty and emotionally erratic), there was something about their plight that moved me. In my opinion a successful book is supposed to make you feel a range of emotions, frustration, anger maybe, or even hatred- these are all significant to your growth as a reader. To move you to feel these things- an essence that makes you feel a natural affinity to a novel. For me W. H though highly dramatized, is closer to reality for me than something like “Pride and Prejudice”. It encompasses the devastation of reality, of death and disappointment and unfulfilled yearnings. I don’t know why I drew this comparison, but I feel W.H has similar gritty, stark truths (murder and mental torture) comparable to certain scenes of the North in ‘Game of Thrones‘, albeit a censored, classical literature version!

Bronte’s depiction of the nature of Heathcliff and the wild Catherine are reflective of the setting- the harsh weather and isolation of the country. W H did leave a lasting impression on me, certain songs would remind me of scenes. I would imagine Cathy tapping on the glass, a ghost girl with a shrill cry and blood dripping on the windowsill, trying to break through the casement to reach inside. All images the Yorkshire Dales can inspire! Honestly, I think it’s important to have some sense of the isolation of the place, to imagine the structure of the buildings, the weather, landscape and daily pursuits of the young Heathcliff and Cathy to get a better idea of what Emily Bronte envisioned to be the backdrop of her novel.

w.heightsAnd last but not least, I will leave you with Hayley Westenra’s version of “Wuthering Heights”(originally sung by Kate Bush)

Some questions I want to ask you guys:

– How is W H comparable to Romeo & Juliet as a love story?

-What do you think Emily Bronte’s main message was, that she hoped to carry through to the reader? Main themes?

-Do you think it’s important to know about the author, in order to understand a book better? Emily died 1 year after completing “Wuthering Heights” at the age of 30, her sister Anne following. They had such short lives (if we compare to the life expectancy now). The novel was published posthumously by her sister Charlotte.

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song of solitude

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The whisper of mist, stealing over the land like dream’s breath,

o’er ruins, a fractured tooth on the rolling hillside,

discarded and forlorn as seasons pass.

Unto all stained in russet red, gold,

chasing an enduring reflection, for evermore.

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Copyright © 2015 by Kate W J White (All Rights Reserved)