Happy New Year from the entire DOTG Family!
As we are all still on the first few blank pages of a 365 page book, I want to encourage you all to embrace the possibilities that each dawn brings and to remember that every single sunrise is a new beginning.
May your days be bright, your curiosity be bold and your adventures be everlasting!
I know a lot of people were saying that 2016 was a terrible year and the common consensus seemed to be that we were all very happy to see it go… but I have to disagree.
2016 was an absolutely incredible year for not just Dawn of the Guardian, but for my family and I and I couldn’t be more thankful for all the places we traveled, the adventures we experienced, the people we met, the connections we made and the dreams that became reality.
Another reason why I will always remember 2016 as a blazing beam of light is because it was the year I finally brought Dawn of the Guardian into existence as a published novel. It has only been 8 months since that magical night of beginnings in Carlton, Melbourne and already the people I have met and the experiences I have lived because of it have been unparalleled, irreplaceable and completely and utterly priceless. I cannot wait to see what new adventures 2017 will bring and where Dawn of the Guardian will travel!
“It made me realise just how much travel played a part and has always played a part in guiding me along my journey of writing, how much the everyday sights, sounds and smells had impacted me and how they had translated across in the mannerisms and personalities of the characters I wrote. “
Because truly, it is traveling and the real untampered emotions you feel when you explore a new place or meet a new person that constantly inspire me to write.
You may already know (because I just can’t stop talking about it) that this last autumn, my family and I had the chance to visit Scotland and its Highlands. It was a time that was the very embodiment of enchantment. There was just something about the way the lights sparkled over Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat and the way the wild Highland air seemed to make every single particle of my body sing with life that instantly enthralled me.
It wasn’t the only destination that had ever beguiled me so. The last place where I had felt so at home instantly was Arcos de la Frontera, deep in the heart of Andalusia, Spain, the shining white washed town that was the birthplace of Dawn of the Guardian.
It made me realise just how much travel played a part and has always played a part in guiding me along my journey of writing, how much the everyday sights, sounds and smells had impacted me and how they had translated across in the mannerisms and personalities of the characters I wrote.
At the very beginning, I found that almost everyone would say: “Write what you know,” but when I started writing Dawn of the Guardian, all I had was the name of a brown eyed, black dog and my infinite imagination. I never envisioned that what I would write would have a truth to it, that a fantasy fiction adventure novel could hold fragments of myself within every single letter or punctuation mark. But it did.
There aren’t too many times growing up when you just stop and pause for a second, look around and realise what a crucial moment you are living. In that moment you just know, that when you look back one day, you’ll know that it will be this moment you will remember, that rare moment when you caught yourself becoming older, as if for just a fleeting few seconds it was as if you had stepped outside of your own body and were a stranger to yourself.
You watch as you change right before your very eyes, the words you spoke echoing in your ears, the people that surrounded you, no matter how unfamiliar, always there, always present in that memory.
I was in Montclair Library, New Jersey, standing before a Home Ed Book Club just seconds before I was about to speak when a moment like this happened to me. It was my very first event of Dawn of the Guardian’s North American leg of its Book Tour and I had spent the last two days working over my speech, usually reserved for Traditional School Visits or Assemblies, trying to find the perfect balance between easy-going and thought provoking, between memorable and serendipitous.
After all, this was a last minute invitation to a Home Ed group meet-up that also included me giving a short talk on Dawn of the Guardian and my journey to publication. In short, I was laying my dreams out before them. I didn’t want to sound too formal or at the same time, too casual. I was collecting my thoughts about to address this group of children and teenagers and their parents when I realised my hands were shaking but strangely, not from the nerves that have plagued me leading up to this very moment.
Whenever I try to explain the uncanny feeling of your stomach turning inside out like a washing machine gone mad, most people nod sympathetically before quickly following up with the words “But once you’re out there in front of everyone, you forget all about it don’t you? It just comes naturally and you can just talk.”
Then it’s my turn to nod, trying to hide the fact that I’m not sure that I do forget. That no matter it be an Interview, a Presentation or a Public Speaking Engagement I’m always in a state of hyper awareness, conscious of every single movement and every single question and that my blood will only stop pounding like a drum when it is all said and done. The truth is, I’m never entirely sure what’s going to happen when I step out in front of a new group, my dream curled within my fingers, raw and real, and that behind my smile, I’m wishing with all my might, for nothing to go wrong and for my way with words not to freeze up like a lake encased with ice after a dark and brittle winter’s night.
And so, there I stood, counting down the seconds to what I could only imagine would be a silence so very loud, watching the mother who leads Montclair’s Home Ed Book Club, the woman I had met only three minutes ago, to turn and face me so I know that it is my time to speak. She swivels around, so very slowly, her smile bright, her eyes encouraging and in that moment my muscles weaken and all at once it is as if I am floating.
I see myself, my spine slightly curved and my ankles turned inwards by nerves. And all at once, as if a bright, clarifying spotlight has shone down onto me, I am forced to look my fear straight in the eye and in that same moment, I see it for all it is. All the intricacies, all the complexities, all so startlingly simple.
I take a step forward, clutching a copy of Dawn of the Guardian. My hands stop shaking and I push the hair out of my eye with a calm burning inside of me that I don’t remember experiencing before and then, as if we were all long lost friends, reunited after a journey and not just a group of people brought together by a shared love of books, I begin to speak.
And for the first time and yet not, I know what it feels like to forget, to let the words flow like a waterfall, for the right word placed at the right time is like magic. It is only when I am done, after those peculiarly blurry, yet incredibly lucid four minutes that I know that when you open your heart out before people you have not yet met and lay your dreams into the palm of their hands, they will handle them with a care and kindness that you can only marvel at and that to trust is everything. But I had known this all along.
I see these children and teenagers before me and I see my life reflected in their eyes and then without anyone knowing at all, I have changed. I have grown and I am not who I was just a few seconds ago. Without travel, without leaving my own little corner of the world and forcing myself into new and even uncomfortable situations, I never would have experienced that same all absorbing passion for writing and never truly looked deep into the very depths of my soul and listened to the whispers of my dreams.
So now along those very same lines… It is time for the news that is literally making my hands shake with excitement as I type these words: Dawn of the Guardian’s North American Tour Dates have been revealed!
I can’t wait to spend the next months taking Dawn of the Guardian all across the continent but most importantly, I cannot wait to meet all of you! It’s definitely been a precarious last few weeks trying to get the outline of our route planned and the task has held many a challenge, not just for me individually, but also for all four of us as a family, but I know we have all come out stronger and far more resilient because of it.
If you do have a town, city or mountain top village you would like for us to visit, you must let us know now!
So hop on over to the Contact page and make sure to send me an email if you want us to visit a school, library, bookstore, community centre or Pomegranate Festival near you.
In other news, I was up at 2:30am the other night, trying to catch up on my own reading (which I’ve heinously neglected) when I got a notification on YouTube for a video titled The Best Books of 2016. Guess which book made the list? If you guessed Dawn of the Guardian you would be correct. It was even more of a wonderful surprise when I found out who had posted the video: Self confessed book nerd, reader and reviewer extraordinaire, ukulele enthusiast and my dear friend and online pen pal Julianne Marie!
I will actually get to meet Julianne for the very first time when we head to New Brunswick this month and while our glorious three-hour Skype conversations have been absolute bliss, I cannot wait to get to see her and to experience some of Canada’s stunning Winter together.
As this is the first full Winter I am experiencing in 3 years I must say, it has definitely been an experience! On one hand I absolutely love the invigorating cold that comes with crisp Winter mornings, the coziness of being able to curl up inside with a book and a warm cup of tea and of course the thrill of waking up and looking out the window to find the world completely blanketed in a thick layer of pure white snow. In those moments, I find myself inhabiting the spirit of a child and the only thing that stops me from prancing about in the Winter wonderland all day is the fact that hypothermia literally starts to encase my toes after ten minutes. After that, it’s back to warm drinks, blog writing and good books until the next time I forget enough to go back outside.
However, we’re all getting ready for a much anticipated change of scenery for with the announcement of the tour dates also comes the embarkation of adventure!
We have now left behind New Jersey and New York City and have set out onto the open road, first stop: Ottawa, Canada! It is the first time we are returning to Canada in almost three and half years and I cannot wait to return to some of our favourite places, reunite with some incredible people and to create some more marvellous memories!