Sophie Vasilyevich is a teenager growing up in Anglond, the child of exiles. Sometimes grass springs up where she walks, and her future holds an unusual fate: she is going to be kidnapped when she is sixteen, and no one can stop it.
Taken between worlds to the city of Bath in 1920’s England, Sophie meets a young man called James Carnwallis, once a pilot in the Great War. But even as she falls in love, she learns more about the forces at work – and her fate in their plans.
As an alliance of shamans, ghosts and gods assembles in a desperate attempt to recover Sophie and prevent the destruction of their worlds, they find that their only hope may lie in Sophie’s gift, and in the Greenwood: a power older than time itself.
Targeted Age Group:: adult
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 5 – NC-17
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Winterbloom is the sequel to Malarat and the other two books in the shaman series. It marks a departure from the earlier books as it is the first one to visit the real world. The characters travel through the underworld and across time and space using the Greenwood. The Greenwood is a relative of William Morris's "wood between the worlds", and it has a character of its own. So we start in Lefranu, in the secondary world, and finish up in England, in the city of Bath, in 1920.
It's partly the story of a teenage girl with an uncomfortable heritage that she has to come to terms with, and partly the continuation of the family saga that started in Children of the Shaman. Everyone is older, though not necessarily wiser, and some of them have died – and risen from the dead.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters have evolved in my head over time. Some of them have been around since I was an adolescent. Others are more recent. I have to say that generally they just pop into my head. They are part of me, but some of them have aspects of friends and family. Some are more like archetypes, but most of them are based on real people. In Winterbloom, some of them are historical characters, like John Dee, the court astrologer to Elizabeth I, and Aleister Crowley. I had to do some research, but the historical characters are wholly fictional.
Dakker wondered what you would find in an underworld. Perhaps he would meet his ancestors, and see faces he remembered, as well as those he had never known.
He was not expecting the firedrake. It reared up when he entered a cavern loftier than the vault of Agia Sophia. With the body of a snake, the hood of a cobra and blood-red eyes, it looked too smooth, slick as a worm. It had fangs the length of a man’s arm, and flames licked around it and squirted from its mouth, burning the floor of the cave as it rose from the ground. Torches were useless against it; Dakker and El Shur threw theirs down and drew their swords. They carried the gladius, the Imperial sword that had served generations of men.
‘Shura! What is that?’ Dakker shouted against the roar of the flames.
‘Naga,’ said El Shur. And it struck, uncoiling its neck and snapping across the cave like a whip. They jumped clear, and the Naga followed them with its fiery breath. They backed against the wall, trying to remember where they had come in; the cave seemed to have sealed itself, and they could not detect any openings.
‘Is this the underworld?’ Dakker shouted. In spite of his fear, he felt elation at the size and power of the brute. Nothing this big could exist in the upper world; it had brought the underworld to life. El Shur glanced at him.
‘I don’t know, Dakker,’ he said. ‘No-one said there would be creatures like this.’
The flame forced them apart. They confronted the firedrake, balancing on the balls of their feet like gladiators, ready to run, jump or somersault. Dakker had not forgotten the tricks needed to outwit an adversary. As the snake darted out its neck, he brought down the sword, the trusty gladius, on its back; and the blade broke.
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