Happy New Year!
Hello lovely readers, I hope you're all having your perfect New Year. Whether that's going to parties, time with family; or as I am probably doing (this post was pre-written) sitting in my new Christmas pyjamas reading the new book my boyfriend got me. (Or my best friend has persuaded me to go out and let my hair down).
2016 had many highs and lows. It was an awesome year for the Olympics and sport in general: Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro cemented their place in horsey history.
The ongoing wars, refugee crises, , and horrendous attacks.
This has also been the year that we have lost so many legends, it seems unreal.
I'm not even going to mention politics...
I have high hopes for 2017 being a great year.
The Oracle (Enchena #2)
It's going to start with the release of The Oracle (Enchena #2).
It's time to return to Enchena, and finish what The Lost Soul started.
After a brief respite, the Gardyn rebels have returned to fight the tyranny of King Hrafn and Prince David.
Samantha, Jillis and Tobias will have to find their place in the new vision of Enchena; but first, they have to risk everything to make it real.
New allies will rise, as the past plays a huge part in the future; and an Oracle must be brought, to guide them all.
8 things to know about Enchena
Mallus are the monsters unique to Enchena. They have dark fur, and spindly limbs, with long and deadly claws. Their faces are flat, hairy, and they have yellow eyes and sharp teeth.
The mallus are found in the forest in packs of anywhere between 4-20 individuals. The packs are always led by the strongest female. Mallus crave the hunt, and only eat fresh meat; although in winter they will scavenge if necessary.
The people of Enchena consider them a myth - a story to scare children and prevent them wandering in the woods. The truth is, anyone who does stumble upon mallus, doesn't live long enough to tell anyone.
Origin Story: Mallus may look similar to werewolves, but they are more closely related to apes. Their origin was an experiment of King Ragoul's to create the perfect soldier, by making a human with some terrifying animal features. As you can tell, it all went wrong; the mallus were wild and uncontrollable, they escaped to the forest where their descendants live today.
Bad Name: The word mallus was one that I derived from the latin "malus" meaning bad, evil etc. Little did I know at the time that "mallus" was also a latin word... meaning a lock of wool. So yeah, the people in Enchena are being chased by scary fluffy wool.
But the name was already in place, it was hard to call them anything else.
Secondly, some of you may have noticed that the name is very similar to "Malleus Maleficarum" which is a huge part of my witch-hunter series. (The word malleus means "hammer", which is still scarier than fluffy wool). But even though The Shadow Rises was released two years before The Lost Soul, the Enchena series was the first one that I physically wrote; and in my own head, I couldn't call these monsters anything else.
Unicorns exist in the forested areas of Enchena. They look similar to fine-boned horses, and they can come in any equine colour, with darker, easier to camouflage colours more common. They all have a pearly horn, which is about 12 inches in length.
They live in herds which can have more than fifty members, and are led by the strongest male unicorn.
Unicorns are hunted by humans for their horns, which fetch a high price. Nobody ever tries to catch a unicorn, as they don't do well in captivity and quickly die. In fact, only the Dark Being has survived being caught by humans, by using their own poisonous thoughts against them.
Telepathy: It was decided very early on that unicorns would "speak" by using shared thoughts. This was to emphasise the idea that, even though they are animals, they are our intellectual equals, able to phrase things in an eloquence that is beyond us.
And they share some similarities with horses. For anyone who doesn't ride, basically we tell our horse what to do and where to go, with our voice, seat, legs and hands (when it's done right, it looks like magic). In reality, the horse is paying attention to much more - they know where you're looking, how confident you are, how focused, etc. Which is effectively mind-reading.
Legan is the warhorse that belongs to Lady Samantha. And when I say belongs, she stole him.
During a mission to steal horses from the King, Samantha got distracted by a pretty white* stallion, Legan. She ends up taking him and forming a strong bond with this gentle horse. Samantha is only ever seen riding Legan or Alina, which plays on the image of the goddess Minaeri with her white unicorn steed Praede.
(*before any horsey people tell me off for calling the stallion "white", Legan is actually a very pale cremello, he just gets called white for the sake of non-horsey people.
If non-horsey people are wondering why I've put this in - most "white" horses are actually very pale greys - you can tell by their dark grey (almost black) skin. Calling them white is a bit of a newbie error. OK, lesson over!)
This character is based on a very real Legan: twenty-odd years ago, when I was a little girl, Legan was one of the first ponies I ever rode. In my eyes, he was this huge, white beast that looked like a racehorse.
Legan always had a knack for looking after the little kids, and anyone who was nervous; and then challenging the big kids. In his prime, he was one of the fastest ponies I ever rode, and he did have me clinging onto the saddle more than once.
He was awesome - or I should say he still is!
He's still at the riding school (with a much-reduced workload), being loved and cared for, and teaching kids how to ride. I don't think he's realised he's an old man yet!
Dragons are another myth in Enchena that refuses to stay in the history books.
They were the original inhabitants in Enchena, but the species died out by the time people came
Dragons are large lizards, growing up to 90 metres in length. They have leathery wings and a wingspan that equals their length. They come in many colours, as bright colours are often a statement of strength and supremacy. Dragons live mostly solitary lives, as they are proud and territorial; but they can live alongside their chosen mate, or form life-bonds with an amicable dragon.
The creatures have some magic, and can control one base element, the strength of which depends on the dragon. When dragons ruled Enchena, they didn't need anything more than this elemental magic, to control their territories and go about their lives. It was only after the demise of the species, that a certain two dragons experimented with what else their magic could do.
One of my main concerns with this series, was people's predisposed ideas about unicorns. Honestly, say the word, and what do most people think of? Rainbows, sickly-sweet, something for little girls?
I mean, even my cover designer was a little off when he came up with this image
OK, I admit it's quite pretty, and not horrible; but doesn't really represent the fact that Enchena is a country at war, or that the unicorns are as likely to attack you as anything else.
But this did inspire the campaign attached with this series, that #UnicornsRcool
Now, you might say that it was all just an excuse to dress my horse up like a unicorn and embarrass my sister and friends at the same time, but... I would say it was a lot of fun too!
Win a signed copy of The Oracle (Enchena #2) or a £5 Amazon Gift Card.
Two runners-up will win an ecopy of The Oracle.
This competition is open worldwide.
It will close at midnight on January 13th, and winners will be chosen at random.
Best of luck!