Karen King is my guest today. She’s a well-published author. Karen has had over one hundred and twenty children’s books published by mainstream publishers such as Walker, Scholastic, Harper Collins and Macmillan. She’s written for many children's magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. She writes for all ages and in all genres; story books, picture books, plays, joke books, non-fiction and YA.
Karen, how did you get started writing?
I've always written. I had my first poem published when I was 11. I started my writing career with Jackie magazine, writing articles and photo stories.
Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?
It depends whether I'm writing to a commission or not. If I'm commissioned I have to plot as I have to send a synopsis and the first couple of chapters to my editor. If I'm not writing to a commission I work out the basic outline of my story then write 'by the seat of my pants.'
Are you most productive in the morning or evening?
Morning. Often I get out of bed and start writing straight away. I'm full of ideas in the morning.
Karen, I both read and reviewed your new Middle Grades novel WITCH ANGEL, and I enjoyed the book very much. Can you tell readers more about it?
Should Aluna betray her father to save the world?
Aluna’s father is the Master Wizard of the Katalan. On her thirteenth birthday she is initiated into the coven and swears allegiance to her clan. Then she has a vision about the mother she has never known and a gold sceptre with an eagle’s head handle.
She discovers that the mysterious new girl, Raffie, who appeared out of nowhere is looking for the same sceptre. Aluna hopes the sceptre will lead her to her mother so swears an oath of friendship with Raffie, pledging to find it together only to discover that Raffie is Angleyt. They are sworn enemies.
Aluna’s father is looking for the sceptre too, as are the evil Bygnorim. Will Aluna really betray her father? What dreadful secret is he hiding about her mother? Aluna and Raffie face terrible danger in their quest. Are their combined powers strong enough or will Darke Magyck win?
Outside, the moon shone brightly in an almost starless sky. The incense was already burning, and a cauldron of herbs was bubbling away near the altar. Aluna could smell the bitter aroma of the mudreef. The circle hadn’t been drawn yet, her father wouldn’t do that until the coven were all standing together. Witches, dressed in black, and wizards with their brightly coloured gowns of purple, red, and blue were already gathering for the ceremony. Sometimes, two or more would be initiated at the same time, but tonight there was only Aluna. The daughter of the Master Wizard had to have her own ceremony.
Aluna recited the oath and spells under her breath as everyone gathered together and held hands, forming a circle around her. Mirassa, the head witch, dipped a goblet in the bubbling liquid, leaving it on the altar stone to cool.
Aluna’s father picked up the white chalk and drew a circle around them all before stepping inside and closing it.
“A circle around us to bind us together,
Let no one break it or be banished forever.”
They all repeated the oath. Her father said a loyalty spell over the goblet, took a sip of the herbal drink and passed it to Aluna. She braced herself for the sour taste of the mudreef and swallowed quickly. Her throat burned and she wished she’d been able to find the sweeter tasting fissleshoot.
The goblet was passed around the rest of the group so they could all take a sip. The ritual bound them all together. If anyone left or betrayed the coven, then no Katalan would ever speak to them again. When you joined, you joined for life.
Aluna’s father called her forward to test her on her spells. First, the three most important spells: the protection, the prevention, and the returning spell—spells to protect you from harm, to stop bad magic, and to help you get back home. Other spells followed: the lost and found spell, the vanishing spell, and the shrinking spell. Aluna remembered them all. Although her father’s face was solemn, she knew from the look in his eyes that she had pleased him.
Now, it was time for the oath. The coven fell silent as Aluna’s father held out his left hand. Aluna linked the little finger on her left hand with his as she repeated the oath:
“Earth, water, air, and fire,
This oath I solemnly swear,
Joining this coven is my desire
I never will its secrets share.”
Mirassa stepped forward, holding a red cushion. Nestled on the cushion was a clear crystal sphere on a silver chain–the symbol of the Katalan coven. All the crystals were clear to begin with then changed colour according to the aura of the witch. What colour would Aluna’s become?
Her father lifted the pendant off the chain and put it around her neck, reciting the ancient blessing. As the sphere touched her skin, Aluna felt her body tingle. Was her special power coming to her already?
The crystal started to glow, changing colour. Aluna watched as it went through a rainbow of colours before settling into a silvery blue.
There was a gasp from the coven. Aluna looked over at her father and saw that he was staring at her, his eyes narrowed. What was wrong?
“It’s blue,” said Milav, one of the older witches. “We haven’t had a blue crystal for many years.”
“Not since Kristen,” someone else whispered.
Kristen. That was her mother’s name. Aluna shot a look at her father’s rigid face and steely eyes. He was angry, she realised, her stomach tightening. Was it because she had the same colour crystal as her mother? Maybe she had the same power as well.
Although she had no idea what her mother’s power was. Or anything about her mother at all. Neither her father or Sariah would talk about her. The power could manifest almost immediately, though it often took several days.
Oh, I hope I get it soon!
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