At last the final draft of The Kissingtrees is ready for beta reading. Editor booked and the clock is ticking! Anybody looking to get their teeth into an entirely new and unique middle grade fantasy story (70,000 words) can mail me and we can discuss you becoming a beta reader!
If you would like to become a beta reader mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
So what is the Kissingtrees about?
‘When Jen and Robert chose to move and raised their children here in the non magical world, they thought that they would be safe. That their children would grow to be gwinduls – none magic kind. However, the lure of the land of Magia would not be undone. Strange forces were ever at work and one by one their children began to realise that they were different. No matter how hard their parents tried to conceal their past, the truth confronted them at every turn….’
Below you will find the first 1,300 words and I invite you to immerse youself in the world of The Kissingtree family.
Present day in the gwindul world
In the pristine village of Ramsnip, on the border of Devon and Cornwall, England, sat two rather grand old white houses that were known locally as ‘the Old Gentlemen’.
At the bottom of the beautiful long green lawns that lay behind the houses were sand dunes and Perithkin rocks. The rocks formed a secret cove that hid the old smugglers’ caves and tunnels that led to all manner of wonderful and mysterious places. When they were first built as small cottages, the Old Gentlemen had been used by many a fisherman, lighthouse keeper, lifeboat folk and even smugglers. Over hundreds of years, the Old Gentlemen had borne witness to many things. If the Old Gentlemen could talk, what a tale they could tell!
On stormy nights, as the waves beat the rocks and the wind screamed along the coast chasing the rain, the old houses had sung a long dulcet song to calm the raging storms. Stranded souls at the mercy of the high seas may well have had their doom sealed were it not for the intervention of the Old Gentlemen. But that was long ago, and nobody believed such stories any more. So much time had passed that the Old Gentlemen were seen nowadays as nothing more than bricks and mortar.
The current occupiers never looked beyond the sand dunes that lay at the end of their garden. In all the years the Kissingtrees had lived at Number Two, they had hardly even looked beyond the old lighthouse, let alone over the garden fence to old Mrs Codgins’s place. Had they ever done so, they would surely have noticed her busy and strange ways as she, and the many creatures that were drawn to her garden, worked ever long in their purpose.
Jen and Robert, and their seven children of all ages, sizes and personalities were busy with modern life. The Old Gentlemen had never known a family quite like the Kissingtrees, and the family had yet to discover the house’s many secrets. Each, then, still had much to learn about the other …
Jen and Robert spent much care and attention looking after their old house. It stood proudly with whitewashed walls and neatly painted Georgian sash windows – nine of these at the front, and nine at the rear. It had an imposing black wooden door that led off the street into a magnificent hallway that was as broad as it was tall. About halfway along began a grand sweeping staircase that in days gone by had been the centrepiece of the old house.
The children much preferred to use the wooden spiral staircase, which led directly from the upstairs to the heart of the home: the kitchen. This had been where the family business and dramas had been played out over the last twenty years or so. The teapot was usually hot, the biscuit tin always verging on empty, and the oven was always baking another batch of something rather tasty. The children ensured the house never rested; there was always a bump, snort, scream or giggle, no matter what the hour.
From the outside, Number Four was a mirror image of its brother, although its paintwork was dull and flaky. It had the appearance of being rather humbler. That was not to say that it was any less loved or well cared for by its sole occupant. The heart of this home was its garden, and a more magnificent garden was never likely to be seen. Mrs Codgins shared her home and garden with foxes, badgers, owls, rabbits, squirrels, and all types of birds and insects. There were even creatures that had no names – not in the everyday world at any rate. All came and went as they pleased in one harmonious wonderful jumble, never threatened by the old woman. In fact, they seemed to pay her reverence and she to them.
Mrs Codgins and her old house had got to know one another very well indeed over the last one hundred years or so. Of late she lived quietly alone in her huge house, always ready with a smile for the Kissingtrees, but they were ever distracted and paid her little attention, although they were never rude, and they helped whenever they had a mind to. The old woman kept herself to herself but always made sure to remember each of the seven children’s birthdays. She even listed them on a chalkboard on her kitchen wall.
Natasha – 23 years: Sensitive, shy, fragile, wonderful – H
B/day: 21st September
Sean – 21 years Confident, considerate, brave – GK (Definite!)
B/day: 19th July
Rose and Delia (nonidentical twins) – 14 years: Mischievous, tenacious, unpredictable, loyal,
loud, intelligent, moral, loud!! unbearable, charming, loud!!! – MK (Possibly H?)
B/day: 27th March
Jack – 12 years: Loyal and true – MK (Only just!)
B/day: 9th April
Lucy and Emily (nonidentical twins) – 6 years: All of the above – MK H (Absolutely!)
B/day: 7th August
Mrs Codgins happened to know all manner of things, but most of all she knew things that mattered. For instance, she knew how to outwit a gollop, had once reared dragons (although that was in her own world and not this one) and she had a unique affinity with all living things. Not that anybody would ever have guessed or taken the time to notice.
People were happy to believe that she was merely an eccentric old woman. After all, who had ever heard of a gollop? Or believed that dragons really existed? Whoever in this world had ever heard of a hermafour? The people of the village did not have the faintest idea about such things and, of course, what they did not understand, they did not believe.
But there were those who came from a little further afield, perhaps, who appreciated that Mrs Gladys Codgins did know things …
Some very strange things had been happening of late at the Kissingtrees’. A rather awful smell had been emanating from the upstairs bedrooms, and there had been peculiar noises for months. None of the children had claimed responsibility for the smell, although young Emily had been accused of snoring without due care and attention. A claim that she most passionately denied. It had all driven the children’s mother, Jen, slowly to despair. All the children except Natasha and Sean (who were considered beyond reproach) had been asked to turn their rooms inside out. Huge piles of dirty socks and pants were accessed and either washed or taken to the back garden for incineration. Plates, bowls and spoons that had been written off as lost were retrieved triumphantly by their father in what he called the ‘great dirt purge’. No fewer than four crusty old half-eaten sandwiches, which had not only grown mould but might shortly have grown legs, too, had been recovered by Jack’s mother from the back of the radiator. Last, and by no means least, the elder twins, Rose and Delia, had been tried and convicted in their absence. Their crime? Using their mother’s best china to grow every strain of mould and fungus imaginable, in what might once have been cups of tea.
The smells and noises created a perfect distraction for the family’s unwanted secret visitor. She had been using Number Two for as long as they had. In fact, her family went back many generations to when the Old Gentlemen were first built. Longer even than the ghost that had been raiding the fridge and larder for years, although the elder twins had a suspicion that the ghost had a striking resemblance to their brother, Jack.
The Kissingtrees had the unwanted pleasure of sharing their house with a gollop. This incredibly beautiful squirrel-like creature was trouble with a capital T. She had huge, mesmerising blue eyes, a bushy black tail, lush golden fur, marsupial hind legs, tiny black claws and thin bat-like wings. She simply had no place in the non-magical world, but here she was and nothing at all in this world or the other would ever move her. For gollops are as fast as lightning and possess deep mystical powers – powers that could easily best the average witch or wizard, and the Kissingtree children were not quite that.