Sunday, 8 April 2018

Guest blog Post: The Ghost of Crow Cavern by John Wedlake and Norman Mounter (Children's, 7 years +)

March 2018, Austin Macauley Publishers, 98 pages, Paperback/Ebook 

A wave of delight and anticipation sweeps through a small community of red squirrels as they behold a vast fleet of boats carrying their distant cousins towards them.  They will no doubt bring incredible wealth, wisdom and joy to the humble squirrels of Nutshaven.

However, the dream soon becomes a nightmare.  Their distant cousins soon turn out to be enormous and brutish bullies of an ever-expanding Grey Empire.  Shadowtail - the brilliant but intensely evil Grey leader - announces that their lives are about to radically change:

“Your colony is now ours, and we shall endeavour to use you and your resources to enrichen the imperial spoils of conquest and world domination.”

With their entire way of life now under threat, will the wisdom of old Normsk, the wits of young Cheswick and the might of Brutenuts the Brave be enough to counter such a dark and dominant force?

Nayu's thoughts
This wasn't quite my kind of read but I've read similar books in the past so thought you'd like to hear about it! John kindly agreed to do this guest blog post in place of a review from me.
Guest blog post by John Wedlake
Cover art without text
Cheswick Redbrush is young, clever and really quite red – he is a red squirrel. The peace-loving reds live a simplistic life in the respectable pursuit of the perfect nut. But this harmony is about to change. When sails appear on the horizon one day, Cheswick and the rest of the community assemble on the beach, both intrigued and excited. And when an enormous grey squirrel sets foot on the sand and announces that everything’s about to get a whole lot better, then why shouldn’t the reds believe him? But the sweet dream quickly turns sour when Cheswick discovers that the visitors are only interested in destruction and conquest. This enslaving Grey Empire is under the brilliantly evil leadership of Cornelius Shadowtail and his thuggish sidekick, Scug Butcher. The Ghost of Crow Cavern examines how ruthlessness and cunning can turn a peaceful world into a world of terror and subjection. But can such a brutal regime last forever? Cheswick will try his hardest to ensure that it doesn’t.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea for ‘The Ghost of Crow Cavern’ stemmed from a simple observation. When I moved to Finland I noticed that the squirrels are red and at home in England they are grey. When I looked into the reason why I found out they used to be red in England but their numbers seriously depleted when a larger grey squirrel species was introduced from North America.  

The truth about the depletion of the red species was, in the main, caused by the reds not having protection from certain viruses which the greys carried. But I imagined an invasion, fight for survival, resistance, bravery, heroes and villains. The great thing about the world of fiction is that one is free to write what is in one’s imagination rather than having to adhere to hard facts. This is one of the reasons why particularly children are able to write amazing stories, their imaginations can run wild which makes for very exciting fiction! 

By sheer chance I teamed up with my dearest friend from my childhood. We used to write stories when we lived in the same street as nippers and while writing ‘The Ghost of Crow Cavern’ the old enthusiasm came flooding back. We were 10 year olds again who were letting their imaginations run riot! 

In the story there are heroes and villains, as you would expect in a tale involving invasion but by far our favourite character is ‘Shadowtail.’ Norman has a real appreciation for language and he delved into ancient Greek to come up with the name. In ancient Greek the word for ‘squirrel’ is ‘skiouros’ from ‘skia’ meaning shade and ‘oura’ meaning tail. We changed the shade to shadow and then we had our main villain’s name, ‘Shadowtail.’ 

Shadowtail is extremely learned and intelligent and very confident. He speaks softly and articulately but if you judge a squirrel by his acts, he is utterly ambitious, sinister and ruthless. The combination of his character creates a cocktail of villainy and it will take something very special to stop him executing his dark plans for red squirrels of Nutshaven.

Our hopes as authors
Our biggest hopes are that the readers enjoy the story. We hope that they get to be stimulated by the characters and the struggles they are forced to endure and we hope that the book’s message which is ‘no matter how difficult things can become there is always hope’ shines through. If the book is received well by the readership hopefully we would be asked to continue the story and write a series. If we are allowed to dream we think that ‘The Ghost of Crow Cavern’ would make a fantastic animated film. 

We hope you read about Cheswick, Brutenuts and the gang! 

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