I have such clever friends! Hot on the heels of Hamish MacNeil who brought out a brilliant novel for children of all ages, set very locally to us here in Somerset, not far from Cheddar Gorge, my good friend Fenja Hill has unleashed a collection of short stories, ‘written in the early hours of the morning’ and titled ‘Nightwriting’. Hamish and Fenja and another talented writer, Elizabeth Lawrence are my writing buddies with whom I go off on occasional jaunts, most recently to Stourhead in Wiltshire.
Fenja has a brief but complete blurb for her collection, ‘a selection of short stories ranging from fantasy fiction, through humour, pathos, murder and whimsy, and one short novel about a woman who is stranded alone on an uninhabited island after a plane crash.’ She has such an unusual imagination, and such a vivid way of writing, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t have read anything else quite like her stories.
I have known Fenja for about five years, ever since she arrived in Weston. She joined the Waterstone’s book club I was in, and I vividly remember the first time she appeared. She sat down opposite me, and I thought to myself that she looked an interesting person. It wasn’t long before she joined the writing group, and from that we ceded into the four jaunting writers. She is also an excellent quizzer, and last night joined me and teh South Africans for the Dolphin quiz. We didn’t win, but had great fun.
To remind you of Hamish’s novel, here is the blurb: When three young boys and their baby brother move from London to rural Somerset, they spend their time exploring the countryside around their new home. They make friends with Poppy, a lonely misfit, who shows them the old railway line and the abandoned quarry. They start to discover some strange coincidences and soon share Poppy’s obsession with local folklore. Before long, they all become embroiled in a time-travelling adventure that could have deadly consequences. This masterful debut novel combines the timeless children’s adventure stories of Enid Blyton and Clive King with the magic and folklore of C.S. Lewis, Alan Garner, and J.R.R. Tolkien in a thoroughly 21st century tale about friendship, bravery, witches, time travel and those things that lurk at the borders of our modern human senses. All you have to do is believe. The perfect book for avid readers aged 8 to 14 and for parents to read to younger children.