So we find ourselves nearing the end of October. Do you have kids in the house? Are they getting excited? Let's calm things down. Grab a cup of tea and come chat with author Judith Crow for a few minutes. Welcome, Judith!
SC: Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.
JC: Pen started as a character in a dream and developed from there.
I knew family had to be important to him – it’s too easy to create a sad backstory for your character to take away the sense of loss when they go away from home. Pen goes to live with his uncle in the second chapter of the book, but he spends the rest of the story missing his parents – even when they’re with him, he still misses them because he’s growing up without them. Napier (his uncle) is Pen’s father’s big brother, but there’s a big age gap so they’re not very close.
Pen’s a typical Main Character, and he has many of the traits which go along with that. To compliment him, I gave him a best friend: Marley. As a popular person, friendship is something Pen’s always taken for granted in his life but the relationship he develops with Marley is something much deeper than anything he’s had before. Over the course of the book, they definitely become more like brothers than friends.
SC: Sounds like Pen has had a bit of a rough ride. Because we're big on the supernatural around here, I want to ask you...do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?
JC: Yes – absolutely and 100%! I actually wrote all my paranormal experiences down in a free eBook called Those Experiences, which is available on the Crowvus website.
My mum has always had a really heightened awareness of the paranormal and most of her children inherited that in some degree. I think my scariest experience was probably when we stayed in a detached and remote house on the very edge of the Yorkshire Dales. It was an Easter holiday, so the nights were still quite long and the darkness which descended on the house was pretty much complete. There was a really strange feel to the building: some places seem to enjoy being holiday cottages (we’ve had our share of those) and you don’t mind being there alone all day, let alone going upstairs alone.
This one was full of a weird sense of bitterness about its situation. It obviously wanted to be a home. We heard scratching at the windows during the night, a dog could be heard padding across the landing while our own dog – shut in his crate downstairs – would wake up at the same time each night and bark as though someone had just walked into the kitchen. In my own room, the temperature would plummet in the middle of the night, leaving me too terrified to open my eyes until it had returned to a normal ambience. On the night before we were due to leave, all this stopped. It was genuinely as though the house was as glad we were leaving as we were!!
One for the ghost hunter, perhaps, but – despite the woodpeckers, owls and other fantastic wildlife – we vowed never to return.
SC: Sounds like you belong around here then, lol. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?
JC: I have two books coming out next year. In October 2022, I’ll be releasing The Ice Cult, which is the second book in The Rite Way trilogy. Hopefully you’ll want to keep reading on about Pen’s adventures after finishing Honour’s Rest. It is very much about the practical and psychological repercussions of what happens in Honour’s Rest, and Pen continues to develop as an individual, although perhaps not in the way he hoped he would!
In April, I’m launching Matthew and Alexander (working title!). It’s the first in a trilogy of books set during the sixteenth century and tying in closely with the Scottish and English royal families of the time. One of the main characters in the book is Margaret Tudor, who is on her journey to become Queen Margaret of Scotland. It’s quite different from The Rite Way though as each book has a different protagonist, and Alexander is the only character who appears in all three. My only real WIP at the moment is the third one in this series, which follows a young woman who goes to live at Honour’s Rest as a five-year-old.
Thank you so much for hosting me and asking these interesting questions – a combination of paranormal and writing is just about my favourite thing to talk about!
SC: Us too! Come back and visit any time! Let's take a look at Honour's Rest now.
Except One (950 Words):
Pen knew that Marley had been studying from different books, books that had highlighted the role of how to interpret and use the Rite, whilst he had only been reading about the importance of the thaumaturge and the history of different Rendelfs who had lived and died in Honour’s Rest. Nothing would come naturally to him, he was sure, but he thought of what he would most like to do and was both shocked and pleased when he heard a cry of impressed surprise from Marley.
He turned around and saw that, just as he had intended, Marley was being harassed by a curtain which had taken the form of a lady in crinoline, just as those in Orkney had done. However, the curtains in Honour’s Rest were far larger, so Pen couldn’t help but laugh as the curtain-ladies almost enveloped his friend in their voluptuous folds.
“Now something darker, I think,” he heard Napier’s voice say, but Pen tried to close his mind to his uncle’s words and focus only on the laughter of his friend. He would not be tricked into using the Knave’s Rite, he told himself. For the first time, he found himself breathing the Rite. He could feel it flowing through him, permeating every sense he possessed and filling his mind with the knowledge and freedom it offered.
Suddenly, he felt a sharp stinging sensation against his cheek and his left eye began to water. He heard Marley’s laughter stop and turned around to face his uncle, in time to duck as Napier flicked an elastic band straight at his face.
“Stop it!” Pen shouted, desperate not to lose the Rite he was only just beginning to find. Napier paid him no attention but just flicked another band into his face. It hit the lid of his watering left eye and Pen felt the pain mixing with the Rite which was coursing through his body. It no longer felt like a freeing experience, but he and it were wrapped around one another to take revenge on the man who was causing him pain. Another elastic band whipped against his ear and he turned back to face his uncle, his eyes burning with anger.
“Stop that!” he screamed again, and he felt the force of his anger leave him for a second and strike Napier. He thought his uncle would fall, but Napier seemed to catch Pen’s anger in his hands and, after moulding it slightly for a moment, he threw it back at his nephew.
Pen felt himself growing angrier. He could almost visualise the Knave’s Rite weaving its way around his body, his blood coloured by it and his watering eyes glowing as furiously red as they felt. He could see his uncle winding that invisible skein around his fingers, and Pen wanted to snatch it away and leave Napier helpless to whatever revenge he chose to take against the man who had so painfully dragged him from the happiest state he had ever known.
He glanced up at one of the enormous swords which was hanging on the wall and imagined himself severing the Rite which kept it there. His own was more powerful, as it lived and breathed along with him. Pen could see his uncle still winding the ridiculous invisible skein around his fingers and felt a sudden superiority. He did not need music or ridiculous hand gestures to wield the Rite. He could do whatever he wished just by thinking, breathing, knowing…
“That’s enough,” he heard Napier say, but that only made him angrier.
It was fine then, he thought bitterly, for his uncle to make him experience the Rite like a performing monkey and then shock him out of the experience through pain.
The sword began to shuffle away from its moorings, causing a cascade of dust and spiders’ webs to fall the twenty feet. He heard Marley calling his name, but he didn’t care. At that moment, he just wanted to show his uncle that he had the power, ability and focus to punish him for his actions.
“Stop that!” Napier shouted, just as his nephew had done seconds before. But Pen was no less stubborn than his uncle, and the sword continued to move across the room. “Stop that now!”
The hint of panic in Napier’s voice gave Pen a sense of satisfaction. He had achieved what Marley had not. He could see Napier’s fingers working frantically as he wound the Rite around them. The sword was now above his head, the pointed tip of the blade only six feet above him. With an angry cry, Pen sent it crashing down, commanding it to reach its target no matter whether or not Napier stepped out of the way.
There was a loud crash of metal as the sword fell on the floor, and the noise seemed to bring Pen back to his senses. The anger was gone, but it had been replaced with a sickening feeling of remorse and guilt which was already feasting on his insides.
“I’m so sorry,” he said.
His uncle’s face was almost as white as his right index finger, around which he had pulled the Rite tightly to prevent the sword from hitting him. Napier looked at him in silence for a few moments before shaking his head.
“It can’t be helped,” he said, his voice as calm as ever. “I should have known you had it in you. And every Rendelf must face the darker side of his apprentice sooner or later. I should be grateful it happened before you have full control of the Rite. I’ll tidy this place up. You two go and enjoy what’s left of the sunshine.”