I want to talk to you about my older middle-grade / young adult fantasy “The Brugan”, which means… starting with a SPOILER ALERT! If you’d rather not know any of the ins and outs of “The Brugan” before you’ve read it… shut your eyes and leave now. (Come back when you have read it.)
As an author I get asked a lot of questions (no doubt you’ll recognise them). Where do you get your ideas from? What about the plot? The story…? The setting…? What came first…? And so on.
I wrote “The Brugan” back in 1998. The idea came to me not long after the death of my father. I wanted to see if I could write something that might include the theme of bereavement in a meaningful way. The permanent hole the loss of a loved one leaves in our lives; the thumping body blow it deals us knocking our world out of kilter. But wait up… Don’t I write fantasy adventure for older children?
Well, “The Brugan” has more than one thread to its story. The basic plot is simple. A twelve year old girl – Sarah Lemming – finds a mysterious Brugan’s egg. She hatches it. And unleashes the mischievous, not to say deadly, Brugan upon an unsuspecting world, a world in which he does not belong. And now she has to find a way to get him safely home. It’s a quest then… a fantastic, magical adventure that can be read simply for that. With all the hokum, the weird and wonderful characters, and furious action that goes along with it.
But then there’s that other theme… If we discover that the Brugan is physically lost because he is stuck in Sarah’s world, then we also discover that Sarah is lost too. Physically lost, because her mother has up and moved them into a new home, in a place she does not want to be, with the beginnings of a new family, she does not want. But more importantly, Sarah is emotionally lost. Her father has died; her relationship with her mother is broken; her relationship with her mother’s new boyfriend none-existent. It’s as if there’s a solid wall between them all. (Look carefully and you’ll also see the symbolism in the story.)
As is the way with all tales, there’s more to it than that… themes of loss, betrayal, love, hate, chaos, magical mischief and mayhem, all colliding… successfully.
And what about the setting…? I needed “The Brugan” to be grounded firmly in a real world. So I chose the English Lake District… I lived in the heart of the Lake District for a number of years. It’s a most rare and beautiful environment… a very special place. For hundreds of years it’s been a magnet for creative people of all types… most notably, the Nineteenth Century “Romantics” including the poet, William Wordsworth. And then there’s me… For those of you who know the country you might guess at some of the true origins of my fictional landscape.
Of all the characters in all my books Sarah Lemming is a particular favourite of mine. I’m proud of “The Brugan”.
Suggested readership: older-children/ middle-grade / young adult