What’s this story all about?

Hi there everybody, thanks for checking out my new story. Writing it has been an adventure for me, and I hope reading it will be one for you.

As of today, Monday April 20, I’ll be reading a story I’ve been writing for a while, called The Pine Tree Peacekeepers, a chapter a day. That should take two weeks, but it may spill over into a third week, depending on the final chapter count. That’s right, the last couple of chapters are being finalised, though I know exactly how the story ends.

I’m really thrilled to be doing this with Good Bitches Baking, because they’re an amazing charity who spread so much kindness around New Zealand, and that’s something we all need plenty of right now, while times are tough, and countries are battling the Covid-19 coronavirus . Of course, at the moment GBB can’t do that through baking, with the country in lockdown, but they’ve been trying to find other ways to keep getting the kindness out there, and I’m really honoured to contribute to their #Kindnessfromhome programme. I’m very grateful to Anjuli Muller for her help in getting this set up. Check out the GBB Facebook page to see more about the programme.

To prepare for the start of the story, I wanted to give you some background to how it happened and what inspired me to write it, and also an early idea of some of the creatures you’ll be hearing about. The story takes place in an imaginary world, so the creatures are, mostly, ones I’ve thought up, but most of them also bear a strong resemblance to creatures that actually exist. And some of them do actually exist, but they’re not known by the names we’d know them by.

I grew up in Johannesburg, in South Africa, and I was really fortunate that we had a big garden. One of the notable things about that garden was that it had a really tall pine tree in one corner of the property. On a few occasions I had to crawl under that tree because my brother and I, and sometimes friends, had been playing football and the ball had gone under the tree. The branches reached really low, so it could be quite a prickly experience having to get down under them to fetch the ball, and the ground was usually covered with fallen pine needles that might stick into our knees. But it was a great tree.

When my daughters were small ā€“ they’re 23 and 21 now ā€“ they often wanted bedtime stories, and so I had to try to come up with ideas on the spot. One evening, putting my older daughter to bed – that’s her with me in the picture above, more than 20 years ago – I had a sudden thought and I invented two elves who lived in that tree, whose names were ā€¦ Twinkletoes and Monkeybreath. I’m not sure exactly why I thought of those names, but they became characters in a series of stories I made up for her at bedtimes. I should make it very clear here that the name of the second elf has nothing to do with them having bad breath. I wouldn’t want to write a story breath-shaming an elf, would I? You’ll find out what’s behind the name later in the story.

Those ideas have been with me for a long time, and about a year ago, I had the idea that it would be really nice to turn some of them into a story, or hopefully several stories, that would appeal to children, so I started writing a little bit.

But my job was really busy, and so my writing went on the backburner for a while. Then, in January, I had a couple of weeks off and I decided it would be a good opportunity to dive back in.

I discovered a couple of things then. The first was that I quite liked what I had written so far, so that was pleasing.

The second thing, though, was a bit of a lesson for me. I discovered that when I made up the elves all those years ago, I’d automatically made both of them blokes, males. And when I thought about it, in stories for my daughters, that was a pretty unthinking thing to do. So now the two elves are a teenage girl, that’s Twinkletoes, and a woman, Monkeybreath. That doesn’t mean it’s a story just for girls; there are plenty of male characters too. It’s a story for everyone. That’s the way I’ve tried to write it, and I hope I’ve succeeded, but that will really be up to you to judge. I really hope you enjoy it.

So what about these creatures?

We’ll start with pine elves. That’s what Twinkletoes and Monkeybreath are. You probably already have a good idea what you think an elf would look like, but what might ones that lived in a pine tree be like? They’d have to be pretty small, of course, just like the other creatures that share their home.

Then there are the capanguta. What do you think they might be? There’s a teeny bit of a clue in the name. Remember that the story is set in Africa too.

The third species you’ll encounter is the packolvers. There are two quite big clues in that name as to what they’re based on.

Then there’s a creature called a furriensis, with some interesting powers. There are a few of these in the story, but one plays a really prominent role. Here’s a clue. There’s a fairly good chance you have one of these at home, or at least you have friends who do. But can any of them see what these ones can?

And lastly there are ‘the giants’.

Feel free to have a think about what sort of creatures those might be.

Anyway, I hope that’s helped to set the scene for you. Looking forward to catching up with you in the story. Please tell your friends if you think they might be interested.

If you have any questions, you can send them to me via the email on the contact page of this blog, or write them underneath the posts on the GBB Tales with Grant page. I’ll try to answer as many of your questions as possible and may feature some of them on the daily readings.

Take care, stay in your bubble, and stay safe.

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