Did you know tonight is a Blue Moon? Gollancz is pleased to be bringing you a special guest post by Kit Berry, the critically acclaimed author of the Stonewylde series about the significance of the Blue Moon.
Back in the 90’s, I often drove past a long wall in Dorset and I’d imagine a secret world behind it – a walled off estate where strange things happened. I was a school teacher then, and thought maybe I could write a children’s story based on this idea. I would watch the full moon rise over the sea at Weymouth, where I lived, and dream my secret dreams. From my bedroom window I could see tumuli (ancient burial mounds) on the skyline, and I had a couple of weird encounters in the woods that set me on a path of discovery about local folklore, pagan beliefs and sentient landscapes.
Today, nine years on from when I first started writing, I sent back the proof corrections for the final book in the Stonewylde series, Shaman of Stonewylde. Tonight the full moon is a Blue Moon. This is when there’s a second full moon in the month, and it doesn’t happen that often. It’s an auspicious and rather magical time, and seems fitting for my final input into the five book series; a grand finale for something that’s been literally a dream come true.
Anyone who’s written a series of books will understand my feelings right now. These characters, this setting – they’re more real to me than my real life. It’s bad enough with a stand-alone book, but a series of five … It’s been very hard and very emotional letting go and bringing the entire thing to its conclusion. Stonewylde has been my life for so long. If I died today I’d feel that I’d achieved something, for nothing beats that buzz when a reader comes up and tells you shyly that your books have changed their life. It’s not an ego trip – it’s actually very humbling. Because I’m sure other writers will agree here – a bit like looking at ones own child, when you read back your own book, you can’t quite believe it all came from you!
I have a social network which my husband set up for my readers. We’ve almost reached 1000 members, and I’m not quite sure what will happen after this last book. Will they all fade away once they’ve read it? There are true friendships – even romances – which won’t just die. They’ve been nagging me to write prequels, spin-offs and even a Dorset guide exploring the real places that inspired the mythical estate of my series. I’ve told them this isn’t going to happen (probably).
There’s a thread on the forum where many of them have speculated about what will happen in this final Stonewylde book, which they’re all very excited about. They’ve discussed the huge cast of characters and examined the multitude of sub-plots, and have come up with some really good ideas. In fact some of the ideas are so good I wish I’d pinched them. Now of course I’m beset with fears that the final book won’t measure up to their expectations. Or I was until I finished the proof-reading last night and realised that actually, this book is the very best I could do. It had me in tears several times and I hope it’ll affect my readers the same way.
Tonight we’re having a gathering inside an ancient stone circle. There have been annual Stonewylde meet-ups for several years now (the first three books in the series were originally self-published, and the community has been growing for a while) and readers have travelled from far and wide to join together, some from overseas. But tonight’s is a smaller group and we’ve been given permission to spend the whole night of the Blue Moon inside a stone circle that’s off the beaten track, but quite famous. It’s a dowser’s paradise and home to many Druid ceremonies too. Location secret, I’m afraid! Some of the people coming tonight have never met before – how brave is that, meeting up with a bunch of strangers you found on the Internet, because you all like a series of books? In fact, now I think of it, that’s not a bad idea for the plot of my next book …
Kit Berry is on her second marriage and by default has eight children and two cats. Fortunately only her husband and cats still live at home. She was a school teacher and has also sold insurance, cleaned people’s houses and worked at a beach bar in Ibiza. Kit celebrates the pagan festivals and full moon, and members of her social network organise a Stonewylde rally at Avebury every year. She enjoys reading books and growing things. You can learn more about her and her books at www.stonewylde.com, join the conversation at www.stonewylde.net, and find Stonewylde on Facebook or by following @Kit_Berry.
Shaman of Stonewylde will be available on the 18th October where all good books are sold.