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This

This

I hope when they arrive they see this first.
The red-and-white lighthouse
tied to the cliff-top,
the Channel slipping away to reveal
a ribbed parchment of sand
weed-streaked rocks
and space for three men,
an arching fishing rod.

They will not see a horizon.
Rather sea, sky, morning in union,
a relaxing of green and grey,
suffused with childhood blue.

It is beautiful and warm.
I hope this is where they come.
I hope this is what they see.

 

Eastbourne, April 2017

Polesden Lacey – English Country House inspiration for my next book

The Lady in the Moon Moth Mask, the forthcoming book in The Secret of the Tirthas, takes place in a fabulous country house based on Polesden Lacey, a property near Dorking that was almost bequeathed to the Queen but ended up in the hands of the National Trust.

My wife and I take our boys there on a regular basis, as they love amongst other things getting their hands on old stuff, grandfather clocks, the chickens when they’re not away on holidays, and, appropriately, the stone griffins. Plus the grounds are huge, and beautiful, so there’s plenty of space to run around.

I always wanted the series to be very diverse, with equal parts mystery and action, and a strong contrast between the exotic and well-known. After Lizzie’s harrowing ordeal in the Cameroonian jungle in The Dreamer Falls, I decided to revert to a gentler setting, with the emphasis once again on mystery and intriguing characters.

After watching an excellent BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (and then reading the no-less-brilliant book) I knew Lizzie’s story leant itself to the same kind of set-up. So I did some research and took a lot of photos of the building, uncovering more of the absorbing story of Margaret Greville, who bought the house with her McEwan’s inheritance (‘I’d rather be a beeress than an heiress’), and who held regular country parties for socialites from London and the wider Empire.

Portrait of Margaret Greville, Polesden Lacey

Margaret Greville collected ‘people with the unerring eye of a stamp-collector’ according to the Evening Standard, and her guests included European Ambassadors, Earls and Countesses, writers and poets – and Maharajahs. A perfect mix for an intense and suspenseful story, in which Lizzie is left wondering whether guests are who they say they are – or whether they are demons in disguise, come searching for a lost Artefact of Power.

The Lady in the Moon Moth Mask will be out in the early summer. The final book in the series (currently with numerous working titles!) will be out early next year.

Margaret loved her dogs, all of whom ended up in Polesden’s famous pet cemetery.

A Year in Writing

Season’s greetings and a huge thanks to everyone who has supported me this year, particularly to bloggers, bookshop owners, festival organisers, and above all readers.

I’ve had a great year, and here’s a few highlights:

In January, I received my first review from an American blogger, Maureen, on her Hands Full Mama site. It’s an excellent site for reviews of children’s and YA books, and I was really pleased by Maureen’s write up: “I loved the way that Indian culture, religion, and mythology was incorporated into the plot. I also liked the mystery element…an exciting story.” If you want to read the full review – and perhaps subscribe to Maureen’s blog – you can do so here: The City of Light (Secret of the Tirthas) by Steve Griffin

The Dreamer Falls, Book 3 of The Secret of the Tirthas, came out in July. In the words of one reviewer: “I enjoyed the book very much. The author writes crisp and clear prose and has a gift for description. Above all he can tell an absorbing story. Although aimed at young adults this series can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.” Silversmith, 5-star review, Amazon UK

In October I was interviewed by the award-winning US children’s author, Cheryl Carpinello, on her blog – you can look at that here http://carpinelloswritingpages.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/meet-mg-english-author-steve-griffin.html

I did my second book signing at Barton’s Bookshop in Leatherhead in November. I can’t praise the owner and staff of this wonderful independent bookshop highly enough. Professional, friendly, funny – and always full of useful advice and insight into my writing. If you live locally please go there to buy all your books.

I had my first local radio interview at Dorking’s Pippfest in September, and in December I had a stall at my sons’ school Christmas Fair – yet more opportunities to meet and chat with readers.

In November I started a free promotion of the ebook version of The City of Light, which led to some high Amazon positions (#6 in UK, #13 in US), and the first Amazon number 1 in Germany. My mum is half German, so maybe there’s something in my storytelling that has particular resonance with our German cousins!

Right now, I’m halfway through writing the fourth book of The Secret of the Tirthas, The Lady in the Moon Moth Mask, and loving every minute of it. It’s set largely in an English country house, based on Polesden Lacy in the Surrey Hills. Plenty of mysteries, leading to some big surprises – and a very unexpected alliance…

I hope you all had a good year, and wish you all the best for 2017.

 

 

 

 

Ice

p1020749

Ice

At night, as you sleep, amorphous slugs of water
stretch silently across the brittle blades of leaves,
to become the chrysalis pins
of ice. Dawn delivers them a colour: white.

The cold air works a somatic spell across the farmer’s fields
like a brush over suede, yielding
a new glare, smoking and mist-bright

and making the land seem more like sea,
with ivory bands of grey-flecked foam
drifting across a callous, dark and salted green.

And in the morning as the thaw comes crackling
you walk out and begin to reshape, cone of black,
heart squeezing hot blood and head growling,
strange and beautiful as ice.

 

Ice first appeared in The Magazine no.3.

The City of Light’s first Amazon no.1!

The City of Light has reached its first no.1 spot in the Amazon charts!

2016-11-20

OK, let me qualify that for a moment.  It’s no.1 in Germany, in the chart of free children’s books in English. It also got to no.6 in the equivalent UK chart, and no.13 in the US at one stage, kept off the top spot by The Jungle Book, Treasure Island, and some books on Minecraft.

Anyway, it’s a start – and thank you to all those German readers who are downloading my book!

The Dreamer Falls – Goodreads Giveaway

I’m giving away a signed copy of The Dreamer Falls on Goodreads! For a chance to win click here:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Dreamer Falls by Steve   Griffin

The Dreamer Falls

by Steve Griffin

Giveaway ends November 22, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Cats Love Me

cat

Cats Love Me

you say as we pass one on a garden wall,
a mottled sack of idleness.
But as you proffer a mittened hand
a row of tiny white fangs
springs out amidst the fluff.

Turning a bend we spot a ginger puss
pulled tight across the path
by a squirrel, nibbling acorns, just yards away –
aware of us, yet ignoring us.

We walk towards him
and he holds his pose
making increasingly fine judgements
as we approach.

Now the cat’s dilemma –
to display, indiscreetly, his viciousness,
the bloody side of his nature,
or else to quickly don
the soft known coat of civilisation.

And, at the last moment, he’s there
beneath your stroking hand
wrapping the glad scarf of his tail
around your forearm –

lifting up his face to you
as if he were a proud young prince
waiting to be kissed.

 

This was one of several poems I had published in the Belmont Art Centre’s Poetry File programme for teaching in secondary schools in Shropshire.

The Dreamer Falls – Cover

Here’s the final cover for The Dreamer Falls, the third book in The Secret of the Tirthas. I’m very happy with this. What do you think? I’m doing a final proofread at the moment and aiming for the book to be out in the next 3-4 weeks. A perfect read for the beach!

The Dreamer Falls- Final

St George and the Dragon

Looking At It Now
– Saint George and the Dragon, Paolo Uccello, 1460. National Gallery

Knight, you’ve hit your target
wounded the beast, unruly child, diseased id
with your long, straight, storm-driven pole.
Brow forward, on prancing stead,
your deed is done –

the translucent lipless Princess saved.

But look how she’s joined in,
used her girdle to leash the beast
and thwart its fun –

in those Rottweiler eyes
you can see
the final froth of madness
as the horizon recedes –

claws dig into neat turf
wings splay diminished targets
as the poor-dog beast succumbs
between the armoured Nazi Knight
and his Ice Maiden, Nazi wife.