by Nancy Bell
Laurel isn’t out to save the world, just her mom from cancer.
Have you ever wondered how you would handle it if your mom was terminally ill? What if you were sent to stay with people you didn't even know in another country because your father was at the hospital all day and night?
Laurel is faced with both of these realities, what she really wants is a miracle. She wants her mom to be cured of cancer.
Join Laurel as she searches for her miracle amidst the magic of the Cornish countryside. She is aided by her new friends Coll, Gort, and Aisling and helped along in her quest by the creatures of legend and myth. Vear Du, the Selkie, Gwin Scawen, the Cornish Piskie, Belerion the fire salamander, Morgawr the flying sea serpent who does Vear Du a favour, and Cormoran, the last giant of Cornwall. They must battle the odds in the form of bullies and confusing clues. Will they emerge victorious? Will Laurel have the courage to solve the riddle and make her miracle a reality?
Find the answers in the pages of Laurel's Miracle.
(Q) Thank you for joining us today. Before we begin, please tell our readers where they can find you.
Link to website: http://www.nancymbell.ca/
I twitter as @emilypikkasso
(Q) Tell everyone a bit about your book.
Laurel’s Miracle is a multi-layered urban fantasy which deals with some of the issues faced by young people today. Laurel’s mother is seriously ill with cancer and Laurel is sent to stay with an old friend of the family in Cornwall, UK. The trip was planned before her mother became ill. The plot also touches on the strength of friendships, overcoming the effects of bullying and dealing with abuse. Wow, that sounds pretty dark, but honestly Laurel’s Miracle is about hope, courage and love.
There is plenty of mystery thrown in; Laurel must solve a riddle in order to gain a chance to save her mom. The magic and mystery of the Cornish landscape lends itself to the telling of the tale and there is quite a cast of mythical creatures. A Cornish Piskie known as Gwin Scawen lends his help, a Fire Elemental whose name is Belerion pops in and out to assist in the quest. Laurel makes the acquaintance of a Selkie and a sea monster as well. Woven into the story is a lot of information about the old stone megaliths that dot the Cornish Peninsula.
The second story in the series is coming out in December. It is titled A Step Sideways and follows one of the male character’s life after Laurel goes home to Alberta. I am also working on the story of Laurel’s gramma Arabella which will cover some of the story elements hinted at in Laurel’s Miracle. Arabella deserved her own book to tell her story.
(Q) Where did the concept for the books come about?
I had a bad wreck with my horse and piece of farm equipment six years ago and consequently had an enormous amount of time on my hands. Lying in bed is not my favourite pastime. I took the opportunity to start researching some things which I never had time for before. While reading up on earth energies and ley lines, the idea for Laurel’s Miracle was born. The project took on a life of its own and commandeered my attention for over two years while I researched and wrote the novel.
The story just kept growing and the secondary characters became so real and larger than life that I knew they needed their own story as well. Gort’s story is being released this December in A Step Sideways, Arabella’s story is about half finished and I have a number of other ideas which are in my WIP file. Aisling is going to have her own book and I have an idea rattling around in my head to tell the story of how Vear Du, the Selkie, Gwin Scawen, the Cornish Piskie and Morgawr, the sea monster met and became friends. Then there is always the stories of large black cats like panthers being seen in Cornwall. I know there must be a story there…hmmmm….how to work it in?
(Q) How long did it take you to finish, from concept to final product?
Laurel’s Miracle took two years to write and research, then another couple to edit and finally get a contract. I started writing the novel in 2006 and it is being released September 30, 2011. Good things are worth waiting for.
(Q) Which authors have most influenced your own writing?
Gilean Douglas was a Canadian non-fiction author and poet who I knew from the time I was quite young. She encouraged me in my early endeavours and we stayed very close friends up until her death in 1993. Charles de Lint is my favourite current author; I love his mix of myth and legends with everyday life. He is also a Canadian. Next, I would have to say Jack Whyte, his passion for research and attention to detail inspires me. He has the wonderful ability to find the grain of truth hidden in the legends and bring it into the light of day.
(Q) What do you do for fun other than writing?
I love to garden, hunt for antiques and my great passion is my horses.
(Q) Do you have any favourite place where you feel your Muse is more apt to come and play while you write? Or perhaps you listen to music? If so, what do you listen to?
My Muse ambushes me where ever and whenever it pleases. I have written down lines of poems and stories on the tags off feed bags in the barn, on Tim Horton’s bags…you name it, I’ve probably written on it.
I love to listen to music while I write, Celtic music, harps, bodhrans, pipes. I also listen to The Travelling Mabels, Ian Tyson, Corb Lund, Roger Whittaker and I love Enya’s music as well. It’s a very eclectic mix
(Q) In your ideal world, put in order those of most value to you: true love, family, success at writing, world peace, clean air and water, other.
The wish that everything (human, animal etc.) in the world has sufficient food, water, warmth and love in day to day life.
The wish that all decisions were made with compassion and care for everything affected the decision. That would include all life and the welfare of the planet. Decisions made not based on monetary gain.
(Q) Plotter or pantser?
Oddly enough, I am both. Sometimes a whole book will stem from one sentence which is presented to me by my Muse. Other times, as in the case of Laurel’s Miracle, I had to plot out the sequence of events to ensure I got her to the right place at the right time.
(Q) Coffee or tea?
Definitely tea. Green tea or white tea.
(Q) Do you have any new projects that you are working on? If so, what are they?
I am in the middle of edits for A Step Sideways and I have a sweet romance coming out in March of 2012 called Christmas Storm which I will be starting edits for soon. Arabella’s Secret is waiting patiently for me and I have a non-fiction manuscript called Irish Fireside Tales sitting in the wings as well. Killarney Sheffield and I are also collaborating on a tale of Jack the Ripper with a decidedly different take on the story. Have you ever wondered…What if Jack the Ripper fell in love?
(Q) What do you do to market your work? How did you start and where do you learn to market?
I talk to anyone who will listen. I twitter and use Facebook to interact with people. I have a website, and I really must get on board and start a blog. I am also donating part of the proceeds from Laurel’s Miracle to Dare to Dream Horse Rescue, and some of the proceeds from Christmas Storm will be donated to a local animal shelter. One of the characters in Christmas Storm is an abused dog so it just seems to fit. I think it is so important to give something back to the community and the causes I truly believe in. Writing is a gift; the ability to touch others with my words and evoke strong emotion through them isn’t something I ever take for granted. I write because I love it and I really can’t imagine not writing, so it seems only fair I should share my good fortune.
(Q) How about an excerpt to tantalize the readers?
This is from near the beginning of the story. Laurel is having a meltdown because she is scared and misses her mom. This is the point where she encounters the White Lady of the sacred spring and things really start to get interesting. I hope you enjoy this tiny peek into Laurel’s world.
* * *
She was abandoned half way across the world. Mom needs me; I need Mom; I want to be there! The tears dripped off her nose into the pool, faster and faster. She needed to stop crying, but she couldn’t. The loss of control scared her, and she was very cold now. Her feet felt like ice, her wet jeans clung to her cold legs. In between the sobs, Laurel’s teeth started to chatter.
Through the blur of tears, there was a shimmer over the surface of the pool. She hiccupped and blinked. A gentle hand touched her hair, smoothing it back from her face. Mom! Mom always smoothed her hair when she was sick or upset. Warmth spread through her....
The woman about her mom’s age, but it wasn’t her. The lady had blue eyes, and her skin glowed. Her hair was bright and silvery blond. It hung long and gossamer around her face, falling over the weird hooded robe she wore. The fingers on her hands were short and sturdy. She was the most beautiful person Laurel had ever seen, except of course for Mom.
“No, sweet child, I’m not the mother you are missing so badly.” Her voice blended with the sparkling voice of the spring.
The woman sat down and rested a hand on her cold shoulder. The touch was comforting. Laurel wriggled around and sat cross-legged with her knees drawn up to her chest. She wrapped her arms around them shaking with shivers. The woman wrapped her cape around Laurel. She gathered the soft fabric up under her chin, breathing in the sweet scent of verbena and lavender. Immediately, she was warmer and calmer. With her eyes on the fall of the water into the little rock pool, she searched for something to say, embarrassed at being discovered wailing away like a baby. Even worse, by someone she didn’t even know.
“Do you live around here?”
“In a manner of speaking, I do. I can usually be found somewhere near this spring,” the woman answered.
“Do you know Sarie?” They must be friends, if this woman hung out in Sarie’s pony field.
“Sarie and I are old friends. She is the current custodian of this spring.”
“Does the spring have a name?”
“Some call it the Well of the White Lady,” the woman said softly.
“Who’s the White Lady?”
“She is the spirit of this place, this spring. But she is connected to all the sacred wells and springs, indeed to all the landscape that is Britain,” the woman explained.
“So she’s like an undine?” She remembered her mom’s story about the water spirits.
The woman’s laughter spilled into the serenity of the small glade. “Goodness, child where did you hear of undines?”
“My mom tells me stories about them.”
“Undines are water elementals. They dwell in any body of water and are small and childlike, although they can be quite helpful at times. The White Lady is the actual spirit of the spring, associated with a particular spring. She is however connected to the greater feminine spirit which inhabits all the sacred springs and dwells in the landscape about us. The greater Spirit is known by many names Mary, Brigit, the Lady of the Lake, and in other lands as Isis, to name just a few.” The woman’s voice held a strange vibrancy.
“Are you the White Lady?” Laurel’s voice was very small. She was pretty sure she already knew the answer to this one.
The woman didn’t answer immediately. Stray beams of sunlight flickered in her bright blond hair; a halo of golden light surrounded her. Fear blossomed in the pit of Laurel’s stomach. Maybe Mom’s stories are real. Maybe magic does exist in today’s world like Mom insists.
“I have comforted many people at this spring over the years, not one of them has ever had the courage to ask that simple question out loud.” The woman smiled. “So, as a reward for your forthrightness I will answer. Yes, I am the White Lady. Do you have a favor to ask of me?”
“A favor?” She hadn’t come to the spring to ask for anything. She only wanted to be alone.
“Most of those who come here come to ask for something, a lover, a husband, a child, or to bend others to their will.” The White Lady smiled as she spoke.
“Can you do that? It doesn’t seem right to ask for that kind of thing.”
“You speak with wisdom beyond your young years, little one.” The White Lady’s laughter ignited sparkles in the sunlit shadows. “What is it you would ask, if you could?”
Do I dare ask? What will it cost me to have my wish granted? In all the fairy tales, there was always a price to be paid for favors given, usually a pretty high one. Still, I don’t care what the cost is as long as my wish comes true.
“I want my mom to get better. She has cancer, and she’s really sick. She can’t die. I need her. That’s what I want, my mom to be healthy again,” Laurel said quickly, before she lost her courage.
“It is not a small thing you ask,” the White Lady said thoughtfully. “The decision is not entirely in my hands. Freedom of choice and free will hang in the balance as do the scales of Light and Darkness. Let me consider this for a moment.”