‘I have a secret to share. From the treehouse where I often work, there’s a great view of Radwinter Church and the land where I used to farm. If I’m lucky, whilst I’m scribbling away at a story, a grey wolf sometimes appears, roaming across the fields – large as life. As the wind stirs the leaves, he stops and looks up, as if he senses someone hiding in the branches. Then his amber eyes blink and I see him lift his nose to catch the scent and meaning of the words I’m writing …’
The wolf is Alpha, of course, the magical creature at the heart of The Mirror of Pharos. This introduction appeared in a north Essex magazine, coinciding with the book’s publication last month. A big thank you to Ambo for announcing his arrival. He is now at large and roaming far beyond the fields of Radwinter!
The book’s reception in recent weeks has been overwhelming. A reprint had to be ordered to make sure we had enough copies for Christmas and our fabulous local bookshop, Hart’s Books, part of the Daunt group, was packed to bursting point for the launch event. More than 90 attended, including children sent by their school librarian in readiness for a book club event in the New Year.
Alpha’s brooding amber eyes presided over everything, shining out from the book covers, from the enormous banner (several feet taller than its illustrator, Amanda Pike!) and even on the balloons. A week later, while signing more copies on a festive stall at Saffron Walden market, the blistering cold didn’t seem to matter. We could hear the name of the book being mentioned by shoppers up and down King Street. You could almost sense Alpha running in and out of the crowd, casting his spell.
A king himself, he has held a growing space in my imagination ever since I was seven years old. In an interview at Creative Walden, a project for young writers and film makers, I explained how he came into being and why I became a storyteller. (You can watch the full interview here.) He knows a secret or two about time itself and what it means to be a Magus. Now he’s taking a flying leap out of the old year and into the new. Where will he go next? Who will he meet, I wonder? Perhaps it will be you.
Ring out wild bells. Let the wind howl … Here’s to the year of the wolf.