It's lovely when you receive a letter from someone who's enjoyed your book. But a little more unusual when you get a letter from the characters themselves!
The other day I was curious when the postman delivered a brown padded envelope, and even more curious to find a hand written letter on a kind of scroll, and something wrapped in a piece of black material and tied with a black ribbon.
A cursory glance at the letter had me noticing the words Cross of Aes Dana – which, if you've read my YA time slip book, Celeste you'll know is a magical pendant that my character Megan (alias Celeste) has to guard with her life, as it possesses the power of eternal life.
I instantly thought it was from one of the teenagers I'd spoken to at their school recently – until I saw the letter was signed by Megan, Freya and Jamie.
That trio of names rang a bell – my characters in the book!
They explained that they'd retrieved the Cross of Aes Dana for me, and wanted to say 'thank you' to me for creating them!
Carefully, with growing excitement I untied the package. I could not believe my eyes. There nestled on this piece of black felt was the actual Cross of Aes Dana. It had been just a figment of my imagination (although the tribe did exist a long, long time ago) but there was the pendant I'd created only in words, before my very eyes!
It had the look of age, it had the gemstones, it had the feel...
A pendant cast in iron and inset with gemstones. It was
no bigger than a man's thumb and formed the shape of a cross.
In the centre was a garnet, blood red and a powerful protective force.
Inset along the four lengths were honey brown amber crystals and
jasper with layers of red, brown, and white — again for protection.
At the four tips of the cross were four small hematite stones with
their opaque red sheen that merged against the grey of the iron in
which they were set. Truly a fearsomely powerful mix.
I held it tightly, just as Megan had done…
As sleep took over, Megan tried to let her mind drift, to let
the memories flow back. If she could only make sense of all this,
she would be glad to remember everything. But nothing became
any clearer. Eventually as she was drifting halfway between sleep
and semi‐consciousness the image of a face formed in her mind — a
woman's face — like before.
She looked about thirty with dark brown plaited hair. Her
eyes sparkled at first as she mouthed incoherent words, but then
dimmed, and became wreathed in sadness as she faded away.
Megan tried to call her back, to ask what she had said. She
couldn't make out the words. It was so far back... so long ago.
Tossing and turning, murmuring in her sleep, Megan rolled
over and slept deeply. The face drifted back, closer, as if she were
leaning over Megan as she slept. And then she pressed something
into Megan's hand before fading away.
Megan felt the warm angular metal of a cross against her
skin, and smooth gemstones set within the iron, and the thin chain
that enabled it to be worn around the neck.
In her sleep Megan's fingers touched the pouch she wore
around her own throat. It contained a fusion of herbs to keep away
the plague — at least that's what the elders said, and who was she
Her fingers tightened around the object in her hand. The
cross was heavy, made of iron — a burden in so many ways...
She slept on unconsciously checking the cross was still there
throughout the night, clasping it tightly in her hand.
Only as she started to wake did she feel it slipping away.
Desperately she tried to hang onto it but as consciousness took
over, so the cross slipped back into the unreal world of her dreams.
Her bedside lamp was still on and she uncoiled her clenched
hand and stared at it, half expecting to see the imprint of the cross
in her skin.
But there was nothing. Just marks of her fingernails in her
palms. She felt for the pouch of herbs around her throat. But of
course they, like the cross were simply the imaginations of a dream.
Or fragmented memories of a life she had lived long, long
I discovered who had taken the trouble to bring my story to life. A lovely lady called Val Hunt. Val is a fabulous award-winning sculptor who uses recycled materials - particularly drinks can metal, to create stunning works of art. I've written about Val's work a few times for magazines, but I never expected this!
Please do take a look at Val's work. She is such a talented lady. Thank you, Val!
And if anyone would like to read more of Celeste, it's available in paperback and as an ebook.
View the trailer at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFDBEt9o3Fw
My website is: http://www.annevansbooks.co.uk
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