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Friday, 6 February 2015

The Story of Celeste


Megan Miller doesn't believe in ghosts or in reincarnation. But that soon changes after moving to a new city and a new school. 

It starts with feelings of déjà vu. Vague feelings at first that remain annoyingly just out of reach. Then the flashbacks start – memories of ancient times and fragmented dreams of when she had been called Celeste. 

And then the haunting begins. After visiting the ruins of the old cathedral, Megan believes some dark ominous presence is haunting her, following her, whispering in her ear. And always the same question, where did you hide it?

Megan becomes entwined in a frightening and heartbreaking world as she slips uncontrollably between her present life and her medieval past. But the links are fiercely strong and she fears that a new friend is actually a past enemy – and evil has followed her through the centuries.

The idea for my YA novel, Celeste was first sparked when I was writing an article about Coventry's oldest church, St Mary Magdeline's in Wyken, Coventry. This ancient church which is still in regular use, dates back to the 12th Century and was built by the 4th Earl of Chester, Ranulf de Gernon (1099-1153).  

St Mary Magdalene's Church

As I wandered around the ancient gravestones and paused by the lepers window imagining those unfortunates receiving the Holy Eucharist through the small window in the stonework, I found myself drifting back in time, and a story began to formulate in my head.  

My original hero was going to be Ranulf, and my heroine was to be a young woman who hears echoes from the past when she visits the old church and hears him calling her name.

I even had the title – At the Bend in the River. However the story was stop/start for many years. It finally began to take shape when I took the main action away from the little church and centred it around Coventry's City Centre with its old and new cathedrals and the cobbled streets. 

My St Mary Magdeline's remained in the background, in the locality of where my heroine lives after moving to the city. Also I made her much younger. A 14 year old rather than an adult. I gave her a name, Megan Miller, Megan after my granddaughter, Miller because it hints at an old Medieval trade. 

Megan's family re-locate to the city, and the school she starts at, is my old Cardinal Wiseman Grammar School. The common where she walks – where she senses a sinister presence that whispers in her ear, is Wyken Croft. The story told itself to me as I walked my dogs around this area.
Ann and Lola
The small gemstoned cross that is at the heart of the story was a gift from the Gods. I can't remember when that formed in my head, I'm just grateful that it did! 

And the ghostly scene in Megan's bedroom when Friar Lucius – or rather his demonic spirit visits her in the dead of night through a dark shadow on the wall, was real! 

Just as you will read how Megan experiences this ghostly moment that terrifies her, it is actually based around a real incident from my childhood. It made quite an impact then and I'm glad I've finally been able to use it.

The Cathedral Spire, the 300 stone steps of the spiral staircase are also real. It's been some years since I climbed them, but the views through the slit windows as you go up, and then the view from the top would have been so different in Celeste's day.
Coventry's Lady Godiva, Pru Poretta
 As for Talitha, the hand-maid to Lady Godiva, she may have been real. I heard the name after a friend's granddaughter was christened Talitha. It sounds ancient, it suited the character. 

And Lady Godiva, well she is most definitely real – and an important figure in Coventry's history.  

Today the city has its very own Lady Godiva, Pru Poretta, an ambassador for Coventry. 

Maybe, after you've read Celeste, you will want to follow in her footsteps. I hope you do.

Here's a short extract from Celeste as she starts a new school in a new city, knowing no one.  
Megan scanned the sea of strangers. Boys and girls of her age, all staring at her, sizing her up, judging her, deciding whether she was friend or foe. One or two were whispering, others were smiling. 
And then one face. One face shone out from all the others, and Megan’s knees buckled with shock.
Oh there you are Ruth! Megan almost cried out in delight, a huge smile breaking out across her face. There you are! It's been so long since I saw you...  
The next second she halted herself. Stopped herself from falling over her own feet to reach the girl with short corn coloured hair and dark eyes. What on earth was she thinking about? Who on earth was she thinking about? She didn't know the girl! She didn't know anybody here. 
But just for one split second, she had such a feeling of recognition it left her trembling. 
Thank you, Freya,” Mrs Lovejoy put her hand lightly on Megan's arm, indicating for her to go and sit by the girl who had spoken – Freya.
Freya? Where on earth had she got the name Ruth from?  

                                                          * * *  
If you would like a pdf version of Celeste to read and review, I would be happy to send you one.  
Celeste is available as an ebook and in paperback from Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Amazon and other outlets. www.amazon.co.uk/Celeste-Ann-Evans-ebook/dp/B00KQ8XIGE
Have you read The Beast, The Reawakening and Rampage?  
Need tips on writing and getting published, my book Become a Writer – A step by step guide may be just the thing for you. Available in paperback and as an ebook. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Become-Writer-Step-Guide/dp/1907670246

My website: www.annevansbooks.co.uk