Meet Lexi Rees, a fellow member of Chindi Authors – a group that I’m proud to belong to.
Lexi’s latest children’s book was published yesterday: Wild Sky (I love the title – it intrigues me before I start reading). As some of my five grandchildren are rapidly approaching Key Stage 2 (7 to 12 years), I’ve started to look out for new reading ideas for them. I still love the old classics, but things move on, don’t they? Listen in to our chat over coffee and cake (without lashings and lashings of ginger beer.)
Thanks so much Angela for inviting me onto your blog to chat about writing, and more specifically, the process of fictionalising locations.
When I do author talks, I’m always asked about the locations in my books. The Relic Hunters series is basically an introduction to dystopian fiction for young readers which means that whilst the basic world is recognisable, I’m in a position where I can take some artistic license. Also, because the series is essentially a quest story, I have a lot of locations. The journey in book one, Eternal Seas, moves from a tropical island, through bustling bazaars and culminates in a ruined castle on a remote Scottish island. The sequel – Wild Sky, published on 28 November 2019, sees the young adventurers leave the Scottish island and head for a monastery in the Himalayas. Given the huge variety, I find it very helpful to have a real place in mind when I set a scene. I’m lucky to have lived overseas and also backpacked around the world (admittedly when I was quite a bit younger), so I have a large pool of personal experiences of locations to use.
As we are both members of a Chichester writing group, Chindi Authors, let’s take a deeper look at a local spot that I’ve featured. The Relic Hunters get a clue that means they need to find an observatory to look at the stars on the Cold Moon (the last full moon of the year). I chose to base this scene at Spitbank Fort, a former military stronghold in the middle of the English Channel near Portsmouth. This is perfect since the characters are smugglers who live on a boat, plus I’ve sailed round it many times myself and been intrigued by the lack of a pontoon to tie up on – there appears to be no more than a few iron railings, which obviously just adds to the appeal to a writer looking for a quirky setting.
Spitbank Fort was built between 1865 and 1880, along with three other forts (the Palmerstone forts) at a total cost of £1,177,805. Obviously by the time they were finished the threat of invasion had gone so although the forts were armed, they were never used in battle. They were decommissioned in 1956 and put up for sale the 1960s, although they were not sold until the 1980s. Had I won the lottery, I would have LOVED to buy one! Actually, I would still love to live in one. Either that or a lighthouse. That would be awesome, although I appreciate Tesco’s might not deliver my groceries.
It’s actually now a luxury hotel – you can check here but I have used none of the interior. I had to have a domed observatory. The forts are currently up for sale. I gather the price is £8 million, but sadly I’m still waiting for that lottery win.
Anyway, back to the writing. Of course, given the diameter is only 50 metres, it’s not really enough for my required location. I needed to have my baddie set up a camp there and build an observatory, so the interior is entirely inaccurate. I plead artistic license!
I hope that was interesting. Happy to answer any questions!
And thanks again Angela for inviting me to join you.
You’re very welcome. That fort reminds me of pirate radio stations, or a modern-day Famous Five adventure destination, or a fortress to fight for, or a ghostly story, or… I can see why you picked it for a location. Being a writer is an excuse to imagine a whole load of adventures, isn’t it?
If you’re looking for stocking fillers for youngsters in your lives, this would make an ideal gift. Another ticked off.
STOP PRESS: To celebrate publication of her new book, Lexi has a giveaway for you: a chance to win a copy of Eternal Seas and Wild Sky, both action packed fantasies for 7 – 11 year olds. (UK – choice of signed paperback or ebooks). (International entrants – e books only).
ONLY AVAILABLE FROM 24th November – 19th December. So – hurry!
Wild Sky Book blurb:
‘This action-packed blend of magical fantasy with classic kids adventuring is a swashbuckling read for 8+ year-olds, peppered with soft line-drawings and propelled by a strong sense of urgency.’ – LoveReading4Kids
‘Non-stop adventure with an exciting blend of magic and dystopia. Sinister villains, strange magic and thrilling adventure. I loved it!’ – Claire Fayers, author of The Accidental Pirates series, Mirror Magic and Storm Hound
‘Raging seas, snowy lands, fortresses and monasteries – the quest for the relics continues at an exhilarating pace. You won’t put it down!’ – Jude Lennon, author of the Hal series and other books
After delivering the pearl, Finn and Aria thought life would return to normal.
But with the survival of the clans still in peril, they must continue their quest.
Can they find the next relic before the forces of evil?
Not everyone is who they appear to be
And time is running out …
Lexi Rees was born in Scotland but now lives down south. She writes action-packed adventures and workbooks for children.
The Relic Hunters #1, Eternal Seas, was awarded a “loved by” badge from LoveReading4Kids and is currently long-listed for a Chanticleer award. The sequel, Wild Sky, is available for pre-order now.
She’s passionate about developing a love of reading and writing in children and, as well as her Creative Writing Skills workbook, she has an active programme of school visits and other events, is a Book PenPal for three primary schools, and runs a free online #kidsclub and newsletter which includes book recommendations and creative writing activities.
In her spare time, she’s a keen crafter and spends a considerable amount of time trying not to fall off horses or boats.