A little history to the “Origins”

It was a cold bleak afternoon walking my youngest son back from playgroup with my wife. As we walked through the local woods that used to lead us home to our old house we were all startled by a strange barking/noise from deep in the woods. Immediately T (youngest son) asked me “what was that daddy?”

Well like any normal parent I stopped in my tracks and listened for a moment, I was pretty sure I knew what it was (more than likely a fox or dog). As I listened closer I peeked down to see how hung on my words my son was. With his little toddler face he was staring at me like I was the most important person, that what I had to say would explain everything and make him feel safe.

So I did the one true parent thing……I lied!

In the heat of that moment, and because I have always been one for trying to make the normal world a little more fun and exciting I told him what it was. “That sounded just like a Magdon” I said with confidence and so the fable was born.

A throwaway comment, a silly word made up from the idea that if was a MAN with his DOG (swap the last letters of the two words and you get MAGDON).

I thought it would end there! How wrong was I.

Questions came pouring in, especially when A (my eldest) found out about this strange monster making noises in the woods.

What does it look like?
Where does it come from?
Why was it there?
What does it do?
How do you know about them?

My silly little lie was spiralling out of control and soon I was answering the questions with such gusto and confidence that I probably started to believe it. I’m not going to give away the answers to all of those questions as it would spoil the story I am trying to tell and the history I am trying to create.

Needless to say a little white lie became more and more elaborate until Magdon was all they would talk about, much to annoyance of my poor poor wife! I cemented the look, even created a noise I would make outside their bedroom door if they were messing around into the night. I told them that the Magdon was linked to our family and that only very select and very brave people could ever slay the beast.

And so Archibal or “Archy” as he likes to be called was born. My great-grandfather born in Nottingham but an explorer who charted the globe in search of the Magdon and who finally gets to face one of these creatures.

2015-09-12 07.57.40
A daring adventure cracking clues and following maps to find Athena and Theokoles, christening the boys as true Feng-Hi (aka Magdon Hunters)

It became so real to them that I created a diary that one of Archy’s friends sent me from Indian when they found out I was related to him. This contained maps, notes and little bits of history that I printed onto the pages and together we would read them. One day we deciphered one of the maps and who would know it but it was local to our home town. One rainy morning the three of us braved the weather and followed the little clues, riddles and the map until we found ourselves in a graveyard. The boys were a little scared as I had told them about the protectors of Magdons so we gingerly explored until we found something.

Two swords etched with their initials, swords with names that meant they were true Magdon Hunters (or Feng-Hi as they are truly known). A found Athena Goddess of War and T found Theokolese Shadow of Death (sorry for the Spartacus rip but at the time I wasn’t worrying that the names would actually come to anything as they were just stories for my boys).

Well the treasure hunt caught the attention of some other parents and they applauded the creativity of it. The boys would not stop talking about the Magdon and the things I had been telling them, so much so that teachers would ask me what it was. Hastily I would explain my boys aren’t mad, only I am but I’m sharing it with them!

My wife insisted that I disguise some real facts amongst the intricate story to make it less a total “waste of their time” but secretly teach them things along the way. So it was I embeded Archy into history and brought the Magdon home to the local area, tweaking history to fit my little creation. I admit she was right seeing as the Magdon was stealing so much of the boy’s attention and time!

It became one of those things that eventually one of the pre-school teachers said I should write it down. They knew I had just started publishing Footprints On The Other Side and said my flair for making the Magdon story up had engrossed the boys so much that I ought to write it down.

And so we arrive here. With some very patient support from my wife and encouragement from friends, oh and of course the undying belief that Archy and the Magdon are real from the boys, I have finally started to write down a series that they can read as they get older. The story has developed so much that writing it is easy – I have really lived this imagined world for the last three years now so really in some way it is real to me.

So that is the justification for Origins Of The Magdon. I’m pricing it cheap as it’s a short book, 10,000-12,000 words so I can pitch it to a new audience aswell as children and adults. With hopeful support from a local publisher/author I may be able to spread this story to readers who suffer dyslexia, after all I want this story to be enjoyed by everyone as much as it has entertained and amused me and my family. I want this to be something I hear children talking about with speculation and a modicum of belief.

After all, every myth started somewhere!


Exciting times

Whilst spending the day at a training event at work there were a few people on the day who have been following my exploits and attempts to delve into the writing world. I was asked how many copies of Footprints On The Other Side had sold and although I’ve hardly sold enough to rival Higgins, Rowlings, Childs or such like they still seemed quite impressed. which was encouraging. What was more encouraging was the fact I started talking about the new Magdon Series and quite a few heads started to turn.

I was asked directly by one person about the age range of the series and that was difficult. Although my boys (five and seven) appreciate and enjoy the story I think in reality the story is probably most accessible by 10 and over, anything less and it requires reading to them and it is also a little scary so that really depends on the child in my opinion – perhaps I’m just a mean dad that makes up stories that are scary for my kids!

On the plus side the feedback I have been getting by a small group of testers has been positive. Thankfully a few minor errors have been spotted which I have no doubt spotted myself in yet another full re-read and edit. The book also remains with the editor of a local publishing house awaiting feedback. I only hope that in that respect no news is good news and I won’t get a Bridget Jones style “oh why did you bother, you are quite silly” type response.

2016-05-12 18.34.02.jpg
Please forgive the very poor sketches – they make sense to me!

No matter what the outcome, preferably the good outcome of course, I still intend to publish paperback copies of Volume One in the series and slowly pour out the remaining volumes over the next few years. I have the full story planned out and my little green ideas book is getting a little more on the pages with each day that passes.

This may only be a short entry but it is a reminder that things are progressing and soon enough you will ALL have the opportunity to meet the world I have created and lives in with my boys for ages…

Broadening and double hatting

Well since my last post I have completed and submitted the 10,488 length “short story” or novelette that is currently all under wraps title wise. It was submitted to a small local publishing house that deal with books written and produced for dyslexic readers which I felt would be a good avenue for spreading my story but also allow me to focus my story to a level that could also be appreciated by my children at the same time as helping others achieve an enjoyment from books and stories.

It has been submitted by the founder of the publishing house to their chief editor and I am taking no news as good news as it’s been a week and they’ve not sent me the obligatory “sorry but you needn’t have bothered” email. Always a good sign…..hopefully.

I have embraced the project so much that I have upgraded my rough notebook and gone and ordered two more of the infamous Italian Leather small journals I have liked to use for my bigger projects. Each book has a different coloured journal so I know where to write the ideas and already I’m pouring lots and lots of ideas into the pages which tells me the story is there for telling.

Forgive the purposeful blurring but some of the pages (well actually all of the pages) contain spoiler and the world isn’t quite ready for knowing everything! Not yet!

As for Whispering Shadows it continues to perplex me as I desperately try write a linking chapter that will tie across from an element introduced in Footprints On The Other Side but also bleed into the story across Parts I and II in Whispering Shadows. The only issue is it sits aside from the main story but adds a lot to the background and momentum of things that happen behind the main story. Typically I have rewritten it half a dozen times now and still struggle to get everything across in a way I think moulds with the story and narrative.

In all honesty there are two or possibly three chapters left of Part I Whispering Shadows so once they are done it’ll be a full edit which means one month free of all Jack James reading, only idea collating and then to rad and edit what I have done. Of course that fits to give me time to start on the next part of the Origins Of The Magdon Series.

As for Origins Series I foresee there being a minimum of FIVE instalments in this part of the series which will chart across the globe and hopefully provide a lot of mythology and entertainment for my audience.

In all honesty it is very nice to write the Magdon stories in a way I know the children will enjoy and hopefully allow other children to appreciate the little world that I have made for my kids and let them enjoy and help me develop. My middle son enjoys the whole affair so much we were walking home the other day from Beavers and he suggested something that I ran with and by the time we got home I had developed a whole new character and sub-plot that he instantly bonded with when I told him it. The fact that he enters the stories with such passion gives me the motivation to believe that what I am writing therefore is on the right level.

The biggest challenge will be merging the world I have centred around my children to make the whole story feel real but also keep it independent enough so they can enjoy it when they read it. For that part if I go beyond the Origins aspect it will bring it to the modern time and to the adventures “technically” of my boys so some artistic camouflage will be put in place. True to the word of the story though I have had to keep some aspects of names but avoided overuse to keep any friends of the boys who read it to be clear that the family names really don’t matter too much!

So really it’s an update to say I’m still here and still furiously pouring my crazed ideas into hopefully what will be a load of coherent books for a new audience and continue the story for those that have invested and want to see where Jack James is going.

I’m not giving up! I’m in this for the long haul.