I’m so pleased that Brian Anderson has agreed to stop by as a guest on Inquisitive Hippo during his blog tour. Please be sure to check out his exciting Godling Chronicles (details available at the bottom of this post).
When I began writing The Godling Chronicles, I intended it to be nothing more than a fun story someone could use to escape their daily drudgery for a few hours. I was under no illusion that it was a life-changing piece of literature, with deep underlying symbolism, meant to challenge a reader’s innermost thoughts and convictions. But to my absolute amazement, something wonderful happened that I could have never predicted. This is best told by the person directly affected, so the following is an excerpt from a letter I received from a foster mum in the UK. It has been an inspiration for me, and is one of the driving forces behind this series.
When I became a foster Mum, I continued the trend of reading to the kids at bedtime. I stuck firmly to authors I knew and trusted – old fashioned authors who were ‘safe’, as I had come across books for pre-teens which had very unsuitable content for children who were coming to terms with hormones. The media, and books, can and do influence children, and childhood isn’t something to be rushed through, where 11 year olds compete for ‘boyfriends’ and ‘girlfriends’. This is especially important for vulnerable children who are in care, and NEED to feel valued and loved, and often become magnets for grooming by unsavory people.
My child, K, came to me in September 2005, age 9, small – very small for her age, as a ‘short term’ placement while the various agencies tried to find a suitable ‘therapeutic’ center to place “K” in. She had been in care since the age of 8 months, and was born with special needs enhanced by genetic problems. She was autistic spectrum, with Microcephaly, and several other conditions. She had, as many long term foster children do, a condition called ‘Attachment Disorder’, where they couldn’t ‘attach’ emotionally to their birth parent due to different factors – mainly involving neglect. With “K”, it was enhanced by being ‘let down’ by so many caregivers, and her special needs, which meant she couldn’t understand – and she resorted to spectacular toddler tantrums when she couldn’t make sense of the world.
“K” was moved from foster carer to foster carer, averaging a 9 month stay with each, though the older she got, the faster these places broke down. She was prone to rages – extremely violent rages – which were difficult for people to cope with, especially if they had other children in their homes. K was a danger to herself, and to others. (I’ve been stabbed by her and had my nose broken by her, though this is only to give YOU an idea of how difficult it’s been at times).
I was asked to keep her until the agencies found a ‘unit’ that could cope with “K”. From that first night, when she went to bed, I read to her. I don’t think she’d ever had an adult read to her at bedtime.
She enjoyed being read to, but had a very short attention span, and the old favorite stories I had used for over 3 decades didn’t engage her attention for more than 8 minutes, until I found a series of books that had an antihero boy, who caused mayhem – a bit like “K” herself. These she would listen to for 30 minutes – the length of the books, basically, which had its plus and minus points. The stories engaged her attention, but she would emulate the behaviors of the antihero.
Months passed, and then years passed, and it seemed Social Workers had given up on their search for a unit for “K”, or perhaps I didn’t kick up too much of a fuss and ask for her to be moved. So, I stuck with K, and she stuck with me, and eventually we found a Special Needs school that wouldn’t exclude her within a few weeks for unmanageable behavior – and life carried on with Horrid Henry, the antihero in the books, and Carnaptious “K” – my foster daughter. She became less violent after the 4th year, but still spent a lot of time in seclusion at her Special Needs School. We tried to wean her off HH books, but nothing else would work at bedtimes – “K” would pull the blankets over her head, and disengage – and after several attempts, I would give in, and continue with them. If “K” went to sleep content, I could lose myself in books to relax. “K” is quite an intense child to live with.
One of my birth children told me about Brian’s ‘The Godling Chronicles’. We always recommend books to each other if we find a particularly good one. I downloaded it onto my kindle, and didn’t sleep until I finished it. The following week, I took “K” to a holiday camp during summer holidays, and at bedtime, disaster – I forgot to take HH books with me. It was with desperation that I started reading ‘The Godling Chronicles’ The Sword of Truth to “K”. I knew it was a ‘safe’ book, where I wouldn’t need to ‘read ahead’ of my talking, as there were no profanities, and no sex – very important in for a child who emulates her ‘story friends’. The first couple of nights weren’t a great success, but reading to her is part of her routine, which is very important to a child who also has autistic spectrum problems.
The 4th night was amazing. A heroine came into the story, by the name of Kaylia, and my little girl, by now 15 years old, instantly responded to Kaylia’s name, mishearing it, and thinking it was HER name. “K” would listen to Horrid Henry stories, never commenting, and would lay, staring at the walls until she’d drift off to sleep without speaking to me when I closed the book for the night. She interrupted me to say ‘that’s my name’. I didn’t correct her, as admittedly I was a bit surprised, and she told me to re-read the passage.
I did, but changed Kaylia’s name to “K’s” name, and she turned round, and WATCHED me reading to her – another first. She interrupted several times to get explanations, when she couldn’t connect points in the story within her head, but then she’d demand I start reading again. That night I had difficulties giving the character’s distinct ‘voices’, as over an hour passed, and my voice was suffering.
“K” was hooked, and asked me to read some more next morning – but that was too out of routine, and she was told to wait until bedtime – which she was so desperate to reach that she changed into her pajamas at 7pm, and hung around watching the clock for 8.30pm.
I was happy – we’d moved on from Horrid Henry, which I did offer to read to her when we finished The Sword of Truth, but she wanted me to read it again, from the beginning. Fortunately the 2nd book, Of Gods and Elves, came out not too long after, and after pulling another all nighter to read it started reading it as “K’s” bedtime story. Normally she doesn’t take to change too well, but this time, she was desperate to know Kaylia’s outcome, so there were no problems – until the book was finished, and re-read, and now I’m almost 80% through book one again.
These books have made such a huge change to “K” that I told her social workers. “K’s” school has remarked how she appears to be ‘maturing’, without so many outburst this term, and she floats around school HELPING lesser able bodied children – she appears to be taking on a ‘protector/nurturer’ role now, instead of being the aggressor. She understands that Gewey and Kaylia get into fights, but only to ‘look after each other, and other people’. She also is getting an idea that when people don’t agree, they can ‘work it out by talking’ instead of trying to pull someone’s head off.
I know The Godling Chronicles are not suitable for very young children, but for children who have that ability to listen, and possibly envision stories with excitement (in the best possible way), The Godling Chronicles very well might be a blessing.
Too many books now, including those for ages 9 and up, encourage children to explore things which their bodies, and minds, are not mature enough to cope with. Certainly the special needs children we work with, all who are extremely vulnerable, need stories that promote POSITIVE images, without trying to sexualize them at too young an age. Brian’s book is now included on our group’s newly qualified foster parents kindles, along with the usual fairy stories, magic stories, pet stories, through to current trending stories for young teens.
Darkness comes as a new power rises in Angrääl. The Dark Knight has betrayed the Gods and stolen The Sword of Truth, trapping them in heaven. With the power of the Sword he can reshape the world and bring death to all who oppose him. Only one thing stands between the darkness and the light. Gewey Stedding. Only he has the power to stand against the oncoming storm. Only he can mend the world. But only if he can discover his power….
Armies gather for war in the frozen land of Angrääl threatening to set the world ablaze. The elves are divided and scattered and humans fall prey to the dark influence of the Reborn King. Now, Gewey is faced with his greatest challenge yet. Unite the world of elf and human before it is too late…
(release date 3/14/13) Valshara has fallen, and the forces of Angrääl are advancing. For the first time, human and elf must shed blood as one, in order to stem the tide of evil. But new hope has arisen. From across the Western Abyss, a people long forgotten have returned. However, hope comes at its own price. Gewey must choose between his bond of love, and his duty to the world he is struggling to save.