Jamaica Observer Bookends Children of the Spider, Musical Youth

Bookends, the Jamaica Observer literary supplement has always been kind to me. You can see previous coverage of my writing and books on my media page. Give thanks. I am delighted to be featured, this time around for Child Month, with an excerpt from Musical Youth, published alongside the newest winning book to emerge from the Burt Award contest to unearth new teen/young adult literature (this book, incidentally, won the Burt prize the year I served as a judge; my own book Musical Youth was runner-up for the prize the previous year).


“In the land of the Spider gods, a
girl counted the stars and waited.
The hillside where she crouched
was exposed to the eyes of the
enemy, with just a few mossy and
pungent boulders for cover, but
their heads bent in prayer around
the fountain below, the men never
looked up from under their hoods.
They lit flambeaus and put them
out again in an order only they
understood. Seven of the Brothers
wore black robes. The eighth
wore red and carried a spear.
In the land of her mother’s
grave and her father’s memory, a
girl waited.”

Hmmm, a girl is giving me Aria Stark vibes. In all seriousness though, that isn’t that far off; Children of the Spider is a fantasy with a young girl’s heroic and complicated journey and loss at its centre; she makes alliances along the way and encounters the most unlikely mythical creatures, danger at her heels the entire time. The only difference between this and other books in the genre, typically, is that this one is set in Guyana, drawing on the location to add something fresh to this popular sub-category. If the teen/young adult in your life likes adventure and fantasy, they’ll like this, I believe.

‘At the last lick of her pick, she opened her watery eyes
to find his face inches from hers. She hadn’t heard or
felt him come closer. Thinking he might kiss her then,
she held her breath; but he merely smiled.
“How you feel?”
She searched her heart.
“Happy,” she said.
Her fingers were still tingling, and the electricity of it
travelled up the rest of her body until she felt like she
had to move, or scratch, or dance or something. She
leaned forward and kissed him. And just like that the
spell was broken.’

Shaka and Zahara are wrapped up in the world of music and each other, their friendships and the summer musical production that will change both their lives. I wanted to create something that spoke to that time in your life when you’re just beginning to figure things out about your self and your friendships are the all-consuming relationships of your life. We’ve all lived that time and I drew on my own memories (and my teenage niece’s frank feedback) in connecting with these millennial 2.0 kids. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really enjoyed hanging out with these kids and I know I (and, fingers crossed, your teen) haven’t seen the last of them.

Here’s the link to the Jamaica Observer Bookends May 2016 spotlighting both Children of the Spider and Musical Youth. Thanks to Ms. Sharon Leach for inviting me to submit. Hope you enjoy but not only that. Hope you support the authors, share the link, buy the books, encourage others to buy the book, suggest your libraries and schools add them to their stacks or reading lists, do what you can to make the teen/young adult readers these books are targeting reach their target. Support the literary arts.

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