Last night at Words and Music in Glasgow I read an extract of my latest young adult fantasy, Jack Janson and the Storm Caller to the group.
Here, Jack has just been introduced to the giant Winfred Storm Caller and he and his gran are in Winfred’s cave.
Jack stood in awe at the sight before him and had a thousand questions running through his head, ‘maybe ten thousand,’ he mused. He scanned the cave with great intensity, looking at all of the corners and shelves cut into the rock.
Turning, he took his first proper look at the giant. He must have been twenty feet tall with a large round head, soft wispy brown hair and piercing green eyes. His neck was thicker than a barrel and the veins stood out like iron bars. His thin cotton shirt fell over his chest, gaping enough for Jack to see his firm muscular features. But the thing that he stared at the most were his huge tree trunk legs sticking out from beneath his shorts and his arms as thick as girders. This fella could life a mountain.
From the corner of his eye he saw something and made another connection with something that happened recently. Realising he was staring, he blurted out, “The lantern!” his shrill voice echoed from the cave walls. “The other night in the storm, it was you waving that lantern back and forth,” Jack pointed to a lantern in the corner of the cave.
“By boom Tom tum it were me, save shippy ships from big rocky rocks in the sea,” Winfred smiled back.
“And why is the cave lit up like the daylight outside when there are no doors or windows?”
Jack saw Winfred shoot a look at Gran and he noticed her small but perceptible nod in return.
“Be giant magic Jack Janson, by boom Tom tum it be.”
“And the fire over there. I see it burning bright but I don’t see a chimney for the smoke to go up. We should be choking on smoke but the air is clean and fresh,” he pointed to the large fire cut into the middle of the cave wall.
“Clever be, Jack Janson, by boom Tom tum he be. Things work by giant magic, so they do. No smoky smoke in Winfred’s home, by boom Tom tum no.”
“Giant magic, like wow!” Jack stood in awe and looked across at Gran who was smiling at him.
“This tops everything Gran, it really does.”
The whistling of a kettle on the fire broke the moment.
“Boom Tom tum. Manners?” the giant exclaimed. “Tea My Lady and little Jack have.”
“I’m not little, I’m quite tall for my age,” Jack chuckled, realising the irony of his statement.
“Be Jack Truth Sayer now it be. By boom Tom tum it will.” Winfred bowed to Jack and reached for some battered metal mugs on a shelf at the back of the cave.
“Winfred, I’m puzzled by something. Well, many things actually. But the biggest of them is this, how come no one else knows you are here? You live in a cave, have a big fire and if I may say so, you are rather large. Surely someone else would have discovered you or your home by now?”
Winfred shot another glance at Jean who shook her head back.
“Question good be. By boom Tom tum it be.”
“You seem to be forgetting that I know he’s here.”
“I got that one real quick, Gran. But you know, I doubt many others do, otherwise he would be big news, very big news. It intrigues me.”
Jack smiled knowing that he had pulled out a really good question. The one thing he knew for sure is that SJ would not believe it until Winfred stood there in front of her. No sir, she wouldn’t.
“Then, if Gran is the only one who knows, why has she brought me here to meet you?” Jack asked.
He noticed her facial expression change for a split second. Another thought ran through him like a lightning bolt making him blush and get angry. He had to ask that question, even though he wasn’t sure if he wanted to know the answer. He just had to ask it.
Summoning all of his courage, he turned to face her.
“Gran, are you dying?”
He tried to keep his composure, but the facade was cracking real fast.
Winfred leapt up at frightening speed, his booming voice causing the rock walls to shake and send sand and bits of rock tumbling from the roof again.
“NO! By boom Tom tum NO!” he bellowed.
Jack had to cover his ears with his hands.
Winfred knelt down to be at the same level as his gran and with surprising tenderness he stroked her arm.
“Not so be,” he sniffed.
Cupping her hands over her face, she leant forward and sobbed.
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