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About the story ...
Stonewylde is an alternative community, hidden away in the heart of Dorset and ruled by the charismatic Magus. It's a place of standing stones and earth energy – a place where the old ways are remembered. Within a great stone circle the eight pagan festivals are celebrated and ancient rites performed. The thirteen full moons are honoured and the people live natural and uncomplicated lives, as their ancestors have done for hundreds of years.
But all is not quite as it seems. There's another side to Stonewylde; a darker side where cruelty is rife. There's a more sinister purpose behind the rituals held in the Stone Circle than simply honouring the Earth Goddess and the elements of nature. Sylvie and her mother are invited into the community, victims of modern life. Suffering from the stresses of inner city life, they believe that by entering the enclosed world of Stonewylde, their troubles will be over. Magus promises them fulfilment; that they will lack for nothing. He promises to heal them and care for them, calling on the green magic that pervades everything at Stonewylde. But one boy alone understands the true reason for their invitation, and what malevolence their arrival has triggered.
As the series unfolds, the struggle between Yul and his master becomes more brutal and the stakes are raised. Sylvie is in terrible danger as an old prophecy is revealed and the pieces of the puzzle start to slide into place. Sylvie and Yul must battle not only to save themselves, but the very heart of Stonewylde.
Read more details of the first book in the series, Magus of Stonewylde here>>>.
About the books ...
There are five books in the Stonewylde Series. The first three books in the series were originally self-published, and have gained a huge following amongst fans. Word of mouth has spread and there are now readers all over the world. The series was originally intended for young adults but is read by people of all ages - everyone enjoys a good story!
After the three self-published books proved to be so successful, the worldwide rights were bought by Orion Books, and have been revised, rejacketed and re-published by their imprint Gollancz. Any unsold old editions have been removed from sale - so if you have one, hold on to it!
Although the series is now being published by Gollancz, famous publishers of fantasy and science fiction, Stonewylde doesn't truly sit in either of these categories. There are some elements of fantasy in the books, but they are also romantic novels, and describe contemporary life in modern England, albeit in an enclosed community. There are many reviews on Amazon which will give you a flavour of the addictiveness of the series. The appeal of Stonewylde and the unfolding story seems to run very deep, perhaps tapping into a universal desire to live more in harmony with nature, and resonating with our love of myth and magic.
About the Stonewylde phenomenon ...
Stonewylde was originally going to be one book for young adults, a simple story about a girl who gets caught up in a weird place in Dorset where someone is out to exploit her. Somewhere along the line, the book grew into a trilogy and the whole emphasis of the story changed, becoming far deeper and darker and dealing with many archetypal struggles and issues. Then my son suggested extending the trilogy to a fourth book as he felt there were unanswered questions, but this wouldn't have been enough to complete the story. So there will be five books in all, but then that's definitely the end.
Self-publishing is very difficult - not to produce the actual books themselves, but to sell them. It has a bad reputation because anyone can write anything and put it out there. The hardest part was persuading book shops to stock a self-published novel by an unknown author that didn't comfortably sit in any one genre. Perhaps because of this, the initial readership of Magus of Stonewylde were a very mixed bunch - mostly people who liked the look of the standing stones on the front cover. The original covers were created by a top designer, Rob Walster, of Big Blu Design in Bristol - he took pity on us and gave us professional book jackets at a very reduced rate. Once Mr B, my husband had created a website, I began to receive fan-mail. Apart from enjoying the book, I think many people liked the fact that this was a home-grown venture and they wanted to support us. Sales began to rise as word of mouth worked its magic.
We were lucky to engage the services of a distributor, Counter Culture, (sadly no longer in business) who put the books into many alternative shops. Then we were taken on by the two biggest distributors/wholesalers, Gardners and Bertams, and Stonewylde began to appear in many mainstream bookshops and also Waterstones and Borders, and many online bookshops too. Such was the response from the fans that we decided to go ahead and publish the second, and then third books in the series. Mr B created a social network forum for fans to join, where they could discuss the books and anything else that interested them. I started to send out a newsletter at each of the eight pagan festivals, telling readers about where I'd be doing book-signings and talks. And so it grew ...
Today, there are thousands of Stonewylde fans, many of whom belong to our social network. They meet up, in local groups or every so often, in a big national get-together. We have members from all over the world and the topics are now far-ranging. Many asked for a Stonewylde T-shirt, and we've now produced several limited edition versions, along with greetings cards that show the Wheel of the Year. We've recently, by popular request, made Stonewylde button badges, eco-bags and car window stickers, and soon we'll be launching a beautiful range of pewter pendants, inspired by the ones used at Stonewylde. We've registered Stonewylde as a trade-mark and depending on requests, may extend the range of Stonewylde gifts available (ideas are always welcome!).
Many readers have said what marvellous films the books would make, and my agent is planning to pursue this further in the future. In fact one of the favourite threads on our Stonewylde forum is "Who'd play Magus?". And of course everyone wants to be an extra in the Stonewylde films!
This strange Stonewylde phenomenon isn't something I'd ever envisaged when I first dreamt up the idea of a magical girl becoming entangled within a strange community behind high boundary walls. I'd never imagined the sheer enthusiasm and loyalty of my readers, and how they'd become so completely hooked on Stonewylde. In this way, the books have changed many people's lives for the better, because real friendships (and a couple of romances) have been formed on the network. So many fans have written to me to say how Stonewylde reminded them of the things that matter in life, and brought them back to their real place in the world, reconnecting them with nature and bringing the beauty of the earth and the seasons closer again.
So if you're new to this, you'll probably be wondering by now what on earth you're getting yourself into. And you're right to wonder - be very careful, because for all of us, Stonewylde is totally addictive.