It’s already been such a long time since my last update, but now, with the transition of the Solstice guiding me, I’ve found a moment to take stock.
Amid writing and shiftwork there have been many highlights of my autumn/winter, including:
- Returning the final proof edits for The Huntress: Sea (!)
- Attending the fifth annual Trust Women conference in London. As a delegate, I had the privilege of experiencing the unrivalled cutting edge in global women’s rights, actively tackling massive issues such as human trafficking (of which 75% of the victims are women), slavery (much more prevalent in our society than we may think) and radicalization. I was lucky enough to be representing a new charity called Childbirth Paths International – if you are interested in global maternal health, check out their work. I learned so much at Trust Women. One of the facts that really sticks with me is that worldwide, women still only own 20% of the land! I’ve learned to open my eyes to the wider, global picture, and I’m planning to become as well informed as I can about these issues.
- My first time in Mexico!!! I attended the most amazing creative writing for young people retreat that has ever taken place on a horse riding ranch (or anywhere, tbh.) The retreat was run by Lucy Christopher and Melvin Burgess at a beautiful ranch called Rancho Las Cascadas, named for the nearby waterfalls. After a grueling night flight, I was transported to a high-altitude world of cacti, creeping mist, vibrant colours, babbling streams, margaritas (the official course welcome included a lesson in making these!) gorgeous food and warm, kind people. Cue an unforgettable week of writing workshops, tutorials, horse riding and readings. We also travelled to the Teotihuacan pyramids (‘the place where the gods were created’), part of a sprawling archaeological complex which was once Mesoamerica’s greatest city, abandoned in the 7th century. After climbing the pyramids, the altitude made itself known when we all struggled to catch our breaths for much longer than normal. Below is a view of the Pyramid of the Moon taken from the the Pyramid of the Sun, where we watched religious ceremonies take place and did some writing.
But possibly THE most magical thing about the trip was bareback horse yoga. Yes. That is a Thing. And a wonderful thing it is, especially for little knots of anxious energy like me. After a day of battling with myself to ride a horse (after mine had stumbled a couple of times, plus it was a super moon and my emotions were leaping all over the place) I found myself launching onto a bareback, chestnut gelding called Calypso (who also turned out to be the stubbornest horse in the universe when it came to a cantering attempt, which is another story.) It should have been terrifying. But it was beautiful, thanks to Jenny (from the Rancho) Lucy and Maddy, a retreat classmate and fellow Bath Spa grad.
Within moments I was lying outstretched along the horse’s warm, solid back, staring up at an azure sky, somehow trusting the horse, and myself. My mind fell into a quietness that finally allowed me to breathe.
To wrap this up (Xmas pun?) other news is that the cover of The Huntress: Sea has been going through a few tweaks in light of key industry feedback and I should be able to reveal the changes soon – exciting! I can’t wait to share, because I love what the amazing team at Egmont are doing. They truly are incredible people to work with, and I am counting my blessings.
Aaaaaaand…I can now also officially announce that The Huntress will be sailing into new harbours in Italy and Germany, with Rizzoli and Carlsen Verlag publishers respectively. I’m so excited that The Huntress will soon be able to call these fantastic publishing houses her home away from home!
Merry Solstice, and may 2017 bring you all the magic you could wish for. I’ll check in again after the next adventure…in January I’ll be travelling on the Arctic Circle train from Stockholm to Kiruna, Swedish Lapland. All together now: BRRRRRRR!