Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Weather Child in her Natural Element By Philippa Ballantine

They call it the Windy City. It’s not Chicago, it’s much closer to the Antarctica than you think, and when it blows hard there you feel it right to the bone.

I guess the beginning of Weather Child was an image I saw of Wellington in the 1960s. It was a windy day (hardly unusual) but on this street, they had installed posts about waist high, with rope strung between them. This woman, laden with grocery bags was hanging onto this rope with all of her might, trying desperately to walk up the hill.

It was a perfect depiction of just how powerful those winds from the south can be, and immediately my imagination was going. What if a person could control that? What would it make them? What would it do to them?

As always with authors it is the ‘what ifs’ that are most exciting.

I was also excited to be writing about my homeland. I was born, raised, and lived most of my life in Wellington, New Zealand. It was only three years ago I moved to Virginia for love, but it will forever be part of me. It is the place my husband, and fellow writer, Tee Morris and I will be retiring to.

I wanted to show other people how wonderful, beautiful and yes…sometimes terrifying it can be there.

Wellington is at the bottom of the North Island of New Zealand. It is a harbour town with lots of hills. In fact the only flat land has been reclaimed from the sea, or is in the valley with the Hutt river running through it. They have a saying for Wellington, ‘you can’t beat it on a good day—or even a bad day.’ The weather is changeable, but on a glorious day there is nothing like it. A large number of people work for the government since it is the capital, and they also have given up on umbrellas, since the wind shreds them in an instant. On a good blowing day you will see the remains stuffed into trashcans on every street. It is like the city it most resembles, San Francisco, prone to earthquakes, which the people cope with as best they can.

It is also a very green city. The early settlers of the city laid out a town belt of bushland around the city, that has a convent on it to prevent any sale or development.

I wanted to capture some of that beauty, but also some of the history that Wellingtonians—let alone foreign readers—might not know about. I spent a lot of time pouring over old photographs, which might possibly be my most favourite method of research. I set my heroine, Faith’s father’s pub as a very often photographed popular pub in Wellington. It is long gone, but it had these amazing—and slightly creepy—carved wooden heads all along its roofline. Sometimes as an author you find things in history that you almost couldn’t imagine. I was also able to include the one street that comprised Wellington’s Chinatown, and delved into some of the very real racial tensions in that area.

The area where Faith’s mother lives, is just north of Wellington, and is actually based on the area my grandmother came from. The hills there are pretty close to mountains, but in ‘the backblocks’ as New Zealanders would say, plenty of farmers carved out their lives. I was able to write this bit from experience, after a trip up into the hills. I remember it was quite a drive, at quite an angle. Luckily Faith and her family all ride horses because in a car, even in a four-wheel drive, it was rather treacherous.

Yet, as a writer everything is fodder for the imagination, and I certainly hope those that read Weather Child will enjoy traveling back with me to a New Zealand that is wrapped in history and my own imagination.

Just I hope no one expects to see many magicians there…we like to keep that bit hush hush.

Weather Child
The Awakened Epoch
Book One
Philippa Ballantine

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Publisher: Imagine That! Studios
Date of Publication:  1st March 2014

ISBN: 978-0615953489

Word Count: 105,000

Cover Artist: Alex White

Book Description:

Never alone. Never apart.

They are the Awakened, a unique breed of people in a remote corner of the world. Faith is one of these gifted carriers of the Seraphim; and in return of her unconditional love, her Seraphim grants her powers of incredible potential.

But not all carriers embrace their blessing.

Jack loathes being an Awakened. He never asked for it, his Seraphim keeping him alive even in spite of his desire to die. Not even a great war could rid him of this curse.

Now a magician of incredible ability and a walking dead man must find a way to work together to save the Seraphim. Someone covets the power of the Awakened, and will not stop until that power belongs to him.

About the Author:

New Zealand born fantasy writer and podcaster Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order and the Shifted World series. She is also the co-author with her husband Tee Morris of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels. Her awards include an Airship, a Parsec, the Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice, and a Sir Julius Vogel. She currently resides in Manassas, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and a furry clowder of cats.

Twitter: @PhilippaJane


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