I am very excited to tell you that my new book, Elkwood is about to be released this Sunday! It is a novel for young adults, but I think adults will enjoy it too.
check it out here: Elkwood by Dawn Meredith
Elkwood is set in the fictional town of Harlington, which I based on the real life geographical area around Durham in England where the river Wear bends around itself, creating an island upon which a castle stands. Charlotte Campbell is the main character and she's a bit different. Don't yawn! She really is. When we first meet Charlotte, she thinks the most important thing in life is being beautiful and fashionable. She spends all her time making sure she is the 'queen bee' at her high school, Harlington High. But one day she discovers a terrible secret about herself that blows apart her entire world.
Here's the blurb, which you will find on the back of the book:
Seventeen year old Charlotte Campbell has to be beautiful, rich and ruthless to stay Queen of Harlington High School. But one day she discovers a terrible secret her father has kept from her since she was eight years old. Her past is incredible. She is a scientific anomaly with a dangerous ability. The merciless organisation, Elkwood, want her DNA and they will kidnap the person who means the most to her in the world to get it. To rescue him, Charlotte will have to forget everything she once was and embrace a new kind of human that she has become.
Why science fiction?
I love it! I have been a fan of space stories and robot stories my whole life. As a four year old I was fascinated by Doctor Who, even though it was terribly scary! I also grew to love fantasy stories, reading such authors as Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia series and in particular, a book called Merryl of the Stones by Brian Caswell, which was a huge influence upon my interests. Of course George Lucas' Star Wars ignited a further passion for space dramas.
In Elkwood I explored the idea of transhumanism - what will humans evolve to next? Will we be part machine? Will we have super powers? What if it all goes wrong...
I began with the absolute opposite to a science fiction buff - Charlotte Campbell - a fashion queen. She's shallow, obsessed with her appearance and has no idea what real friendship is. On the day her carefully constructed, safe world collapses she must throw away everything she thinks she knows about life and embrace something completely alien to her. And its very scary. She must ask for help, trust people and care about their feelings. Because whether she likes it or not, her body is changing and with it comes incredible power and a terrible price to pay. I won't say anything more! But if you have heard of Buffy the Vampire Slayer you'll have an idea of the courage Charlotte must find within herself. There's a ruthless secret enemy agent called Anna Povic who is trying to force Charlotte to Elkwood, by any means. There's a mysterious guy called Gabe hanging out with the nerds who help Charlotte who has a secret past of his own, because we're all running from something, right? He seems to know all about Charlotte, all the things she is trying to hide from everyone and she hates that!
There's humour too! Because being able to see the funny side of things helps us cope when life goes wrong. Sometimes the absurd, random thing that happens is what makes you laugh and keep striving towards your goal.
In setting up the physical surroundings for Harlington and the scary place called Elkwood, I researched Brutalism, which is a form of architecture that was popular in the 1950s in Britain, following the second world war. Two words describe Brutalism - ugly but interesting! Essentially, it was about re-using factory buildings but soon grew to include new architecture which used concrete and bare, exposed materials in very creative ways. Intricate decoration and elegance, such as had been popular in Victorian times, with wrought ironwork for instance, was completely ignored in Brutalism. For Elkwood, part of a very organisation called the Genetic Security Alliance, the appearance had to speak of its cruelty and relentless pursuit of control over human DNA.
Here are some of the photos I used to inspire me, including abandoned buildings, which are very interesting! Also my own drawing, which helped the book designer get the cover image right.
How long did it take to get Elkwood published?
I started writing Elkwood in January 2013, so 8 years! It was called Super Charlotte back then. The title went through a few changes, to Dead Again, back to Super Charlotte and then finally to Elkwood. It was submitted to several different publishers too, until it found appreciation at Shooting Star Press, who aren't afraid of a little transhumanism!
Other influences and research topics
Other things I researched were:
100 female role models of the world
30 alternative titles I could use
female super hero characteristics
space-time principles and time travel. I also asked physicists for advice
Ben Ten Alien Force, where Ben, Gwen and Kevin are teenagers. It was fun!
So, you never know, when you start writing a book, quite where its going to end up! I didn't know Charlotte would have a super power. I knew something bad was happening to her body, but I didn't know how I would get around that. Or the price she'd pay for using her power. Anyway, buy the book and find out what happened!