When my first child began nursery, I had a few spare days during the week on my hands. I wondered what I could do and I realised I wanted to learn. I contemplated on whether to undertake a degree in History or English Literature and because of my love of reading, I chose English Literature.
I was nervous at the prospect of studying as I had never been to university and wondered how I would fit the study in while raising a toddler and, of course, the big bad word ‘failure’ often came up in my mind. It was a big commitment but I really wanted to complete a degree and achieve something to make my children proud of me.
During my degree I became fascinated in Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Dickens, Woolf and the great post-modern writers such as Angela Carter and their ability to tell a story. I was intrigued with how English Literature intertwined with history and I thought that maybe I might be good enough to write something that could blend fantasy with history.
I completed my degree in four years which was amazing because during that time I had twins! It was gruelling work and every spare minute was dedicated to study, yet I was determined to make a difference and teach my children the value of hard work and a sense of achievement. I’m so proud that I persevered and when I walked onto the stage at the University of London to collect my degree I just couldn’t believe that I had actually done it. Showing my children the pictures with the scroll in my hands, the cape on my back and the mortarboard on my head made it all so worthwhile because I am able to tell them first hand that you can do anything if you work hard.
My children often played in Bishops Park in Fulham, a borough of London, where we lived at that time. As I watched my children climb trees and run through bushes shouting and laughing I had a moment where I thought wouldn’t it be funny if you could touch a tree and travel back in time. And I just stood there, in the middle of the park thinking ‘wow’ this would be a great idea for a book.
I never really thought about a writing career before I began studying but the more I thought about it, the more I knew I could do it. I had found my calling in life.
And then I came up with the idea of writing about historical events in British history. Why not teach children about history (the good and the bad) while they’re reading a great adventure. So one day I just picked up my laptop, opened it up and began typing. I had no idea where my novel would end up, or how to even construct a plot but I knew that I wanted my protagonists to be two school aged siblings who became William and Isabel Pritchard.
My first novel Between the Trees was published in late 2021 and focuses on the discovery of magical trees in the local park behind the Pritchard’s house. They go on adventures through the trees and unbeknownst to them, uncover dark family secrets that go back five hundred years. The children stumble into the Victorian era where Queen Victoria is opening the Great Exhibition. They visit the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, bump into famous people at the exhibition and get stuck in the Victorian era where unfortunate events occur.
The Amulet’s Curse which was published in 2022 is the follow up of Between the Trees where the children find themselves in the Georgian era in order to save their mother’s life. It’s when King George III is on the throne and the children meet famous people in London at the time such as James Cook, Joseph Banks and Benjamin Franklin. The story comes to a climax when the children arrive at a historical event and are called on by the King to save the day.
I’ve almost completed my third novel in the series called The Chest of Spells where the children end up in an early period of English history to find lost treasures handed down from monarch to monarch.
I plan to write another 5-7 books in the series where the children’s adventures span through the Plantagenet, Stuart and Tudor periods and I have some ideas about the story ending at the house of Windsor.
Why sit in a boring history class when you can provide a child with a mixture of fun and a history lesson all wrapped up in an amazing adventure series?
(c) Ayn O’Reilly Walters
About The Amulet’s Curse:
A year after her discovery of magic trees in their local park, Isabel and best friend Jess are on a school excursion to Kew Gardens. They come across Kew Palace and, knowing nothing about its history, decide to sneak into the library.
A painting on the wall in the library catches Isabel’s eye and she realises the man in the painting is wearing the amulet. When they head for home to tell Isabel’s brother, William, Jess disappears! Isabel must find Jess but who is the man wearing the amulet?
The Amulet’s Curse is the second adventure for the Pritchard children in the hugely successful Between the Trees series.
Order your copy online here.