Horsham author finishes eight-book YA fantasy series

Michael Harling (contributed pic)Michael Harling (contributed pic)
Michael Harling (contributed pic)
Horsham author Michael Harling has completed an eight-book YA fantasy/adventure series called The Talisman, self-published on Amazon by Lindenwald Press, his own, personal publishing house.

As Michael explains: “I chose to self-publish The Talisman for a number of reasons, the main one being that I wished to maintain control over the series. I was not prepared to take the chance on a publisher who might drop the series halfway through, and I wanted the series published only after it was fully complete.

“To that end, I have spent the past decade writing, revising and publishing the books myself. I am pleased with the results, and I hope others will be as well. The books have local interest as all the stories begin and end in Horsham, and some of the action takes place in and around Sussex as well.

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“Although a transplant from Upstate New York, I have lived in Horsham for the past 22 years. My interest in the history of Britain in general and Sussex in particular prompted me to share my findings with my grandsons back in the States. To that end, I wrote the novels, which explore the area from Roman times through the Middle Ages, to the Victorian era, and into the War Years, with each book moving the overall story arc toward its conclusion at the Battle of Britain.”

The books are: The Magic Cloak – takes place in the Middle Ages; The Roman Villa – takes place in Roman Britain; The Sacred Tor – features the battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings; The Bard of Tilbury – features Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare; The Crystal Palace – involves the opening of the Crystal Palace and also involves the Royal family; The White Feather – suffragettes and Zeppelins; The Isle of Avalon – the Battle of Camlann; and The Talisman – the Battle of Britain. The series, all eight books, are now live on Amazon. The paperbacks range in price from £5 to £7. The ebook versions are £0.99.

Michael, aged 69, said: “I had just published Finding Rachel Davenport with Prospera in 2012 and was trying to come up with another manuscript to send them. The plot, however, wouldn’t cooperate so, as a diversion, I took a month away from the novel and wrote a simple story for my grandsons titled Mitch and Charlie and the Magic Cloak.

“I’d had the notion of writing something for them for some time. I had moved from rural New York to Sussex a decade earlier and, now that I had grandchildren living so far away, I wanted to acquaint them with my new home and its history.

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“My idea was to bring them through some sort of portal, a la The Narnia Chronicles or Puck of Pook’s Hill, but in trying to write the story, I found myself stumped.

"Then my wife found a set of blue velvet curtains in a charity shop and told me she could make a cloak out of it, and I could use that as the portal. I readily agreed even though I had no idea how I was going to make it work. But, eventually, I came up with an idea, and the Magic Cloak was born.

“After writing the story, and sending copies—along with the cloak—to my grandsons, I then went back to the novel, but the little story wouldn’t let me go. As the weeks went by, I found myself thinking more about The Magic Cloak than my novel and, as JRR Tolkien once observed, the tale grew in the telling until, before I knew it, I had an entire eight-book series planned out.

“Before settling into the second book, however, I knew I needed something—an artifact, a charm, something mysterious—to tie the books together. Then a friend told me about a crystal shop on East Street now long gone, so I went there, explained to the proprietor what I was looking for, and she suggested an obsidian scrying mirror. Again, with no idea of how I was going to make it work, I bought it, and it became the Talisman, the earthly embodiment of the two-faced goddess Brighid, forged from Star Fire in the ancient times. And that, along with the cloak, became the centrepiece of the series.”

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