Tag Archives: Fairytale

Guest Post – Writing Through Grief And Loss By Geoff Mead


Today we are celebrating this gorgeous book by Geoff Mead and Sanne Dufft, Bear Child.

Bear Child was released on the 22nd February 2018 published by Floris Books and is simply gorgeous through and through.

Today Geoff chats about writing to cope with loss in this wonderful, beautiful guest post…


‘Now that people live in towns and bears live in the woods, have you ever wondered what happened to the bear folk?’ At bedtime Ursula asks Daddy to tell her the tale of the bear folk: special beings who can choose to be either a bear or a person, depending if they want to catch a fish or read a book. Bear folk live extraordinary lives, he tells her. They are strong and clever, kind and loving, adventurous and creative — just like her. Will I ever meet one?, Ursula asks. Perhaps she already has… Bear Child is an inspirational story of parental love, belief and embracing individuality. This beautiful picture book weaves together Geoff Mead’s charming words with Sanne Dufft’s ethereal illustrations to create a truly timeless folktale.


Writing Through Grief And Loss

All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them.

 So said Out of Africa author Isak Dinesen, in a 1957 New York Times interview. She knew a thing or two about sorrow, having lost her father to suicide, her husband to divorce, her health to syphilis, her lover to a flying accident, and her beloved Kenyan farm to bankruptcy.

When my wife Chris became ill in 2013 and died a year later from the effects of a brain tumour, I wrote – as Dinesen herself had written – because the story was all I had. Telling it was the only way I knew to bear the sorrow. From that impulse to write, came two books: a children’s story, Bear Child (Floris Books) and a memoir, Gone in the Morning: A Writer’s Journey of Bereavement (Jessica Kingsley Publishing).

In a sense, Bear Child is a love letter to my wife. The character of Ursula is exactly how I imagined Chris had been as a child. I wrote the story as a gift for her when she was already very ill, to celebrate her fiercely independent spirit and her lifelong love of bears, and to give her an image of homecoming that she could turn to as she came to the end of her life. After a spell in hospital, she died peacefully at home and Bear Child was one of the last things we spoke about.

Chris loved the story and it has been thrilling to see how Sanne Dufft’s illustrations have perfectly caught its joyful, life-affirming energy.

About a month after Chris died, I found myself writing poems and short pieces about my experience of grief for no other reason than a deep-seated need to express my feelings. Profound loss shakes us to our very core: we lose not just the person we have loved but also our own sense of identity. In the vortex of grief, everything is out of kilter: time itself becomes disjointed. I found that by writing, I could hold memories more lightly, pay more attention to what was happening in the present moment and capture fleeting glimpses of hopes and dreams for the future.

Bereavement and loss are inherent in the human condition. Much is known about our generalised pattern of response: shock – denial – anger – bargaining – depression – acceptance. Yet each person’s experience is unique. Each of us has to navigate our own way through the terra incognita of grief. Writing from our own experience enables us to honour this journey and to chart the course we have taken, even if we don’t know where we are going. I published Gone in the Morning, not to provide expert guidance but simply in the hope that readers struggling with their own bereavement might feel less alone.

In the three years since Chris died, I have written stories, poems and regular blog posts and all this writing has served me well. None of it has diminished the pain of losing her. Rather it has heightened my experience of grief and deepened my understanding of how conscious mourning keeps things moving. I have gone through the whole gamut of emotions, but I’ve never felt stuck. Piece by piece, I have negotiated the narrative wreckage of Chris’s death and begun to re-story my life.

Who are the bear folk and what makes them special?

Bear Child is an inspirational story of parental love, belief and embracing individuality. This beautiful picture book weaves together Geoff Mead’s charming words with Sanne Dufft’s ethereal illustrations to create a truly timeless folktale.

Follow the rest of the #BearChild blog tour with Floris Books on Twitter and Instagram.

You can buy a copy of Bear Child here or from your local bookshop!


About Geoff Mead

Born into the post-war baby-boomer generation, Geoff was the first member of his family to go to university (and the first to drop out). He quickly returned to complete his studies in mediaeval history after a salutary period washing cars for a living. With not much idea of what he really wanted to do, he cut off his shoulder-length hair and joined the police service which he left three decades later as a chief superintendent.

During those years he did pretty much everything from walking the beat to directing national police leadership programmes and from commanding a police district to training with the F.B.I. in Virginia, U.S.A. En route he also found time to train as an organisational consultant, complete an MBA,a postgraduate diploma in Gestalt psychology, and a PhD in action research.

He has worked as an educator, executive coach and organisational consultant for nearly two decades in the boardrooms of blue chip companies, universities, public sector organisations and government departments. In recent years he has specialised in board development, group facilitation and the use of story and narrative in organisations. Geoff is Director of Narrative Leadership associates – a consultancy using storytellng to help develop sustainable lreadership.(www.narrativeleadership.com)

He was on the faculty of the Prime Minister’s Top Management Programme and has co-designed and led national leadership programmes for the Cabinet Office. He has published a wide range of book chapters and articles on aspects of organisational and leadership development, action research (and latterly on storytelling) in professional and academic journals.

Geoff has four grown up children, five grandchildren and an entirely unreasonable love of Morgan sports cars. He divides his time between his late wife’s house in the Cotswolds and Lyme Regis where he dreams and writes in sight of the sea.

About Sanne Dufft

Sanne has illustrated many children’s picture books, including The Shepherd Boy and the Christmas Gifts. She won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators European Conference Portfolio Content 2015. Her first authored book Magnus and the Night Lion will be available from Floris Books later in 2018.

You can find out more about Sanne on her website – sanne-dufft.de

Or why not follow her on twitter – @DufftSanne


Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!

#BearChild


A huge huge thank you to Geoff for such a superb guest post and to CJ at Floris Books for asking me to host!

Have you read any of Bear Child? What did you think? What was your favourite part? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

Guest Post – Our Favourite Magical Moments In Literature by Katharine & Elizabeth Corr


I am over the moon to have been asked to be part of the blog tour for the second book in this fantasy, witch-y, fairy-tale YA series, The Witch’s Tears by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr.

The Witch’s Tears is due to be released on the 26th January 2017 published by Harper Collins Children’s Books and is the sequel to lasts years debut The Witch’s Kiss.

I literally cannot wait to read this book!  Not only is it set to be an amazing read, but Katharine and Elizabeth are just the loveliest.

I’m THAT excited that both books are part of the British Books Challenge January Prize pack with thanks to Harper Collins Children’s.

For my stop on the blog tour Katharine and Elizabeth share their favourite magical moments in literature!

*swishes magic wand*


Can true love’s kiss save the day…?

Electrifying dark magic debut by authors and sisters, Katharine and Elizabeth Corr.

Sixteeen-year-old Meredith is fed-up with her feuding family and feeling invisible at school – not to mention the witch magic that shoots out of her fingernails when she’s stressed. Then sweet, sensitive Jack comes into her life and she falls for him hard. The only problem is that he is periodically possessed by a destructive centuries-old curse.

Meredith has lost her heart, but will she also lose her life? Or in true fairytale tradition, can true love’s kiss save the day?


Our Favourite Magical Moments

 We LOVE fantasy in all its various guises, both as readers and as writers. Fantasy opens the door into another world, often literally – whether by stepping through a wardrobe, getting swept up by a tornado or climbing into a painting. In fact, these interfaces of the real and the magical might be our favourite elements of fantasy literature: they hold out the promise that any minute, our ordinary lives might become extraordinary. So here, in no particular order, are the top five magical literary moments from our childhood…

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C S Lewis): Lucy finds Narnia

 ‘And then she saw that there was a light ahead of her… A moment later she found that she was standing in the middle of a wood at night-time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air.’

 Apart from fairy tales, the Narnia stories were our first introduction to fantasy. We both remember exploring an old wardrobe in our grandmother’s house after reading this bit of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. We were utterly crushed not to find a magical land at the back of it.

The Box of Delights (John Masefield): Kay opens the Box for the first time

 ‘…the Box slowly opened. Inside he saw what he took to be a book, the leaves of which were all chased and worked with multitudinous figures, and the effect that it gave him was that of staring into an opening in a wood.’

 We came to this book through first seeing the BBC adaptation. It’s such a wonderful, unique blend of magic and real life (or real life as it was in the 1930s, at least). When Kay first opens the Box he encounters Herne the Hunter and gets to experience life as a stag, a bird and a fish – all within two minutes of human time.

Tom’s Midnight Garden (Philippa Pearce): Tom discovers the garden

‘Tom opened the door wide and let in the moonlight. It flooded in, as bright as daylight – the white daylight that comes before the full rising of the sun. The illumination was perfect.’

Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a clock that strikes thirteen? Tom’s investigation leads to the discovery of the garden that only exists at a special time of night. He goes on to have magical adventures in late Victorian England.

Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Caroll) – Alice climbs through the mirror

‘And certainly the glass was beginning to melt away, just like a bright slivery mist.’

The Looking Glass is another way to escape from reality into a magical world. And yes, we did both check periodically that the mirror over the fireplace at home hadn’t turned into silver gauze. A mirror universe with backwards writing and talking chess pieces was just so tempting

The Dark is Rising (Susan Cooper) – Will awakens on Midwinter Day

‘He was woken by music. It beckoned him, lilting and insistent…There was in this music so much of the deepest enchantment of all his dreams and imaginings that he woke smiling in pure happiness at the sound.’

This is the moment when Will Stanton realises he is not just a normal boy. The music beckons him outside and he discovers a snow-covered landscape from the depths of time, and first encounters the Dark Rider who pursues him throughout the rest of the book.

You can buy a copy of The Witch’s Tears here or from your local bookshop

You can catch a previous post from Katharine & Elizabeth Corr about favourite literary curses here


About Katharine & Elizabeth Corr

We are sisters and best friends (try writing a book with someone else and you’ll see why that last bit is kind of important). After spending our childhood in Essex, we now live ten minutes away from each other in Surrey. We both studied history at university and went to work in London for a bit. Then we stopped working to raise families, because somehow we missed the memo explaining that children are far more demanding than clients or bosses. When we both decided to write novels – on account of fictional people being much easier to deal with than real ones – it was obvious we should do it together.

Stuff Katharine likes: playing instruments badly; dead languages; LOTR; loud pop concerts; Jane Austen; Neill Gaiman; Loki; the Surrey Hills. Killing off characters.

Stuff Elizabeth likes: sketching, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, cinema, long baths, kitchen discos, Terry Pratchett, Thor, London. Saving characters.

Stuff we both like: YA / non-YA fantasy and science fiction,Star Wars, Star Trek, each other (most of the time).

You can find out more about Katharine and Elizabeth on their website – www.corrsisters.com

Or why not follow them on twitter – @katharinecorr and @lizcorr_writes


Blog Tour

You can follow or catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!


A huge huge thank you to Katharine and Elizabeth for such a superb guest post and for being so lovely to invite me onto the blog tour!  Also a huge thank you to Jess at Harper Collins for having me and being super wonderful and supportive with the British Books Challenge too!

Have you read The Witch’s Tears or the first book The Witch’s Kiss?  What did you think?  What are your favourite magical moments in literature?  I would love to hear from you!  Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!

Happy Reading!

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