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Guest Post: The Middle Ages (Mirror Magic Blog Tour)

 Hello everybody! Today, I have the amazing Claire Fayers on my blog, talking about her new book, Mirror Magic. I am so in love with this book, which is why I'm so excited to have Claire on my blog talking all thing magic in the Middle Ages.

Mirror Magic imagines a world exactly like our own but with one big difference – magic exists. Fairy mirrors connect us to the Unworld where the Fair Folk have promised to provide magical goods and services to anyone who asks.
The story starts in 1842, when most mirrors have stopped working and only one small town on the border of Wales and England still has access to the Unworld. The Wyse Weekly Mirror (expertly designed by Jess at Macmillan Children’s Books) gives an insight into daily happenings in the last town of magic.
But what of other time periods?
What would newspapers look like if, for example, the Middle Ages had magic (and newspapers)?

Doomsday Book ‘not to include the Unworld’
King William 1 of England has confirmed that the Doomsday Book will contain information on the mortal world only and will not include the corresponding Unworld towns. It will however contain details of every magic mirror in England.
“The book is a massive undertaking,” said a spokesman for the King, “and including the Unworld will double the workload.”
The Unworld welcomed the news with its usual indifference. “Your king does not rule the Unworld,” one blue-haired man said. “He can count what he likes. It makes no difference to us.”

Magna Carta Signature Vanishes
The Council of Conjurors is demanding an explanation after the King’s signature on the Magna Carta vanished days after he signed it.
The document, promising protection for the church and conjurors was signed after much argument and disagreement. The King, it is said, never liked it.
Now, it seems, he used fairy ink to sign the treaty, knowing the ink would vanish over time. Without a signature, he claims, he is not bound by any of the promises contained therein.
The Council of Conjurors disagree. Whether the ink faded or not is immaterial. What matters is that the King did sign the treaty and there are many witnesses.
Unfortunately, all witnesses have gone into hiding.

Black Death – An Unworld Plague
The Black Death currently ravaging Europe may be the result of Unworld rats brought in with a shipment of enchanted cloth.
Several magic mirrors have been burned in an attempt to contain the plague but it has had little, if any, effect. And, far from discouraging the fashion for Unworld goods, conjurors have been busier than ever, ordering enchanted handkerchiefs and posies of flowers to protect the bearer from infection.
The Unworld has denied all responsibility for the plague but, as we all know, fairies cannot be trusted.

Check out the other stops on the Mirror Magic Blog Tour here:


***Trigger warning: depression, anxiety, suicide, self harm, mental health***

If you're a relative, or a close friend of mine, this will probably be a tough post to read. Or maybe it'll be tough for everyone. But this is my story. And I'm finally ready to share.

In April last year, I was signed off from work with my chronic illness, PoTS. My health had deteriorated rapidly, and leaving the house for a few minutes was a task in itself. With me becoming bed bound most days, and the manager of where I worked being less than sympathetic and turning into a vile bully in an attempt to get rid of me, my mental health started it's descent.

It was around mid-April that I made the decision that I didn't want to do this anymore. "This" meaning life. I turned off my emotions. I went and chopped all my hair off (this was a huge thing for me, I never touch my hair) - only to still feel nothing. It was at this point that I ordered razor blades online. It was at this point that I started to write letters to my loved ones for when the time came. If there's one thing I am, it's organised.

I was finding little enjoyment from anything in life. Social media was a toxic drug to me. But at the time, it was my only friend. I would dip in and out of pro-suicide groups; reassuring myself it was the right choice to make. During this time, I was self-harming everyday. Something my body had become well-accustomed to over the years. I'd say I was shocked at the lack of compassion from friends, but honestly? Even families struggle to understand how desperately lonely and painful it is to live with a chronic illness. I wanted control. Self-harm gave me that. It had done for 8 years. Since my chronic illness began.

That's not to say I didn't have good patches. Of course I did. Weeks would pass sometimes where I wouldn't pick up my weapon of self-destruction; nor did I think of it. But April was different.

As April turned into May, I sat in the bath ready to leave. The letters were spread on my bed; the razor blade in my hand. I laid there for hours. Until I made the decision to try one last time. Because surely life was more than this. I wrapped myself in a towel and hid away all evidence of what I had been so close to doing.

I decided to lose myself the best way I knew how: reading. The book I picked up was After the Fire. I remember posting back in December that this book had saved me from dropping out of the book blogging world; it did a lot more than that. I delved head first into the community and found things to aspire towards; things I could acheive. At the time, I was watching The Following, where I discovered Sam Underwood. He was doing a show in Edinburgh later that year - about mental health. Although anxiety ridden, and ill - I booked tickets to see him. I would be there in August, no matter what.

I connected with Sam online and ended up interviewing him about the show; an achievement I will always hold close to my heart. The deeper I got into the bookish community, the clearer the fog in my mind became. My desperation turned to determination.

On 8th July (11 months today!), I did a 24 Hour Readathon for charity. So many amazing authors were involved, and it was at that moment I realised I was getting better. That I hadn't self harmed for weeks. That life was worth living again. I slowly started going to bookish events, and meeting people who changed my life (looking at you, Liv). In April 2018, I won 2 book blogging awards and even did 2 panels (check that out here). What a crazy year it's been.

By no means is my mental health perfect now. My anxiety is still a struggle every day. But the bad days are fewer. I'm stronger. I'm a fighter. Who knows when the fight will end?

And here I am today. In recovery.

PS. I got to Sam in Edinburgh. Just like I said I would. I had one of the best, carefree nights of my life. He has since sent me a video message to congratulate me on getting better.

PPS. He performed a song called Recovery - Frank Turner. You may want to check that out.

Guest Post: The Inspirations Behind A Thousand Perfect Notes by CG Drews

Today, I have the amazing CG Drews on my blog, author of A Thousand Perfect Notes. I reviewed this book here: A Thousand Perfect Notes Review.  

Read on to find out the inspirations behind Paper Fury's debut novel...

Guest Post: Growing Up With A Psychiatrist Father by Sue Wallman

I write young adult thrillers, and I’ve always been interested in why people do things. In my latest book, Your Turn to Die, something is happening because of behaviours I remember discussing round the dinner table when I was a teenager. I have to be cryptic or I’ll ruin the plot, but this particular phenomenon has fascinated and appalled me ever since. We had lots of interesting discussions about human behaviour at home, which wasn’t that odd when you consider my dad was a psychiatrist.

One of my first memories is of Dad measuring my head with a tape-measure in his study, along with my siblings. We found it hilarious when we crossed our legs and he hit them gently with a little medical hammer to test our reflexes. When I was little, I thought Dad’s job was something to do with cars. I asked what he did and someone said he was a psy – car – trist.

I started to tune in a bit more, and I understood that he was a doctor (in fact he’d once been a GP) and he had patients who were mentally not physically ill. When someone mentioned a “mental hospital” he would get cross; that was derogatory. They were psychiatric hospitals. He wrote to the BBC to tell them to stop doing it. In a non-mobile phone age, as soon as we could write, we were expected to answer the phone and take accurate phone messages for Dad so he could assess a situation when he returned home.

My writerly powers of observation were honed early on. Whenever we were in a public place, Dad would be people watching. On holiday as a family we would attempt to work out the people around us, inventing detailed backstories.

Out and about locally, people would often say hello to Dad and we learned not to say, “Who’s that?” because of patient confidentiality. I did sometimes think he knew people I might have been quite scared of if I’d been on my own. When he left the house before we’d finished Christmas lunch, after a phone call, we understood that someone was having a crisis. We were sometimes unavoidably aware that it was within a family we knew. Of course our own extended family wasn’t immune to mental health issues. No-one’s is.

As I’ve written before, around the release of See How They Lie, my family lived in a psychiatric hospital in York for a few months before Mum and Dad found a house. I was six and it felt entirely normal, though my siblings and I didn’t much enjoy the formal Sunday lunches with the matron.
Dad was always careful with personal space as we were growing up. He didn’t intrude on our lives but we always knew he was on our side. He was such a quiet, academic person it seemed odd that most days he would listen to stories of distress. It was hard to imagine him visiting prisons and talking to people who’d done unspeakable things but I could visualise him in court, although I never saw him give evidence.

Everyone imagines that he sits at the dinner table dishing out advice but he never gives it unless we specifically ask for it. Even then, he might take a long time answering and say something like, “The most important thing is to be you” without expanding on it. When I’ve been confused about people’s motivations or hurt by someone and pushed for his opinion, he might say he considers their behaviour tunnel-visioned or something like that, but my siblings and I have always been expected to come up with our own way of doing things and our own opinions. If we want sympathy and gossip, we go to Mum!

Your Turn to Die by Sue Wallman is published on 3rd May 2018 by Scholastic UK