Today we welcome Bex Hogan to the blog sharing some insights about her new book, Brontë Tempestra and the Lightning Steeds. A different direction for this author widely known for her YA titles.
Fantasy has always been my true love. I wasn’t the kind of child who read to see my reality reflected back at me, I wanted to escape, to have my imagination stretched beyond its limitations. Perhaps that was because my mum read me Grimm’s Fairy Tales at bedtime rather than the safe modern versions. Or maybe because our frequent trips to the library helped me discover new worlds I couldn’t even dream of. I wasn’t a strong reader as a child, but it was always fantasystories which reached me, stole me away to far-off places, and gave me a safe space to be both scared and awed. So it’s not surprising really that fantasy is what I write.
For the past several years I have written for the YA market – both my debut trilogy, The Isles of Storm and Sorrow, and my recent standalone, Black Heat, are dark fantasy adventures, full of rage and revenge. And I loved writing them.
But then covid struck and the world shrunk and grew cold. Writing darkness wasn’t so good for the soul and I found myself longing – no needing – to write something different. I wanted to shine a light into my days, wanted to smile, to laugh. And when someone made an off-hand comment one day about night school, all I heard was knight school, and the idea for Bronte was born. Before I knew it, I was busy drafting a story for a completely different audience about a princess going to knight school, and loving every second of it. Taking a very familiar concept of knights and princesses but leading it into the kind of fantasy world I love creating, was so much fun, hitting tropes and finding ways to twist them about to make something new out of something old. It was a joyous challenge, both in terms of world-building, but for adapting my writing for a completely different market – and reader.
Bronte showed up at a time when I really needed her. She distracted me during those hard lockdown days, and made me chuckle to myself while I worked. It didn’t matter if anyone else found it funny back then, if my silly humour translated beyond the page, because I was writing it all for myself. It took me back to the days of being a little girl who longed for adventures, only this time I was in charge of the journey. I filled the pages with all the ingredients I loved in stories – friendship, magical animals, monsters. A pinch of danger, a dollop of fear, before a heaped tablespoon of courage to save the day. And most of all, I filled it with enough silliness to keep me laughing.
Now the book isn’t just mine anymore, and Bronte is taking her biggest adventure yet – venturing into the hands of readers. My hope now is that she will be there for them as much as she was for me. That she will whisk them away to a magical place, offer them a safe escape even as they go on the scary quest, but above all make them laugh. And perhaps, just perhaps, inspire a few of them to one day write their own fantasy tales.
Bronte Tempestra and the Lightning Steeds is written by Bex Hogan, Illustrated by Hannah McCaffery and published by Piccadilly Press.