Where did Wally Twitchett come from?

The following article is from a wonderful author whom I am lucky to count amongst my friends.

Julia Blake is warm-hearted, funny and straight-talking; her words dance across the page, keeping you entertainingly captivated from start to finish.

In this guest post for Electric Eclectic, Julia addresses a question many authors are asked.

Author Julia Blake

One of the questions readers ask me the most is, where do you get your ideas from? The honest answer is most of the time I have absolutely no idea. I’ll be going about my daily life and suddenly a scene, or a name, or a scrap of dialogue will float into my brain. For a few days, weeks, months or even years, it will simply sit there, putting out little tendrils of ideas that twist and grow and take root in my imagination, until suddenly, bam, I have a complete plot in my head, fully formed, as if from nowhere.

Occasionally though, I can pinpoint the exact moment when a book was conceived and can say “there, that was when it all started.” It was like that for The Forest ~ a tale of old magic ~ my most popular book to date. Over a decade ago I was at a family party. It was one of those parties where ages ranged from babes in arms up to great-grandfathers ensconced in the corner with a glass of sherry. It was getting late, the party was winding down, parents of very young children had taken them home and I was sitting on a chair sharing the dregs of a bottle of wine with my brother. Behind us, a group of elderly gentlemen were reminiscing about the good old days. Only half-listening, my attention was abruptly grabbed when one of them came out with the best line ever. Leaning towards the other gents, he enquired…

“Whatever happened, to old Wally Twitchett?”

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Wally Twitchett? What an amazing name. My imagination started humming. By the time I went to bed that night I could “see” Wally in my mind right down to his patched but clean clothes, his beak of a nose and protruding Adam’s apple. I could imagine him rattling around the village where he lived on his old boneshaker bike, because, of course, he had to live in a village. An old, isolated, insular village in a forgotten corner of Britain. A village that appears suspended in time and peopled with quirky characters all with names as odd and memorable as Wally’s. Maybe, the residents of this village never leave, ever. My, that is interesting. Why do they never leave? Because the village is slap bang next to a big old creepy forest with something evil at its core that’s placed a curse on the village and its people. Ooh, a curse! I love it. What type of curse? And so on…

You can see from this process how one simple name can spark a chain reaction in an author’s brain, where one idea tumbles onto the next and the next and so on until the whole plot lies before you. Rather like those domino effects where one tap sends the first domino falling onto the next and it’s only when the whole lot has fallen the picture is revealed.

I wrote the book.

Over a decade later, I published it.

To my joy, others loved the village and its characters as much as I did, and even though Wally ended up a minor character, he still finally found his voice in my story.

A sweet postscript to this story happened last year. I work part-time for a mattress and bed retailer and was one day putting through an order for a lovely young girl and her husband. They wanted to finance the purchase so in the course of completing the form I asked her for her maiden name. Twitchett, she replied.

I stared at her in disbelief.

“No relation to Wally Twitchett?” I tentatively enquired.

“Oh yes,” she replied, he was my great-uncle.

I couldn’t help the smile of disbelief that spread over my face and explained to her the significance of that name. Intrigued, she ordered the book there and then, wanting to share it with the rest of her family. It is touching to think that even though the real Wally Twitchett died childless many years ago, some small part of him will live on forever in The Forest.

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“I met a man made of leaves, with roots for hair, who looked at me with eyes that burnt like fire.”

An impenetrable forest that denies entry to all but a select few. A strange and isolated village, whose residents never leave. A curse that reappears every generation, leaving death and despair in its wake.

What is lurking at the heart of the Forest?

When the White Hind of legend is seen, the villagers know three of its young people will be left dead, victims of a triangle of love, murder and suicide. This time, Sally, Jack and Reuben have been selected, and it’s their turn to be tormented by long-buried jealousies, aroused by the dark entity existing within its shadowy glades. Only by confronting the Forest’s secrets, can they hope to break the curse and change their destinies – if they have the courage.

Keeper of secrets. Taker of souls. Defender of innocence. Existing on the very edge of believing, there is the Forest.

This is its story


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The Adventures of Cassidy Newbold

The Adventures of Cassidy Newbold is a collection of short stories. This is the first story in the book. We hope your enjoy it.

Steps of a Killer

Hampstead Heath is beautiful in the early morning sunlight. The dew sparkled on the grass giving it a magical appeal. Where I stood, the ground was elevated and I could see the city. People were waking or heading off to work. It was just a normal day for them.
For a moment, I looked over at the trees and breathed deeply. I could feel her. Exhaling, I took another breath and my feet moved in her footsteps. Briefly, my eyes closed as I advanced. This was where she was, where she walked, stumbled, and broke into a run. Her feet became mine as I moved with her towards the trees.
I entered a pathway surrounded by trees and knew beyond a doubt this is where she was killed.
My heart thumped. My breath was jagged and the adrenaline surged through my veins as I entered a pathway surrounded by trees. Beyond a doubt I knew this was where she was killed.
A sob escaped me as I became her. I could him following behind. Moving quickly, I stumbled. My head whipped around and his shadow attacked me. Crying out, I threw my arms forward hoping to knock him away. Instead we rolled together on the ground. Me and a shadow from the past.
We came to a stop having hit an obstacle. A shaft of sunlight hit the trees and a beam of light illuminated his face.
Later, I sat alone in the Dandelion café sipping my drink and staring out of the window. The high street is full of shoppers. They carried their bulging bags and have no idea a killer could be amongst them. He probably looked like an average man on his way to do his business, to the pub for a drink, or to meet friends. They don’t know what he did. Or the life he took for his personal gratification.
My fingers worked the fabric in my hand, a bit of cloth that came from an evidence bag.
I felt the girl in my core. Her hopes and dreams for a future she will never have. Poor girl. Poor, poor, girl.
Coldness enveloped me and for a second everything went silent. I took a sharp intake of breath – he was already here.
My mind returned to the café and the surrounding people come back into focus. “Excuse me? Is anyone using this chair?” My blood ran cold. It was the face of the man I grappled with in the forest.
I shook my head, too stunned to speak. He moved the chair to a different table and joined an older man. They chatted as I stared at his profile.
His forehead jutted out a little and his hair was side parted, his nose sharp and long, and he had a slight double chin.
How can he sit there looking like any normal guy?
Pulling out my phone, I selected Seb’s name and listened to it ring. Seb was my brother and a police detective.
“Cassie,” he answered.
“I’ve got him,” I stated.
“What? Where?”
“Right here. I’m looking at him.” I was staring at the side of his head, unable to take my eyes from him, unable to fathom how normal he looked when he carried such a terrible secret. I suppose I expected him to look the monster he is.
“Where Cassie? Where are you?” Seb asked.
“The Dandelion café,” I told him. A place I could often be found.
“Okay, I’m on my way.” The phone went dead. He had a habit of doing that.
The man’s companion got up, “Thanks for the coffee.” My eyes burned into the side of the killer’s head. He glanced around as he raised the cup to his mouth.
My blood boiled. How dare he just sit there and act normally. He probably thinks s no one knows what he’d done but he was wrong. I knew. I couldn’t help myself as I stood and moved over to his table to sat in the empty seat. He looked surprised amd I didn’t speak. The words were bubbling inside but I couldn’t bring myself to ytter them.
“Can I help you?” he asked sounding like a regular guy. Normal voice open expression, friendly even.
Seb would to be annoyed. He says I’m a loose cannon and unable to contain my feelings. He’s probably right. I shouldn’t be taking risks and often unable to help myself.
“I know,” I said quietly.
He stared at me, then said, “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”
I wanted to throw the fabric I still clutched at him, asking if he remembered it. Because of where it came from, I couldn’t.
“Yes, you do.” I spoke calmly. I can see it in your eyes.”
He continued to stare, and I could hear the sound of his breath. “I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else.”
“No, I haven’t. I know who you are, or rather what you are.”
His Adam’s apple bobbed. “And what’s that?”
I looked around. “Do you want me to say it out loud?”
He leaned forward and I flinched as my back pressed into the chair. In a whisper, he said, “You’re crazy, I don’t know you.”
As his breath washed over me, I suddenly realised she wasn’t the first one he’d killed.
The shock of his evil breath made me rise to my feet. I knewe then I shouldn’t confronted him. He stood up too, scraping his chair on the floor.
Glancing out of the window I urged Seb to hurry. The man gave me a hard stare and strode out the door.
Damn! I rushed after him while putting the phone to my ear pressing redial.
Seb’s voice came through and I heard he was on hands-free. His blues and twos echoed down the phone and in the distance, as he approached.
“Can you still see him?” he asked after I explained.
“No, he’s gone. Where are you?”
“Two minutes. I’ll be two minutes. Stay there,” he said urgently before hanging up.
Moving away from the doorway, I looked up and down the high street, stopping sideways to look at the reflections in the shop window hoping to spot him.
I could feel his presence.
Spinning around, he was suddenly right behind me. Something sharp pressed against my skin.
“Keep walking,” he commanded. His touch consumed me. My psyche flooded and I saw everything he had done. How those poor girls suffered! I couldn’t do anything except walk with him. I knew beyond a doubt he would plunge the knife without conscience and disappear into the crowd before I even hit the floor.
Where the hell was Seb?
He walked me into an alleyway, and out of sight behind a large dustbin.
Seb! The sirens approached.
The blade was against my throat and his other hand was pulling at my skirt and underwear.
“How did you know?” His fetid breath covered my face.
“I know everything,” I told him as the blade broke my skin. I panicked.
“You know nothing!” he hissed.
“I know if you don’t let go, that man over there will kill you,” playing my trump card at last.
He laughed, but he still checked. Seb came skidding over, grabbing him by the neck of his jacket. He threw him to the floor. With a knee in his back, Seb cuffed him.
“Are you all right?” he asked staring hard at me.
I pushed my clothes back into position and wiped the trickle of blood from my neck, Seb yelled at me again.
“Yes!” I retorted. He turned away and spoke into his radio.
People gathered, wondering what was going on. They shouted in our direction, aiming their phones. I tried to keep my face hidden. Seb yelled at them to stay back.
The man, the killer, struggled on the ground trying to break loose. Seb had trouble holding on to him. I couldn’t do anything to help as the guy swung round and pulling Seb with him. More sirens got louder as Seb fought to keep a hold on him.
Relief flooded through me as cops spilled into the alleyway. As soon as they relieved Seb of his prisoner, he strode towards me.
“You bloody fool!” he said moving my hand towards my neck and shook his head. “Get that looked at. God, Cass, what the hell were you thinking?”
“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling shaken.
The killer threw us a strange look as they carted him off. My brother, Seb, and I are used to those looks. People often look at us strangely because we look so alike.
“At least you’ve got him,” I said. as we walked back up to the road.
“Have to link him with the crime yet.”
“Him attacking me will give you time to do that.”
“Don’t tell me my job,” he snapped, and I knew I wasn’t off the hook yet. He rarely stayed mad for long.
An ambulance pulled up and I was glad to get inside, away from the curious eyes and stares. It is just a scratch and a plaster was all that was needed.
Seb drove me home and I took the tongue-lashing, as was par for the course. You see, Seb and I are twins, almost identical. Opposite genders can’t be identical and we aren’t, but we’re as much alike that as a brother and sister can be. People always look at us twice.
Seb was a seeker, which means he always finds what he’s looking for, especially when it’s me. He can zone in on where I am, so I never get lost. Seb has no psychic power, but together we work well as a team.
Want to read more?
The Adventures of Cassidy Newbold is free to download from most booksellers.
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