In my newest book The Meep Sheep the story focuses on four people who are brought together in the hopes of pulling their Kingdom from the brink of forever darkness. The theme of darkness is as old as Mankind itself and is familiar card for those who have ever done any reading. The idea of darkness takes us back to childhood fears and to a time where anything might lurk there waiting to gobble us up. Now we think of people when we think of darkness and of WHO might be lurking there and not WHAT as we once did. It was my hope that in summoning a familiar ‘foe’ like darkness that I might capture a universal fear that seems palpable and real. And in a valley Kingdom where the clouds are in far greater supply than the sunshine, the darkness is very real indeed.
The darkness though is not the enemy here, no, the darkness is but a tool of the enemy, because this enemy is far too clever and too wily to not know that sometimes the oldest and simplest weapons are the most fearful.
But what is a story of villains without the heroes? And thus we return to the players in this piece. When this all began with Messy and the Meep Sheep I had but one character, our intrepid queen out to bring back the sunshine to her Kingdom but as the scope of that world grew I found that I was adding characters, creatures, and was creating not just a place but a world. A world is not a world though without people to connect you to it, and it is these people that kept me connected to the work as a whole.
Queen Messy is a young woman conflicted. Faced with knowing that for generations the women in her family have been the Queens and Mistresses of Magic in the Kingdom of Man is a heavy burden to carry, a burden made even heavier by her not wanting to be like the others. She longs to be an artist and to focus herself on those pursuits, not on ruling a land and its peoples. The Kingdom of Man once faced the ravages of war and while those days are long in the past the shadows of that war run long and still hold sway over the people and the land. Miss Messy must face her own fears and self doubts if she is to be able to find happiness in what she does because if she cannot find happiness in herself, she will never be able to spread happiness to the rest of the Kingdom.
Next comes Ashley Pickles, a young man who wants only the simple things from the world – a song on his lips, a guitar in his hands, and someone to play to. Now, this wasn’t always the case with young Master Pickles, who as a young man had a voice which could charm the animals from the trees and could warm the coldest of hearts, but when he was taken as an apprentice by a man touched deeply by Ashley’s songs it was only then that he began to find his true talent and his true voice. Ah, but every great gift has its price, and will Ashley be able and willing to make the sacrifices it takes to truly find his path?
Miss Amanda is a budding reporter in the Kingdom of Man but has yet to land the big story. When something comes between her and something special in her life though she becomes the center of negotiations with an ancient race and Kingdom that was once allied with the Kingdom of Man but which finds itself alienated and opposed to their one time friends. Can this young woman overcome her fear and face the wrath of this old and honored race? Can she bridge the divide once more between her Kingdom and theirs?
Finally there comes No One, the only character not inspired by someone I know. No One was a character that came to me when I was starting to put the first ideas together for what I thought would be the final story of the book (which, it wasn’t, but he IS in the final story as well so it worked out). No One is a man set with one of the gravest and most dangerous of all the jobs in the Kingdom of Man, watching something that is rightfully feared. But as dire as his job is, he knows that if something should happen to what he guards then his Kingdom and indeed all Kingdoms may be lost. But can he hold back a rising tide of fear that comes with fire to face the very thing they have been warned away from all these generations?
The Meep Sheep is a story for all ages, a fairy tale novel made up of several short stories that stitch together to form one narrative. There is no overt violence, no foul language, but there is darkness here, in theme and actuality. But all good fairy tales confront the darkness and it is only by confronting it that we can conquer it. The book is twelve dollars but is something that can be passed from parent to child, from friend to friend, from teacher to student, and on and on. And once you’ve read it I think you’ll agree with me when I say it’s a story you won’t see, or ever forget.