This week on Guest Blog Wednesdays at The Australian Bookshelf we are joined by author, Farida Mestek. Welcome Farida!
Long live Almendra the High Lady of The Upper Kingdom!
Do you have a character that you have known for ages and decades? A character that has appeared in your head and then entered your life, becoming a fixed entity there, a member of your family? A character that stopped being just a figment of your imagination but became a real person that even your family and friends know treat as such? A character you simply can’t imagine your life without? It sounds rather obsessive when I put it down like this, but I have such a character: Almendra the High Lady of The Upper Kingdom.
I was sixteen when a brooding young woman with pale skin, dark eyes and long, black hair started haunting the back of my mind. I knew that she came from a fantasy land and that she wanted me to tell her story. She was very demanding and wouldn’t leave even though I was not qualified to write down any story at the
time, especially such a strange one. She said that she would wait until such a time when I was ready. However, I could write poems and, in order to appease her and maybe make her go away, I wrote a long (about three pages long!) poem
dedicated to her.
Later, I found out that the story, I described in the poem, belonged to another High Lady– Nermina the Woman-Snake who founded The Upper Kingdom – but not to Almendra, whose story still remained untold. So I resigned myself to my fate and started working on my writing skills. Several years must have gone by before the woman in my head got her name. I don’t remember for sure – somehow you never know what events you have to fix in your mind – but I must have been already at the university, because I started learning Spanish there and fell in love with the word “almendra” – which means almond and is my favourite nut :))
Once I thought that I was ready to tackle down some serious writing, I started working on Almendra’s story. There were many versions, different sets of characters and five drafts before the story I have recently published was produced. It is not long – a novella-length story – and yet I was writing it, editing it and revising it for about five years. At one point Almendra had a brother and a pet mouse. Then she had wings bursting out of her back. There was even a ship involved, a terrible storm and a pair of twins: one good and one evil. But by the end it was Almendra, her Nanny, her great friend Woo the Wolf and her new bff Joannah Nibbler-Pincher.
It was about five years ago that I finally finished “Almendra” and tried to get it
published. But I didn’t manage to find an agent and, distraught that no one
wanted to take on the High Lady and her adventures on her journey to The Land of Men, I put it away for another five years. At the time, I already had a great
deal of backstory on The Upper Kingdom and its High Ladies and even
chapter-by-chapter outline of two more books. But I said good-bye to it all and
started writing other things. However, last year I felt such a strong surge of
nostalgia that I went back and re-emerged myself into the story. I reread it,
found it very sweet but simple, revised it, decided that it was a fairy-tale and
published it with a small e-pub.
But it is not the end yet! By now the story has evolved into something big, different and complex and will make a three-book series to tell. And this time as a real novel. Not to mention that Nermina is now demanding her own story to be told with all the particulars of the foundation of The Upper Kingdom!
Almendra, the High Lady of The Upper Kingdom, is doomed. Many years ago, in a fit of rage and broken heart, her mother banished all the men from the country and plunged it into unhappiness, loneliness and gloom. For many years Almendra’s only companions were her old Nanny and her faithful friend Woo, the wolf. Now Almendra faces a daunting task of going to The Land of Men and getting rid of the curse. But she doesn’t know the way and she has never seen a man in her life.
In comes Joannah Nibbler-Pincher, a girl with a tambourine, a bag of sad songs and a thick black choker that hides the mystery of her painful past. She and Almendra become best friends and Joannah takes it upon herself to take the High Lady and her unconventional family to The Land of Men, where Almendra intends to find love that, according to a fate line left by her mother, will have the power to restore The Upper Kingdom to all its former glory. But it’s a long way to The Land of Men and the outcome of the journey will change Almendra forever. For more info check out Farida’s blog.
If you would like to feature on Guest Blog Wednesdays at The Australian Bookshelf- whether you are an author, reader, writer, blogger- drop me a line at jayne.fordham(AT)live(DOT)com.au and tell me a bit about yourself.