Title: The Learn
Author: Tony Halker
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publishing Date: September 29th 2016
Genre: Dystopian, Historical Fiction
Links: Goodreads . Amazon
Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.
A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior. Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.
At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by.
A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.
The Journey to Write This Book
How many adults over middle age can remember with precision who taught them to read. I am not sure who taught me, yet I am so grateful now. I have come to writing because I have always loved to read and am in awe of those writers who create worlds that draw me in, let me escape into both characters and events.
I was brought up in a crowded apartment, I probably never slept in a room alone until I was twenty years old. We had little space, constantly heard our own noise and that from the apartments downstairs and to left and right. I learnt to escape into books, the worlds there became my place, my room, somewhere to take a dream, somewhere to aspire to, yet I would never have considered that I could write or that it was a reasonable or sensible way for me to seek to go through life. My upbringing would have said there were many thousands of priorities much higher than the idea of writing: work at school, pass exams, get a job and help pay the rent were the priorities. That is the cultural reality and imperative for so many people; writing, or painting or music would have been considered frivolities that would not pay the rent or put food on the table; those messages reflect the hard lives of many of my parents generation, we were not an exception.
The complexity of the books I read has grown, my taste has changed. I now allow myself not to finish a book, there was a time when the puritan in me, said that books are good, you have started and must finish. Books change lives and fiction probably contains more truths than much of the non-fiction we see published. It is interesting that it is called “non fiction” and not “faction”. I appreciate that the word is already used elsewhere, but perhaps there are few facts in some non fiction!
I can still read a wonderful book, identify with the characters and almost feel a sense of bereavement when the books come to an end and I can no longer spend time with the people there, as their life develops and a new story unfolds. Those books I love the most I can read again and again years apart, finding something new each time
I recently came across a pile of papers in an old computer case that were the first chapter of a novel I attempted ten years ago. I had forgotten my attempt to write that particular story but many times in life I have written things down, embryo novels, all have been discarded; most were started at a time of life change or stress as an outlet for a message or emotion.
I am a lucky man who has now been able to make the time to write when I want to. I wish to be a story teller that draws the reader in, makes them want to be in the book; though the messages the book seeks to debate, consider and present are important to me. I hope The Learn does not dictate views but asks or poses questions.
I know now I have always yearned to spend my time writing. I got to my first 48,000 words of The Learn and had many doubts about whether readers would like it. Kind people I could trust to be honest, accomplished readers, gave me confidence both to finish this debut novel and publish it. I will always be grateful to them and particularly to my wife and children, whose brutal honesty where they felt I needed to consider or look again made me think.
It took me a year to write, six or more months to edit and six months to publish. I have learnt so much in the process that I hope has honed my craft and capability as a writer.
About the Author:
Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a
geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire.
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