Today sees the launch of my friend, and fellow Little Bird Author, Jill Turner's debut novel, 'The Children of Albion'.
Now, I have an honestly policy when it comes to dealing with books and authors in our community; if I don't like something, I'll not say anything (Not all books are for all people) but if I do like it, then I think it's only fair to share the awesome - and I also feel it fair to disclose to you that I did edit and illustrate this book. Don't roll your eyes at me LOL - this isn't about self-promotion, well it might be a little bit... ;) BUT SERIOUSLY,
I am passionate about spreading the word of this book because this book matters.
Jill's book 'The Children of Albion' is what I call 'MindFood' - it makes you think in a way that good literature should. It's gritty, and real, and heartbreaking, and bleak, and it roars unashamedly with a socio-political agenda - an agenda that wants to see a group of people, so often forgotten by the authorities and wider society, put at the forefront of our minds.
Before I became a full time book person, I was a secondary school teacher of English in a London Comprehensive School. Over the years I worked at that school (almost 15 years) I had many roles, but the one I loved the most was being a Head of Key Stage, which meant I had the responsibility of the pastoral and academic welfare of two year groups (nearly 350 students)
|Jill Tuner worked for many years on |
Fleet Street. She wrote and
edited for some of the widest circulating National
newspaper in the UK.
Her passion for journalism and social justice
fuelled this, her debut novel.
Those students came from very diverse backgrounds; that's a quirk of London living, there were children of high powered and celebrity media types, learning alongside illegal refugees who had arrived in the country having lost their parents, learning alongside children who came from terrible homes - and by terrible I mean, go to the furthest shadows of your imagination, and then some; poverty, sexual and physical abuse, drugs, crime, addiction, mental health issues etc.
My position allowed me a doorway into a world that I, despite being educated, 'worldly' (or so I thought) had no real idea existed. I could not imagine - not really - that people would bear children inconsequentially and not have a care about their well-being, their growth, their emotions, their aspirations.... I didn't understand how that could possibly happen, and it's not with a sense of righteous indignation - I learned there are so many reasons why this happens, and it's not without blame on the individuals who fail as parents for these children - they are accountable for their own actions, their own place in life to a degree - BUT it is not without blame on society as a whole, too.
When you are trapped - and I use that word very purposefully, TRAPPED in a cycle of poverty, poor education, low aspiration, media messages reinforcing your lack of value, when the world tells you constantly that you are a failure and tells you constantly that you can break the cycle and become the next Richard Branson, but does nothing to really facilitate you doing that - there is a sense of hopelessness that, unless you are a freaking saint or superhero, makes it impossible to fight your way out of that bag.
And even if you do try to fight your way out - remember you're being kicked from all sides whilst you're doing it. Kicked and kicked, and kicked.
|With a passion for the Pre-Raphaelites,|
Jill wanted the illustrations to reflect
that time period with a contemporary
twist. There is a strong sense of allegory
in the novel, and Jill plays with notions
of Arthurian legend.
Jill's book means so much to me, affected me so deeply, because she has told the story of these children - children who look out into the world and dare to believe that maybe - just maybe there is hope for them, too.... only hope isn't always enough.
It's important this book, and this story, the story of 'The Children of Albion' gets into the very hands of those in society who can make positive, effective change - those who have the power to reach out a hand to those children and feed that flame of hope - empowering those children to make the change for themselves that they need to make to break free.
So please, if you're looking for a change in your reading, looking to feed your mind, looking for a story told in the very bones of reality, or know someone who is, support Jill's release of this book.
This is what some very incredible people are saying about it:
|The illustrations, which were done by|
me (a fellow Beardsley enthusiast)
are meant to reflect some of the
deeply poignant elements of
the novel. A juxtaposition of high-art
and the gritty reality of living on a
British 'sink' estate.
“Jill has a very perceptive way of telling a story and a wonderful ear for dialogue. Her writing combines humour, warmth and a strong understanding of character.”
(John Boyne: Author of 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas')
“The juvenile underclass is one of the big issues on the political and public agenda. This is an thoughtful, insightful and intelligent overview by someone who knows what they are talking about.”
(Simon Walters, Political Editor Mail on Sunday)
“Jill has written a sharp, dark novel of survival and belonging that brings to mind the social conscience of Dickens and the gritty ambivalence of urban life. It carries gratifyingly complex themes of nationality, individuality, civilisation, patriotism and friendship.”
(Kevin MacNeil, novelist and poet;)
You can get your copy on kindle here:
and in paperback https://www.createspace.com/6510925
It will also be available in paperback on Amazon worldwide from this weekend and on iBOOKS.
In post-millennial England, the next generation are falling through the gaps of a very broken society. In the wasteland of a English sink-estate, where the adults are lost to drink, drugs, poverty and destructive relationships, the next generation run feral, surviving day to day by any means possible.
Starved of food, love and affection, the children face a bleak future following in the crime-riddled footsteps of their parents, and their parents’ parents before them.
However, when the middle-class dreamer, drop-out, and revolutionary teen, Albion makes camp in one of the derelict houses, an unlikely friendship is struck between him and Robbie, a boy born of the estate who desperately longs for things to be different.
With dreams of establishing a modern-day Camelot, and refuge for those children let down by society, Albie and Robbie attempt to create a new and better world, but they soon discover the weight of a crown is a very heavy burden to bear, and the legacy of the last generation is a terrifying and consuming beast.