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From the Writer’s Desk

My Writing Year, by Jenna Burtenshaw

I always enjoy the changes that happen throughout a writing year.  My first book, Shadowcry, is about a country locked firmly in the depths of a hard, cold winter, and it is easy to write about a frost-touched world when it is still wintery outside.  Give me dark nights, a warm fire and a hot drink, and I am happy.  Frost, ice and snow all make their mark upon the graveyard city of Fume during Kate and Silas’s time within its walls, but I’ve been exploring their world for a few years now, and writing about the cold doesn’t stop once the seasons change and the sun comes out.

GreenwillowI love spending time in the garden.  As soon as it’s warm enough in spring, I pack up my notes and my laptop and head down into the garden to write under the trees.  My old scottie dog, Maisie, likes sleeping under the garden table during the summer months, while I sit writing about a world of shades, tombs and catacombs, ready to grab everything and run into the house whenever a rain cloud moves in overhead.  If we stay outside until it’s just starting to get dark, a pair of bats start swooping over the table hunting for moths and we know it’s time to hand the garden over to the nocturnal world.

When the leaves start changing and autumn closes in, it is usually too windy to sit outside.  Once the weather chases me indoors, my other dog, Nella, and I head for the cosiness of my writing room.  October rain splashes against the open window and I often stay up working late into the night with hints of Shadowcry’s world creeping in from outside.  From my desk, I can see the spire of an old chapel that reminds me of Fume.  The sound of train horns carries from a distant railway line when the wind is in the right direction, conjuring images of the fearsome Night Train, and a crow often sits staring at me from the trees, making it feel as if Silas is lurking somewhere nearby.

The more time I spend in Kate and Silas’s world, the easier it becomes to cut myself off from whatever is happening around me and I can step completely into a place that is watched over by gargoyles and patrolled by wardens in their sinister black hoods.  I always carry the people and places of Albion with me, and now that the first part of the story is out on bookshelves, I am very lucky to be able to share that world with readers too.

I love peering into the darkest corners of Shadowcry’s world, but Albion is a dangerous place, and it’s good to step back out of it at the end of the day knowing that I can return at any time.  Its frosty streets, like those of many other worlds, are only ever a page turn away.


Jenna Burtenshaw‘s debut novel, Shadowcry, was published this spring. Look for its sequel, Blackwatch, next year! Jenna lives in England, with Maisie and Nella.

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