|The Skyflower -
When Paul Collins asked me to write a Quentaris book I eagerly
accepted the challenge. I'd written only one other fantasy novel,
Shaedow Master, and remembered how exciting it had been
to create whole new worlds. But I had no idea where to begin. Then
my partner, Ryn, offered me a wonderful gift. She's also a writer
(of short stories for adults) and had been playing round with an
idea about a girl who carries a beehive around in a suitcase. But
the idea hadn't led anywhere. 'Would you like to use it?' Ryn asked
me. So I named the girl Abelha (which means bee in Portuguese)
and gave her a barrow rather than a suitcase to carry her bees
round in. Then I thought, I need a boy character, too - perhaps
even a love-interest for Abelha, because she seemed lonely - so
I created a boy called Joshi, who liked flowers ...
Joshi is a disappointment to those around him. Born
into the powerful Nibhelline family, he prefers growing flowers
to living up to the family name. So when Joshi meets Abelha, and
learns of the existence of a mysterious green flower beyond an
unexplored rift, he finally has a chance to earn his family's respect.
But first he and Abelha must journey into an exotic world where
trees reach into the sky, unicorns feed in ferny groves and unexpected
dangers lie in wait for the unwary ...
He had to test each branch first. Often they were
slippery, or too skinny to take his weight. So when one skidded
sideways beneath his heel and slid up over his ankle, Joshi thought
nothing of it. He simply moved his foot sideways, searching for
another, more stable foothold. But the slippery branch moved sideways,
too; almost as if it were following him.
Then it coiled sinuously around his calf.
Joshi gasped and looked down. It wasn't a branch - it
was the bronze scaly arm of a hectapus!
For a moment time seemed to stand still, Joshi was
frozen in fear. Just his eyes moved and what they observed only
compounded his sense of doom. The creature seemed to be everywhere.
Its slimy orange body hung six feet below him like some vile, overripe
fruit, while the rest of it - a vast tangle of impossibly long,
boneless tentacles - was knotted around almost every branch in
sight; some even disappeared all the way around the massive tree
trunk. But its body was the worst part. The small fish-like eyes
were fixed hungrily on Joshi, and its toothy mouth opened and closed
with a wet hissing and clicking sound.