Julie Pike - The Last Spell Breather - Blog Tour (Stories that Inspired)

Welcome to the second week celebrating the brilliant publication of Julie Pike's debut book. we're delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Last Spell Breather which is a fantastic read. I wholeheartedly recommend you spare the time to read it. This post is about the stories that might have led to inspiring this book.

If you were to write a book, blog readers, what stories might influence the novel you would write today? Have a think, it's an interesting question. If you have any thoughts and you would like to share them on Twitter then use #TheLastSpellBreather. 

I would like to thank Julie and Oxford University Press for letting Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books host a stop on this wonderful blog tour. You are always welcome here at any time. 

I hope you enjoy the post. 

I am delighted the Spell Breather blog tour has swung by Mr. Ripley’s Enchanted Books. As you’re reading this web page, you already know that for brilliant books you can’t beat a ‘word of mouth’ recommendation. Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books is a place I have discovered many great books over the years. 

The first person to recommend a book to me was my mother. She introduced me to Enid Blyton when I was six, and happily watched as I devoured as many of her magical adventures as my pocket money would allow. I wrote a sequel to Enid Blyton’s Book of Brownies, because I enjoyed the story so much I wanted to carry on the adventure. I remember writing it with a blue ballpoint pen, on lined A4 paper. When it was done, I tied the pages with grey wool, ‘borrowed’ from my mother’s knitting bag. 

When I was a young teen, Mam introduced me to Georgette Heyer. Her adventure stories were thrilling! One of my favourites is The Masqueraders, where a brother and sister, fleeing from the Jacobite rising, swap clothes and have dangerous adventures in Regency London. I adore her character Prudence, who dresses as a young buck, brazening it out, drinking and duelling. It may seem tame today, but it was written in the 1920s, and I first read it in the 1980s. I love this story. So much so I have written Georgette Heyer fanfiction. 

As an older teen, my brother introduced me to the wonderful Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters. Looking back, it’s no surprise that my first novel should feature a fantasy version of a medieval healer. I didn’t realise at the time, but it’s clear to me now that all the stories I love have found their way into my ‘writer’s cauldron’. I’m sure you know what I mean. My cauldron is the place where all the stories swirl together, synthesising themselves into different shapes, ready for me to ladle out when I’m thinking up new ideas. 

Peering into my cauldron today, I can clearly see three stories that wormed their way into my imagination and wove themselves into The Last Spell Breather.

The first is a The Abhorsen Trilogy, by Garth Nix. I love everything about this story. I love its characters, its large-scale world building, and its unique ‘charter magic’. Reading this story was the first time I’d encountered a cast of creatures and characters perfectly set within their own myths and magic systems, and it lit my imagination like a firework. When I turned the last page, I wanted to carry on the adventure. 

The second is Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. When I was writing an early draft of Spell Breather, my friend Jacqui recommended this brilliant story. It reminded me that books are powerful objects. The words inside have a life of their own, and bad things happen when they’re not looked after properly. 

Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney tells a magical and medieval tale of a boy training to protect his home from witches. Witches so powerful they can outwit his every move. I love a good apprentice story. This one particularly resonates because his Mam has a dark secret. 

Putting these stories together, I can see they share a common theme. A warning about what happens when magic breaks or falls out of balance. This theme is something I wanted to explore in The Last Spell Breather and now I can see what drew me to it. 

Looking into my cauldron again, I’m wondering if every ‘original’ idea in my tale has come from other much-loved stories? Stories like, Magyk by Angie Sage, Sylvester by Georgette Heyer, Labyrinth, Dr Who, A Matter of Life and Death, and Sapphire & Steal. 

I think I’ll give my cauldron a good stir, so I can’t see the ingredients anymore. I prefer my idea ladles brimming with mixed magic. 

Writers often get asked: Where do your ideas come from? I’ve been wondering how I would answer that question. Writing this blog has given me my answer. Ideas come from all the stories that have gone before. We writers pass them on to each other in a glorious story continuum, from one cauldron to another.

If you’d like to write stories, then my advice is to ‘fill your story cauldron’. Fill it with Books, and TV and Films and Video Games – and keep stirring. That way, when you settle to write, the synthesis of all your favourite stories is guaranteed to deliver a ‘unique’ adventure, one that you want to follow and read yourself.

And then one day, YOUR story will be recommended to others. It will go on to fill their writer’s cauldron and take its place in the great continuum. 
Happy reading. Happy writing.

Julie Pike – Biography 
Julie grew up on a council estate, nestled between the forests and foothills of the Welsh Valleys. She is passionate about adventure stories, and volunteers in local schools and libraries in Dorset, helping children find stories that excite them. She is passionate about real-life adventures too, and has crawled inside the great pyramid of Giza, travelled to the peak of Kilimanjaro, and camped on the Great Wall of China in a lightning storm. Twitter: @juliepike

(The Last Spell Breather – Book Cover – illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova)

The Last Spell Breather – Synopsis 
Enter the unique world of the Spell Breathers! Spell Breathing does not come naturally to Rayne - she loathes the hours of practice, the stacks of scrolls, and the snapping mud grotesques that cover her mother’s precious spell book. When she holds the spell book over a fire, it is only meant as an empty threat – until she feels the grotesque’s tiny teeth biting into her finger and lets go. In one clumsy move, her mother’s spells are broken, her village is plunged into danger, and an incredible adventure begins . . . 

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books Book Review is HERE