Hello 2020! You were a long time coming but you are finally here – the year my debut children’s novel, ELSETIME, finally hits the shelves! A sneak peek at its stunning cover (OMG!) on New Year’s Eve made me realise – YES! This is actually going to happen!
I admit that, until the moment I set eyes on the cover art, the idea that my book would soon be in the hands of readers didn’t feel real, but there is no denying that the tragic event on which ELSETIME is based was very, very real indeed. For it was on this night, the 6th January, that The Great Flood of London occurred in 1928.
Ninety-two years ago, at the source of the River Thames, families enjoyed a snowy Christmas akin to picture-perfect postcards. But, quick as a wink, the snow thawed, sending torrents of water along streams and brooks that fed the Thames. A deluge of rain in the days that followed raised the level of the great river higher and higher as it twisted and turned its way towards the bustling centre of London and out towards the sea.
As Londoners partied away the Twelfth Day of Christmas, or snuggled their loved ones into bed in old basement flats, the raging river met its match: a powerful storm in the North Sea. At the turn of the tide, waves swelled so high at the mouth of the Thames, beyond anything they had ever seen before. Seawater tunnelled its way up the river, clashing with the deluge of snowmelt and rainwater. X marked the spot where the river narrowed and its depth deepened following foolish dredging to allow passage to larger ships. Not long after midnight, the embankment walls near the Tate Gallery (now the Tate Britain) gave way.
“Daggers of moonlight pierced down on wave after wave as they heaved over the embankment wall, each racing fast as a panicked horse. Motorcars were tossed aside, debris thrashed and smashed together in clumps.” ELSETIME
For one night in 1928, the roaring twenties became the raging twenties as the ferocious river stole the homes of four-thousand people and, most tragically, the lives of fourteen souls.
Icy cold water raced down stone steps and into the homes of poor basement dwellers, trapping them before they even knew of their fate. Muddy water inundated the basement galleries of the Tate Gallery, destroying many fine pieces of art, including several priceless Turner works. Big Ben was surrounded, the Underground submerged. The moat at the Tower of London filled for the first time in nearly a century.
Of course, it took many years for London to recover and a lifetime for those who lost loved ones. It was decades more before the great Thames Barrier was finally installed, and, thankfully, there it still stands, protecting the Twelfth Day of Christmas party-goers and children tucked up in their beds on this night, the 6th January, 2020.
Wishing you all a happy and, above all, safe and sound New Year.
ELSETIME, published June 2020 by Everything With Words
Twelve-year-old Needle Luckett digs long-lost, forgotten things from the mud and pebbles of the River Notion, transforming them into treasures to behold. Holding the muddy finds in the palm of his hand, he can feel their wild stories of times-past until, one icy cold day, he unearths something peculiar: it’s treasure from the future – a future where the most precious find of all might be forever lost, or forever found.
I cannot wait for you to meet Needle and an impetuous jeweller’s apprentice called Glory Bobbin; a crow named Magpie and a hard-nosed taskmaster; a distinguished inventor and a deadly flood – all living their lives in Inthington Town just a stone’s throw from each other but with many decades between.