Blog tour: ‘Mountainfell,’ by Katharine Orton, cover by Sandra Dieckmann.

If you are looking for a crisp, magical adventure to snuggle down with, look no further than the latest tale from Katherine Orton. Her writing is always exquisite and guaranteed to transport you right into the heart of the story.

Katharine’s also written a special piece about what inspired the host of wonderful, fearsome creatures who dwell on the mountain. What do you think might lurk there?

‘There is nothing more dangerous than magic…

Eleven-year-old Erskin is used to danger; she lives in the shadow of Mountainfell, a place of wild creatures and dangerous magic. When the most powerful and deadly creature of all – the fearsome cloud dragon – snatches Erskin’s sister away, Erskin must face her greatest fear and journey onto the mountain to bring her back. A terrible power is stirring, and it is up to Erskin to save both her family and her home.’

‘Inventing Magical Creatures, Part Two – Diving into Dreams’ by Katharine Orton.

No one who has been to Mountainfell has ever returned to tell the tale – apart from the few who crossed it hundreds of years ago in order to make a new home on the other side. And those first settlers of the small village they called Lofotby brought tales with them that were, let’s just say… not encouraging. Tales of dangerous, magical creatures and, worst of all, the fearsome, flesh-eating cloud dragon.

So, I had invented a mountain, and I had invented a mythology. Brilliant! All I needed to do next was decide what would actually live there.

Erm… ?

Sitting down to think about it this conundrum, I realised I’d given myself a literal mountain to contend with. A whole mountain! Really, what couldn’t live there? I decided early on that anything goes, but that I would need some rules – guidelines, at the very least. So, when it came to the magical powers of the creatures on Mountainfell, I made up my mind that these would be mostly based around survival. What skills would they have developed in order to live in this place? Invisibility, to help them hide – or catch prey? The ability to teleport? Perfect for a chasm-dwelling bat who needed to dodge falling rocks and catch insects.

So far, so good. However, I knew that the creatures of Mountainfell, though based on real animals, needed to be not just a little bit unusual, but very unusual. So I also turned to the place where my imagination gets to run its wildest: my dreams.

Have you ever had the dream where you can fly? Or breathe underwater? Those were some of my best loved dreams and I’ve remembered them for years and years. But I also used to have another – about fish that swim through the air. This was one of those truly joyful experiences where I woke up and immediately wanted to go back to sleep again, because it was so much fun. And I knew when I wrote Mountainfell that I finally had a place to put this idea. The flying fish became ‘airfisk’. And they’re not the only creature to come from dreams.

If anyone has ever watched the film The NeverEnding Story (or read the book it’s based on) you will have met Falcor, the luck dragon. He is beautiful and glossy, with a ringing, joyous laugh, and at one point the main character gets to ride on his back and fly! This led to many, many daydreams, and to be perfectly honest I’ve been longing to ride a dragon ever since – or at the very least write about it.

Not to give too much away, but in writing Mountainfell I may have finally got my wish…

Writing is a lot of things, just as reading is. And sometimes it is wish fulfilment, pure and simple. When we read, quite literally, we so often end up living out our dreams.

Books really are portals to whole new worlds – you can travel anywhere from the safety of your armchair. And, as I said, that’s what I love about Katharine’s writing – you’re immediately sucked into Erskin’s world and are right there on the mountainside with her, hiding from critters and searching for her sister.

Readers will love the twists, turns, and magic of Erskin’s adventures and will want a Scrattletak of their very own to stow in their school bags! A glorious tale about embracing your differences, the wonder of nature, and a quest to save all you hold dear. 9+


*Many thanks to Walker Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*

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