Today I am once again able to feature a very unique and special book. And to help me introduce it to you, I have the title character from the book with me. Benjamin McTish, let's start off with a few questions to get to know you better.
We'll begin with an easy one. Tell me about yourself? What is your occupation? Why? What are your strengths & weaknesses?
Well, my name is Benjamin McTish and I’m fourteen...so no occupation as such in the traditional sense of the word. I do lend a hand to my grandmother in her garden from time to time. And, well, I really don’t like to talk about this, but I kinda have this ability to know things...I suppose people call is a sixth sense, or ESP or something, I call it weird...although I’m getting used to it.
What’s your family like and how does your upbringing affect you now?
My parents are both scientist. My dad, Avery, is a Marine Biologist and my mum, Gwyneth is a Botanist. They travel a lot...actually, for a while they made certain one of them remained home with me, but then their work just got bigger and more important, so I went to live with my grandparents. My parents came home for visits as often as they could, until...well, until they stopped. We’re not certain where either of them is right now, but I’m sure they’ll get in touch with me as soon as they can.
What is your earliest childhood memory?
That’s easy, it’s of my father coming home after he had been sailing off the coast of Australia, (although I didn’t know that at the time), anyway, he brought home a right perfect bit of coral. He made a shelf for me out of a piece of driftwood that he sanded and polished and he put the coral on the shelf and told me only to look at it and not touch it until I got older, so I wouldn’t cut myself, or break it. I have the shelf filled with all his treasures from all the years of him bringing me special bits. Oh, and it didn’t matter my age, I still cut myself the first time I picked it up to look at it closer.
Well, speaking of special objects, if you could pick an item, any tangible object, to represent you, what would you pick and why?
I suppose it would have to be a piece of bark...a tiny switch I gathered from the Grandfather Tree. That’s where my world was forever changed.
Interesting! Tell us what your first impression of your heroine was?
Well, again, I’m only fourteen so there really is no heroine in my life, well, actually that isn’t completely true, but in order to explain myself, too much of the story would be given away...let me just say this, she is a Warrior, and a crackin good lookin one too!
What do you like about the heroine?
Since I can’t talk about the woman I’m referring to, then let me say this...Annabel and Mathilda Wickcliff would have to do as the real heroines of this story anyway. They’re my best mates and the three of us took this journey together...I couldn’t have done half of what I did without them. They came from America to live next door to my grandparents and they’re the most brilliant mates a guy could ask for, even if they are girls.
Yes, even if they're girls [narrows eyes]. Benjamin McTish, what is it that you want out of life?
Himm..that’s a good one. I suppose I would have to say justice and Truth. For people to stand up for themselves and those they love and to understand just how much we all affect each other and our world.
I really want to talk about that.
If you had an unexpected free day, what would you do with it?
Oh, well, after the adventure I’ve been on, everyday is free to me!
Aside from your secret heroine, tell me about your best friend.
Again, as I said, Annabel and Mathilda are both the best mates you could imagine. They’re quirky and smart...Mathilda can bloody well sing, she’s brilliant, truly, I can’t sing a note. And Annabel is brilliant for real! She’s smarter than anyone I know, I’m really lucky to have her on my side. And they both make me laugh, especially Mathilda. She has this funny way with words, I mean, she uses other languages and mixes them all up, it’s clever good fun. And when she comes up with some of her ideas, Annabel and I just look at each other and laugh...how in the world did she come up with that? And in the end...she’s always bloody right!! It’s amazing!
If you owned a CB radio what would your "handle" be? What would your heroine’s be?
I’m sorry, but I’m not quite certain what a CB radio is, and I certainly don’t know what a handle is..so you’ll have to forgive me this one.
Nevermind. It was just a silly question anyway. How about this one instead, what CD is in your CD player right now?
Oh, that would be The Blues Billies...I borrowed it from Mathilda..of course!
Speaking of Mathilda, she has just joined us with a friend. Please introduce yourself and tell us about yourself. Like, what is your occupation? Strengths, weaknesses?
Hi, I’m Mathilda Wickcliff and this is my sister Annabel. I’m eleven and my sister Bellie is fourteen, so we don’t have no occupations. But Bellie tells really good stories and sometimes I stand on the coffee table and pretend I’m Lady Gaga and sing and dance for her.
Yeah, Tildie is a really good singer, seriously you gotta hear her sometime. But me, I like to do puzzles and read. I love to read. I like mysteries and things that make me think of other ways to do something.
Yeah, she’s always got her face buried in some book. But she’s really smart, so maybe that’s a good thing.
What’s your family like, ladies, and how does your upbringing affect you now?
Well we moved here from Boston. Our da grew up here in Grandlochcheshire so he really was excited to come back here to live. Our mom is really cool and pretty and she’s crazy in love with da...they’re always smooching and stuff!
Don’t forget about Cubby Tildie.
Oh yeah, Cubby is our Golden Retriever and he’s crazy about mom too.
What is your earliest childhood memory?
I don’t think I have an early childhood memory? Bellie do I have one?
Tildie, how would I know, that’s the whole point goof ball, it’s your first memory of your life.
Oh, well, I don’t know what I remember do you?
I remember when they brought Cubby home, I was three, and he was the cutest little ball of golden fur. We were best friends from that moment. That is until they brought you home, then you became my best friend.
I asked Benjamin this one. If you could pick any tangible item to represent you, what would you pick?
Tildie, it means something you can touch or hold on too. Like mine would probably be a book.
Oh, I guess mine would be my green high top Converse with the sparkly purple laces, huh Bellie?
Yeah, that would be a good one Tildie.
Or should it be my pink tutu, which do you think?
I think they’re both good Tildie.
Okay, I’ll just say my sneakers!
I'm pretty sure this is the first time a guest has said green high top Converses with the sparkly purple laces are a symbol for them. [Aside: "Freud would have a field day with that." Clears throat.] I'm almost afraid to ask this next one...describe your hero. What was your first impression of him and did it change over time?
Our Hear-oh! Wow! Bellie...
I’m sure that would have to be Benjamin of course! There’s no one like him on the whole planet.
Oh, yeah, Benjamin...good one Bellie! Oh remember, we thought he was a pervy or something staring out of his spy glasses down at Mrs. Longpotts? That’s when we first saw him, out my bedroom window watching Mrs. Longpotts through his glasses. That was pretty funny.
Yeah, it took all of about a minute before Mathilda was pulling me out the door to go meet him. We became friends instantly.
I see. Is there anything about Benjamin that you would consider a flaw?
What does that mean Bellie, like something wrong with Benjamin?
Not really wrong, just not perfect.
Oh, well that’s easy, he’s the worst singer ever!
Yeah, she’s got a point there, he’s pretty tone deaf.
Mathilde, Annabel, what is it that each of you wants out of life?
I want to be a famous singer and dancer!
I think they want to know more about your insides Bellie, not what you actually want to be.
My insides? Himm...the only thing I can think of is just being with my family always. You know, like never having fights or being far away from each other. I want to grow up and live next door to Bellie.
Has life handed you any major disappointments?
Well, now. That's a refreshing answer! Just two more ladies. If you had an unexpected free day, what would you do with it?
Aren’t all days free Bellie?
I guess it depends on what you do with it.
How true! Last one! What CD is in your CD player right now?
Oh that’s easy, it’s the Blue’s Billies.
No, you loaned that one to Benjamin Tildie, remember?
Oh yeah. Well then I guess it’s empty right now.
Well, ladies, thank you very much! That was a very unique and interesting interview!
About Benjamin McTish and the Door Through the Grandfather Tree
There is local legend in the small town of Grandlochcheshire that has been passed down for a 100 years about the mysterious disappearance of the Chickering family, that trails on the coat tails of the equally shocking abduction of the Skeffington Union Rails heirs, Connor and Shelbe. The circumstances that follow this notorious tale enter into the modern world of Benjamin and his two best mates.
One day Benjamin watches from behind the Rhododendron as a mysterious little woman steps out of a taxi in front of the cream colored house with the forest green trim next door and in one synchronistic moment their eyes lock and a series of visual snippets of unfamiliar events unfold in his mind’s vision. His razor sharp sixth sense allows him the freedom to explore the extrasensory messages coming at him in a frenzied speed, like a derailed freight train.
And when Benjamin finds a peculiar old relic of a key in his grandmother’s garden shed, he could never know his world was about to change forever.
Annabel and Mathilda, two sisters who have moved to Grandlochcheshire from America, have become more than mere friends to Benjamin, they have all become the three Muskydeers (Mathilda’s mispronounced version of Musketeers, which was a huge laugh and of course it stuck), as they are plunged head first into this curious journey.
In the Gilley Forest they discover that the path they have chosen is inundated with many obstacles as well as intrigue. Alliances are made with the Forest clan of Gnomes known as the Set, and with the aid of the Vila sisters, Sethina and Morel, as well as some surprising and unexpected allegiances, the three friends take on the test that is the Grandfather Tree. They must stay on the pre ordained Path of prophecy, portended by the ancient seer Pajah Set, whose ancestry comes from the home of the oldest living beings on the planet, the Elves of the Darmon However, this is no easy task for the Muskydeers as they have the foulest of sorcery hunting their every move, the powerful dark beauty known to all as Tar Vigorn.
This ruthless Queen is not without humor however, and loves a good game of cat and mouse, as long as she’s the cat. With her biting sense of sarcasm and calculated taunting, she knows just how to unnerve the young Benjamin. Her phantom army known as the Blunt are searching for a way into the Grand Tree and will stop at nothing to infiltrate the pristine world beneath his giant roots.
Once in Coranim the children make the acquaintance of the greatest Medicine Elder alive, Esmerelda Fet. A most powerful Light Sorceress with a brazen in your face attitude and a thick Irish brogue, who guides the trio on their Path of destiny. “All tings be possible ya wee chil’ren, if’en ya put yer mind to it! Thar be nothin ya can’t accomplish. Ya just need ta be placin all yer carage inta tha middle of yer core whar yer Spirit shines…an ya can do anythin! Ha!”
Filled with many wonders, and home to the Fet clan of Gnomes, Coranim is a magical world of art, sound, thought, invention and discovery….and home to the World Library of Identity, with none other than Dunston Tibbitts at the helm.
Every being on the planet has a book dedicated to the entirety of their lives. Dunston reports to Benjamin, “according to what I see here now, this very minute, whatever it is that you are seeking will show itself today and change your Path immediately. It will put you into a whole new dynamic as they say.”
What could alter the overpowering trajectory Benjamin has followed to Coranim? How will it change his life?
Find out as our three heroes delve into the mystic, as well as their own inner character, as you watch from the edge of your seat.
Book Two, Benjamin Mctish and the Wizards of Coranim, coming 2013
Well, that’s very odd, thought Benjamin. He had never noticed the peculiar looking key, hanging from a very worn and tattered green ribbon, on the rusted nail in the garden shed before. The garden shed was not a traditional shed in the least. Even though the walls were constructed from very old worn out wood, the interesting element was the solid glass roof. It was a very unusual version of a greenhouse, and the permanent home of the most rare and beautiful of begonias, grown by his grandmother Emmagene. It also doubled as Benjamin’s secret hideaway.
The design was one of a kind, built by his grandfather, Owen McTish, way back before Benjamin was even born. The wood came from an old abandoned farm on the outskirts of town. The remnants from the farm had sat in the big fields on the edge of the Gilley Forest for close to a hundred years or more now. The property was part of a long forgotten estate that had iron clad deeds and legalities making it impossible to tear down. Save for some wood that was sold off at auction, (which was now the main body of structure to the McTish garden shed), along with some rusted antique barnyard equipment, nothing had been touched in all these long years. The passed down rumors of the mysteries surrounding the Chickering farm was still local legend with all the residents, but especially with the children, in the small town of Grandlochcheshire.
And here he was now, sitting in the garden shed built of the same wood that had housed the infamous Chickerings all those long years ago, staring at a mysterious key.
Benjamin sat upright from his perch on top of the pile of burlap bags that covered the mound of hay his grandmother stored in the shed for new seedling cover and stared up in utter disbelief at the mysterious key.
His grandmother enjoyed the smell of fresh hay, as it reminded her of her youth on her family’s horse ranch. This resulted in her always keeping much more hay than she truly needed under the burlap, making this a particularly cozy little spot for Benjamin to lounge about. As an added attraction, it also happened to be in direct sight of the door and most of the surroundings, and proved to be the perfect lookout for any uninvited guests.
Benjamin whipped his head around quickly and scanned the shed for any movement. Nothing out of the ordinary, no one else around, no sounds of any kind, he thought. He sat still and stared into the air before him, going into his deeper mind to hunt down an answer. After a moment he continued his search around the room.
The light coming in from the glass ceiling was soft and dark grey as it was about to rain. This added a touch of anxiety to the moment, as Benjamin’s all too familiar feeling of questioning arose. Everything appeared to look the same as it did every other day that he could remember...except for that confounding and peculiar key! The hairs on Benjamin’s arms stood straight up and a flush washed over his entire body and he knew something big was about to happen.
Benjamin had the ability to know things that other people never realized. He knew secrets about people, their inner workings, even before they knew about it themselves. It wasn’t like he could see dead people, or tell you what you had hidden in your pocket, or anything like this. It was more about sensing things. He had gut feelings, but in a bigger more expanded way. He was rather good at telling you when your Aunt Gertie was going to show up at your door, or where to look for the lost cat. However, he was really good at knowing if something was significant or not, if something needed a further or deeper exploration.
It had always been this way for Benjamin. When something was about to occur he always had a warning it was coming. The hair on his arms stood up and an extremely powerful tingling from the bottom of his toes would rush up over his body. His heart would pound and a little sweat would instantly gather on his face and neck. His breathing would speed up and his eyes would widen in anxious search of the source of his alertness. Many times these sensations came with lightning rapid visions and sounds. And always attached to these pictures was a deeply felt emotion clinging along for the ride.
Benjamin hesitantly turned back around slowly, like he was moving through thick syrup and stared at the hanging piece of tarnished metal. He had a very uneasy feeling about this key. In all his years of living with his grandparents he had never seen the key dangling in the shed. Nor, in fact, had he seen its equal or anything remotely close to this anywhere in the whole of the household.
He estimated the key was somewhere around nine inches in length and looked as old as the hills...Or the Gilley Forest, came the distant thought to Benjamin for an unexplained instant. It was intricately designed with marks that Benjamin couldn’t make out from where he was sitting.
An impending alarm flooded Benjamin’s mind as he began his slow concise descent off the mound of burlap covered hay. He inched his way toward the foreign old relic of a key. The key with a worn out tattered green ribbon to match, that hung from an equally rusted old nail pounded soundly into the beam of the garden shed, that was home to Benjamin McTish and all that he knew.
As Benjamin approached the key he couldn’t take his eyes off of it. It was like a magnetic beam was pulling him closer and closer to his target. Benjamin reached up on his toes and removed the key from its mysterious home on the old nail. The weight of the key surprised Benjamin, he hadn’t expected it to be as heavy as it was. He turned it around and around in his hands, studying every line of the design. When suddenly, by accident, he noticed that at a certain angle when he looked at it almost sideways there appeared to be...words!
Words and symbols in some kind of extraordinary language that Benjamin had never seen before. Benjamin’s heart started racing and his breathing grew louder. His eyes widened and he quickly took the key over to the potting bench in the middle of the shed. The bench stood immediately under the huge expanse of window ceiling and in between two other tables that were filled with pots and dirt. He laid the key on the top near the corner, in the strong growing light of the imminent storm.
The eerie cast that the light makes when it is so bright, yet dark at the same time, gave illumination to the key on the table’s edge. The table was a perfect height for Benjamin to scrunch on down with his hands on his knees at eye level with the key. He marched back and forth, squatting and repositioning himself for every possible discoverable view of this curious relic without actually touching it. This small, yet significant, distance gave solace to Benjamin as he went deep into dissecting thought.
Just as he was about to pick up the key to examine it closer for details, the door of the shed flew open. A burst of exuberant and animated voices came at him so fiercely that he jumped from the sudden fright, scratching his shoulder on the edge of the table behind him.
“Blast it!” he groaned.
Quickly recognizing the voices of his two best mates, Annabel and Mathilda, he grabbed the key with stealth speed and put it in his back pocket. He pulled his jumper over the protruding end of the key to hide it and turned around to see what the commotion was about.
There was Annabel in her familiar flower-printed rubber cowboy boots and her younger sister Mathilda in her ever more familiar lavender tutu, with today’s addition of a yellow, red and green plaid rain slicker and hat. All her wild orange curls were peeking out everywhere around her face and she held something tightly in her closed up fist. The girls were in the middle of a heavy debate.
“....and it always does,” Mathilda was saying in mid sentence.
“That’s not true,” Annabel defended vehemently, “Where do you get these ideas from anyway, you’re just too weird for words Tildie. I mean it. You really are starting to bug me. I just wish you would find some friends your own age already, as if anyone would be friends with you, and leave me alone!” shouted Annabel with force as she kept walking towards Benjamin.
With this, Mathilda stopped dead in her tracks and looked up as her sister walked away from her. Her eyes began to instantly fill with huge blinding hot tears. Benjamin could see Mathilda beginning to lose it completely and he could also see the rage in Annabel’s trudge towards him. He made a small gesture with his eyes for Annabel to turn around. However, before Annabel could understand what Benjamin’s coded expression meant, Mathilda’s sweet little round face was rapidly contorting. With this her little shoulders were bouncing up and down from the weight of her silent wailing.
This was the kind of crying that one makes when the hurt is so sudden that your brain can’t react as fast as your body. Instantly your eyes fill up and closed all at once.
Unprompted, Mathilda’s clenched fist opened and the three gum balls that had been held prisoner, loosened their stickiness in slow motion and fell to the ground, leaving dots of candy flavored red, green and white imprints on her sweaty palm. She held her stiff sticky little rainbow colored hand open like it was something defective and unattached to her. Her rain hat was falling down over her forehead from the jiggling of her bouncing shoulders. And then with all the force of her tiny little person...it came. A huge pile of hurt rushing out of her mouth and filling the room, instantly covering Annabel in shame.
When Annabel finally turned around and saw the incredible anguish of her words, her heart practically popped out of her body. She ran with urgency back to her sister and fell to her knees.
Wrapping her arms around Mathilda she urged, “Oh Tildie, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean it...really, I didn’t mean it. Please Tildie, you know I love you. Please stop crying.”
Benjamin stood behind Annabel and attempted to help the situation by reassuring Mathilda that she was indeed his best mate, equal only to her sister Annabel, and he couldn’t imagine one without the other.
“Blimey Tildie, we’re the THREE Muskydeers ein’t we?” offered Benjamin.
Finally the gentle coaxing of love from her sister began to slow Mathilda’s seemingly relentless sobbing. Now she had hiccups mixed in with gentle sobs and loads of snot. Annabel took her own sweater sleeve, spit on it a little, picked up Mathilda’s sticky hand and wiped it. Mathilda whimpered through a very runny nose and all the wetness of tears and snot caused a big slobber bubble when she spoke, making the word gum balls come out gum bowls instead.
“I di.dent know...B.Bellie...I just...oh no! I dr..dropped the gum bowls...I’m s..sorry Bellie...”
Attempting not to giggle, Annabel assured her baby sister with a small smile, “Ssshh Tildie, it’s okay, we can just wipe them off, it will be fine.”
Benjamin nodded in reassurance from his end.
Annabel wiped her sister’s tears and her profoundly running nose with the back of her sweater sleeve and propped her rain hat back up on her head. Then the sisters leaned in, resting their foreheads against each other, they looked deeply into one another’s eyes for a very long moment. Slowly a small smile started to grow between them. With this Mathilda threw her arms around Annabel’s neck and Benjamin exhaled a deep breath of relief.
The Wickcliff girls were the most truest and best mates that Benjamin ever had, without exception. It had been almost a year since he sat in his bedroom window and watched in curious amusement as the moving van unloaded the entirety of the Wickcliff belongings into the two story cream house with the forest green trim, next door to his grandparents.
June lives with her soon to be husband and best friend Ray, his youngest son and their two dogs, seven chickens and two ducks, in Santa Cruz Ca. Ray’s two older kids live respectively in LA and San Francisco.
You can find BENJAMIN McTISH AND THE DOOR THROUGH THE GRANDFATHER TREE here:
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