I am a writer of speculative fiction, my favorite genre to read and write and I’m not alone! If you’re unfamiliar with the genre, think of TV programs like Bewitched, or books like The Time Machine by HG Wells or Jules Verne’s, Around The World In Eighty Days, or movies, such as Interstellar, or Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. What you’re looking at is, extraordinary things happening to everyday people. What I love about speculative fiction, is by, ‘willingly suspending your disbelief’ (Konstantin Stanislavski), you can take the short step from reality to credible fiction.
Writing speculative fiction was a natural fit for me, as a down to earth person interested in science and the spiritual side of life. My head rationalizes, while my heart tells me to be accepting, and therein lies the challenging world within the pages of my books.
I was brought up in the north of London in the ’60s. My father and mother worked in animation by day and were jazz musicians by night. I was sent to an experimental school (the clues in the title) with the freedom to attend classes or, go outside and play. Surprisingly, I loved to learn, but with the curriculum based around phonetic spelling, art, and the decisions of children prioritized, I was academically ill-equipped when my family moved to the southwest of England to Devon and I was enrolled in a traditional school.
As you may imagine my parents were very liberal in their upbringing of myself, my older brother, and my younger sister. Therefore, I look back with a certain fondness and relief, when I recall at the age of six being allowed to walk half a mile to the local cinema accompanied by my seven-year-old brother, to watch re-runs of Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, and every wacky B movie. I watched in awe and developed a love for everyday people handling the extraordinary.
I wrote the Neath A Pilgrim Chronicles, because of my great love for ‘balance’. I have been an integral part of the lives, of the haves and have nots; having worked for some years with billionaires and then volunteering with the Hospice Care charity. During my time, I’ve witnessed unspeakable selfishness and humbling generosity at both ends of the spectrum.
I spent some years living and working on the east coast in Manhattan and Long Island and on the west coast in Southern California and in Jura on the east side of France– it was an invaluable education and one that gave me a perspective I was lacking before. Living outside the UK meant, I was compelled to test my metal. In the UK, I was entitled to the National Health Service and financial support, if, I stumbled and fell in life – which I had a perfect talent for. Being outside of the UK with no safety net, meant the buck stopped with me. I discovered what I was capable of, and I will always be grateful to those countries for giving me the opportunity to discover what I am made of (which at the time was 50% terror + 50% determination). My two girls and my husband decided it was time for some continuity both mentally and physically and so we moved back to the UK.
When developing the character of Pilgrim, I decided on a strong female protagonist, with flaws but who has the will and skills to influence change in people. Pilgrim levels the playing field between the privileged few and the many, in a way that cannot be adulterated. Pilgrim is just trying to live in a world that’s constantly kicking her arse – the difference is, she kicks back!
Pilgrim is a powerful female in every sense of the word. What underpins her character is her self-acknowledgment, she’s not perfect. Pilgrim describes herself simply as, ‘a fast-tracked version of everyone else.’ Baxter, refers to her as a ‘supreme-being’. Pilgrim is human in every way that counts, shes on the side of diversity in all its forms, arguing, ‘it’s only through diversity we learn and understand tolerance, and with that knowledge and experience we are ultimately more enriched’. That said, despite her obvious abilities, she could do with some work, less drinking, smoking, carnal indiscretions, and more patience, trust and self-confidence. Pilgrim has supernatural abilities but these only manifest when her life is threatened. Her life is lived below the polite veneer of society and the people she encounters through her business have a prejudicial belief in their own entitlement. Those people with unlimited wealth, power and nerve, become detached from the everyday machinations of their fellow human beings and in so doing indulge their weaknesses and ambition. What ifs, turn into, ‘I can make that happen;’ and justification becomes superfluous. The Titans, (the main antagonists) are an organization of twelve such people, whose use of eugenics and cloning, is set to supersede our current race. But therein lies the rub – the Titans are determined to save the earth from the exploitation of humankind by only allowing those with the highest IQ to remain. They’re not interested in the physicality, just the mental agility of original thinkers. Undoubtedly, it will vex the reader, as on some pertinent points the Titans goals make sense, what the books explore is where are moral line is, when it comes to the next stage in our evolution, and should we play an active role in its development, or should we simply let Mother Nature take its course – knowing, where it lead us up to this point.
Ultimately, diversity strengthens us, morally, physically, and mentally.
The Neath A Pilgrim Chronicles centers around two business partners, Neath Pilgrim and Henry Baxter. The business they share is storing the secret possessions of their clients and it’s a dangerous business. Pilgrim The Balance, introduces Neath A Pilgrim, a woman with supernatural abilities, and Henry Baxter, a former Valet to the rich and eccentric. In this book we hear from Baxter who details how he met Pilgrim, becomes her business partner, and the challenges they’re forced to overcome to accommodate each other. They’re two of the most unlikely characters to form a relationship; with Pilgrim, who’s supernatural nature has left her socially stunted and a big risk-taker, and Baxter, who is methodical, prudent, and has never taken a risk in his life – up until then. The story follows Baxter as he adapts to the new life he has chosen which takes him far beyond his comfort zone and Pilgrim who is forced to confront what she’s capable of and how her choices impact herself and others.
The books are centered around Pilgrim and Baxter’s business, which is to store and keep hidden the secret possessions of their clients. The commissions they accept for storage are highly lucrative, but also on occasion morally ambiguous.
When they’re asked to store six black pearls, they learn the pearls herald an extinction-level event. They discover the creator of the pearls is a leading member of the Titans; a group of twelve men and women set to bring about the most discriminative evolutionary leap in humankind.
Baxter learns what lies beneath the surface of everyday life and Pilgrim learns why shes the only one of her kind.
Pilgrim and the Geometry of Fear, see Pilgrim and Baxter assume a commission from a dead man. The item for storage proves elusive as they follow its trail across Europe only to discover they’re the ones being hunted and Baxter is deemed expendable. Pilgrim inadvertently exposes Baxter to her preternatural self, resulting in his inception of awareness. Discovering Pilgrim is actually vulnerable, sets Baxter on a path to mitigate the danger to her, knowing he won’t survive. Pilgrim learns of Baxter’s sacrifice too late and in her grief, falls victim to her true nature, quashing the Titan’s plans to harvest her DNA. In the aftermath, we experience hope, as Pilgrim and Baxter’s unlikely friends instigate a plan to salvage and rekindle what remains.
About the Author
I am in the middle of writing the third book in the series, Pilgrim and the Fall of Kings, and loving every minute of it! What could be more exciting than spending time with Pilgrim and Baxter. I’m never sat in front of my computer tapping away on the keyboard, instead, I’m traveling with them to Istanbul, discovering the body frozen underneath the lake, trying to figure out how to get three more minutes of air before Pilgrim drowns – it’s exhausting!
Pandora, was born Claire Pandora Gearty in North London. Aged eighteen, she received her first award for writing and moved to Brussels where she joined the Brussels Shakespeare Company and was involved with broadcasting. She gained an American Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Administrative Management upon her return to the UK.
Pandora has worked and lived outside of the UK for sixteen years, predominately in California, USA for people who feature prominently in the media; this has given her writing an authentic and vital style. In France, she finished her debut novel, The Balance-Pilgrim; published in 2015 which has sold in over nine countries with impressive reviews. She has completed the movie screenplay for The Balance-Pilgrim, edited by L. Smith former Literary Editor for Lucas Film LA. Pilgrim and the Geometry of Fear, released 2016, is to be followed by, Pilgrim and the Fall of Kings, due out in 2020-21.Pandora currently resides in Devon England with her husband and two daughters.