The Spectres of Winter

The third novel in the Heart of the World series

In a thrilling new adventure Tom Allenby faces a double threat. In the depths of a freezing winter, Harrow Hill school is overrun by a force which can control ice. Meanwhile a super evolved subterranean group emerge with a plan that threatens the whole world. Trapped and isolated can Tom and his friends overcome the dangers in time?  Or will the Spectres of Winter win?

This is the third novel in the Heart of the World series set in the village of Rooksbourne where the world’s natural energy is stored. Using an ancient rock called the Earthstone, Tom Allenby can control the elements but has much to learn as he takes on powerful figures who have their own powers.

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Introduction to The Spectres of Winter

There is something incredibly beautiful about a snow covered winter yet it can also be a dangerous season and I wanted to capture this in the book. I’ve had the plot for a long time- probably since around 2005- so I’m pleased to finally have released it into the world. I wanted to go back to the sort of winters we don’t get as often now, at least not where I live. I remember as a child trying to make my way through knee deep snow and everywhere was covered in it!

The season in this book is full of serious snow, slippery ice and frost covered woods. It’s a place where at first it feels as if you’re trapped by the cold and then you realise you actually are! It’s a story about a group of characters caught in a dangerous situation doing their best and having to rely on each other. Who can they trust? Who is behind the whole thing? And can they run quickly enough?!

For Tom Allenby it presents a new challenge just as he is learning to use his powers more easily. Whatever he thinks he knows about the elemental world, he discovers there is more he doesn’t know.  

I wrote the final draft during the winter of 2015-6 which wasn’t actually that bad but there were certainly some very cold days so it was easy to conjure up the freezing conditions depicted in the story.

Hopefully whatever time of the year you read it, the novel will give you some chills as well!

Promotional post from Authoramp

The Spectres of Winter – Under The Ice

NB Best not to look below here until you’ve read the novel unless you want to be well and truly spoilered!

  • The Spectres of Winter is set in early February, just over six months after Elemental and three months after Living Things.

  • Other titles considered for the book were: The Wolves of  Winter,  Under the Midnight Snow, Icebound

  • The subterraneans are based on evolved badgers who have grown taller, slimmed out and become quite agile as well as being dangerous. And if you don’t imagine a badger could be scary then take a look at a picture of a honey badger!

  • The idea for the ice wall was inspired partly from an old Doctor Who story The Deamons where a village is cut off by a heat barrier and also the Pink Floyd tour The Wall where the band gradually built a wall between themselves and the audience as the show progressed. 

  • The ice creatures went through several different ideas and at one stage were snowmen but that has been done before in a few things so I opted for skeletal ice creatures instead.

  • New characters in the book include Mr Marlow, the headmaster. Often I have in mind a particular actor when thinking of some of these adult roles and for Marlow I thought of Anton Lesser. 

  • Malvane was originally going to be called Screer then for a long time he was named Rascallion.

  • He is enormous fun to write because unlike the other antagonists in the previous books or even in this book, he is thoroughly evil!  It was his gloved hand that picked up the crystal weapon at the end of Elemental during one of his early trips overground.

  • Danny Pryor has been briefly in the other books but has a much bigger role in this one. He was Jake’s sidekick earlier and in fact appears in the very first chapter of Elemental. Since Jake has turned his back on the gang, Danny has taken over. I wanted to develop the idea that they had been friends since they were five so have a sort of bond that events since cannot break. Danny is not as clever as Jake and worries about life after school.

  • Ollie Porter was added into one scene in Living Things at the last minute just to establish he was around.

  • Professor Andoh is a glaciologist who arrives to investigate the wall. This character went through several drastic changes starting off as an eccentric German man! I realised there were fewer female characters in the book so Professor Heinricke turned into Professor Andoh, a woman of African heritage with a very loud voice and enthusiasm for her work. She is an old friend of Professor Tyrell.

  • By a strange coincidence, long after I’d written about moving ice, the company that runs this website offered new video backgrounds meaning I could actually have moving ice on this page!

  • The idea for the subterraneans’ city was to have a mixture of the primitive and the more advanced to show how their `super evolution` had happened quite quickly. The dwellings are all made of materials produced underground or woven by the loomer spiders.

  • In an earlier draft they also had furnaces and workshops but I cut these out as they related to a climax that was also deleted.

  • Some of the inspiration for the look of the underground dwellings came from the Planet of the Apes films.

  • The issue of Badger culls referred to in the book is a controversial one. Many farmers believe badgers are the main cause of infection amongst cattle while animal rights campaigners believe culling any animal is wrong.

  • One whole plot line that was removed involved what Tom and Kyle encounter in the woods when they sneak out of the school to investigate the hole. This was to be a separate threat which in the end I realised was one too many. Plus it makes more sense for all of the dangers in the woods to be generated by the same power.

  • The identity of the antagonist in the basement was also changed. Originally the power in the basement was going to be the remains of the custodian from Elemental after it had been separated again from Mrs Brackley. Then I changed it to be a different custodian who had been defeated in a battle centuries ago. In the end I decided having another child would be more interesting.

  • William Taplow is named after a character in the classic novel The Browning Version. I played about with different decades before deciding he was from the 1960s. I did like the idea of him being from the 1980s but this might have got in the way plus he would probably have had to have had a mullet haircut!

  • The final confrontation between Tom and Malvane originally took place in the subterranean’s furnace after the latter kidnapped Amber. However I realised this didn’t quite make sense as how would Tom know where to go and it also meant he had to undertake a return journey down below. So I changed it to the confrontation in the woods which also meant I could give Danny a strong moment too. You can read the other version of the climax in the Deleted Scenes (see below)

  • The scenes at the end were very late additions to add what I felt was a more personal finish. The dialogue between Tom and Melissa originally took place in a classroom.

  • Will Malvane return? Well he’s out there somewhere and he is very dangerous….

Deleted Scenes

In the PDF below are a number of scenes cut from the book for various reasons.

The Spectres of Winter Deleted Scenes

Blue Sky Black
The fourth Heart of the World novel
When Tom Allenby, the 14 year old boy who can control the elements, sees metal objects and cars rising into the air one night he knows he is facing a powerful enemy. The trail leads to stolen magnetic stones, sinister experiments in an old country house, and a village hiding a secret. As each of his friends faces challenges of their own, can Tom fight a force which knows all about them? Somehow they must overcome what divides to stop the world being plunged into crisis.
Published August 2018
Paperback and Kindle version available here

An introduction to Blue Sky Black

It’s been nine months since the events of The Spectres of Winter and during that time Tom Allenby has turned fourteen and is now in his second year living in Rooksbourne. We re-join him in November as his year’s football team lose a match 5 -0. This is soon the least of his worries however as he witnesses a night-time incident which causes cars to rise up into the air and metal objects to whirl around in a vortex. This is the first of several magnetic disturbances affecting the area which Tom finds are almost too powerful for him to deal with. What is causing them?

Meanwhile there is plenty of activity in the supposedly abandoned Ravensthorpe Hall. A team of environmentalists, a girl floating in a bubble and overgrown animals are encountered by Jake and out of towner Emma as they look to take valuable items before the place is demolished. Both Amber and Kyle face challenges of their own while the trail leads Tom to the village of Marston Hill whose inhabitants protect secret abilities.

Tom and his friends have to face birds that fire light, a deadly mist and a powerful stone circle as they struggle to prevent an astonishing plan that threatens the whole world.

Deleted scenes

Here’s some scenes that were cut from the novel

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