Through Quentaris - Karen Brooks
Having already read a number of the Quentaris books before I was invited
to write one myself, I found the idea of this self-contained world
that, nonetheless, had access to and could be influenced and changed
by endless possibilities (encapsulated by the rifts) fascinating.
Furthermore, it was intriguing to be asked to bounce off someone else’s
imagination. Here I was being given entree into a world that Michael
and Paul had created and permission to contribute as well. What a
gift. But it has a catch. It’s like being given a framed not-quite-blank
canvas and asked to paint a picture that will be in keeping, not only
with the frame, but with the entire gallery. And let’s face
it, some great artists are already hanging in the Quentaris exhibition.
The idea for the story of Adyren came to me literally one night as
I was going to sleep. I was staying with some dear friends in Bendigo,
Victoria - a place I lived in for over eleven years. I don’t
know whether it was because of the invocation of (good and bad) memories
that returning to past abodes encourages, or that I both have and
originate from a blended family, but the idea of family and all it
signifies started to take root and wouldn’t let go. By the following
morning, the twins and the play on mirror images, were in my mind
as were most of the other characters. I can think of little worse
than being accused of something you haven’t done or being thought
something you’re not (unless it’s good!). So those notions
found their way into the story too. Finally, I was still writing the
first part of the book when I went to Vietnam. Baga Moon evolved from
a trip to that wonderful, traditional country.
Adyren Worthing longs to be anything but what she is: an apprentice
in the League of Bibliophiles. But master thief does not figure in
her daydreams. When she is accused of stealing, no one, not even her
own family, believes her claims of innocence. To uncover the truth,
she must travel to another world and discover the terrible secret
of her birth.
Plodding back through the market right on dusk, they bought the ingredients
for dinner. Pausing before a herbalist here, a fruiterer there, Adyren
was oblivious not only to her father’s purchases, but to the
juggler that delighted a small crowd and the fire magician who created
a halo of flames around a child’s head. She kept revisiting
the events of the day and thinking how unfair life could be.
Tired and heart-sick, Adyren straggled along, wishing she was in bed
so she could lose herself in dreams – any alternative to the
Luxuriating in self-pity, it took her a moment to realise that she
was being spoken to.
‘Psst,’ hissed a voice in
her ear. ‘I says, I knows you got them and I can get you a good
Adyren swung around. Standing directly behind her was a wiry old man
with a grubby kerchief tied about his neck. Dressed in a shirt too
big and leggings too tight, he blended in well. She was about to tell
him to go away when she recognised the fences’ sigil on his
vest. She sighed.
‘I didn’t take the pen. The
City Watch cleared me.’
‘Pen?’ said the
man, scratching the stubble on his chin. ‘I ain’t talking
‘bout no pen. It’s those spectacles the Thieves’
Guild says you took that I want. I can get rid of them, no questions
asked. Then the Thieves’ Guild won’t have anything on
yer, will they?’
Adyren’s mouth dropped open in astonishment. ‘Spectacles?
I don’t know what –‘
this you’re talking to?’ asked Hayden, having bartered
the brace of poultry down to a reasonable price and joining his daughter.
He looked the ancient fence up and down.
said the man, his eyes narrowing. ‘Is this your accomplice?
Doesn’t look much – but then, maybe that’s your
trick, hey? We were trying to work out how you did it.’
Suddenly, the man’s demeanour changed. Gone was the curiosity,
to be replaced by a vacant filmy stare. Pulling down his large cap
to cover his face, he swiftly melted into the crowd. Adyren glanced
at her father and lifted her arms up in a gesture of sheer puzzlement.
Immediately a hand closed over her wrist.
Adyren started in fright. Towering above her was Storm. ‘I’m
disappointed in you, Adyren Worthing. You’ll not get off so
lightly this time,’ she said, nodding at two of her men to take
Hayden. ‘This time, it’s the Watch-house for you!’