Anne Barwell (Guest Post)

Cat’s Quill (Hidden Places 01), by Anne Barwell


By Any Other Name

Thanks for hosting me today.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
When I chose roses as the topic for today, I couldn’t resist including the quote I took the title of the blog post from. Roses are a reoccurring theme in my writing, and especially in my Hidden Places series. As one of the main characters, Tomas, is a writer, and his husband, Cathal, is very keen on literature, it seemed right to start each story in the series with a quote.
I didn’t deliberately set out to include roses in my stories, it just kind of happened. I’ve always loved roses, and my garden has several varieties of them in it. However, they don’t flourish because I’m a keen gardener, but live in spite of the lack of time I spend looking after them.
I love using metaphor, imagery, and description in my stories. When I started writing Hidden Places, and decided that both the inn and the village library had roses climbing their outside walls, I began to read about the mythology and meaning of them. For example lavender roses mean love at first sight and enchantment. Cathal comes from another world, one where magic is the norm rather than technology, and part of his coat of arms is a rose. The portal between his world and Tomas’s is marked by an old oak tree which stands in both. In Cathal’s world it is known as Rhosynoak which translates into English as Rose Oak. Generations ago roses grew there, encircling it, but one morning they all withered and died. No one has ever discovered why.
Simon, in The Sleepless City urban fantasy series grows roses as a hobby. Weirdly enough it wasn’t my idea, but that of my co-writer’s for the series, Elizabeth Noble, who had no idea that I had a wee obsession with the things. Since then I’ve thought about it further, and it makes sense that he would be drawn to them. The reason for that isn’t just because his mother, an upper class Victorian/Edwardian woman, enjoyed tending to them. Simon’s a vampire, and in a way sees himself much like a rose. He’s been stuck physically at twenty-two for nearly one hundred years, but he never lets himself forget that roses, although beautiful, have very sharp thorns. Simon’s very aware of those thorns, and dislikes what he is. His partner, Ben, might disagree, but that’s an ongoing argument I can’t see being resolved anytime soon.
I debated which of those series to include a blurb and cover for, and in the finish decided on Cat’s Quill which is the first of the Hidden Places series as my current WIP is a side novel for that story.



Tomas Kemp has two successful novels to his name and the true belief that a successful sequel is only a matter of a little inspiration. When Tomas meets a mysterious stranger under the branches of an old oak tree, he feels compelled to tell him about a book he holds dear and the sequel he wants to read. But Cathal doesn’t share that deep belief that the sequel Tomas seeks ends happily. Cathal has seen enough of a world where stories are real to know that happy ever after is sometimes the dream that won’t come true.
But stories have never let Tomas down, and as he follows Cathal across the reality shift between their worlds, he learns that Cathal is right: Happy ever after is never just given—but sometimes, it can be fought for and won.

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Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.
In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.



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