I live in the East Midlands, right in the centre of the UK, and when I’m not writing or working, I’m with the family or walking the dog in the local woodlands seeking those ever-elusive Fae. Or sitting, pint in hand with the good friends I grew up with. Some of them are hidden in the books themselves; quite a few characters are based on the people I know and love.
And so, to the Cracklocks… „The Cracklock Saga” series of books came about from reading some pretty awful fairy books to my daughter over the years – she’s in her teens now and has (with more than a little relief, I have to say) left those behind. But as I read those books with gritted teeth I always wondered what would happen if someone didn’t like fairies, what they would do about it, and could anybody stop them? This idea grew, and the Cracklocks were born. I liked the idea of people who hated the Fae and everything they stood for. And who knew just how wicked those people were? I certainly didn’t until Anastasia and Agatha got their claws into me!
The Cracklock Saga is my first series, and I have huge plans for it. The shadowy Tobias is begging for his tale to be told, and this will be forthcoming. Plus, I want to know more about Fermerillion, Dorcas and the rest of the good guys – where did they come from? And what really happened between Elsie and Malchiah all those years ago? I think I know, but they all have a habit of surprising me when I’m scribbling. More than you will ever know.
Synopsis Book 1: Fae or Foe?
The story starts with a young girl have her life force, or grackles, removed by a brownie under the control of the Cracklock family using a strange tube device; such children appear to be afflicted by an aging disease that baffles doctors. The Cracklocks are gathering this life force to destroy the Realm of the Departed (the realm of the dead), part of their plan for the destruction of Faery itself. The lead, Jack ‘Crackley’ (15), is a boy from a single-parent family on the poor side of town who has no idea who he actually is, having been glamoured to hide him when he was four. Two subsequent accidents in close succession break the glamour, which includes a fight with the local bullies (the LaFey twins) when he tries to help his friend Jimmy Owen and an attack by the indomitable Mr Binks who, not knowing who Jack is, tries to harvest Jack’s life force, or ‘grackles’ with a tube-like device that is being used to drain the lifeforce from younger children. Jack is able to resist Mr Binks but is blinded in an accident during his escape; his loss of sight is the last-ditch magical attempt of the glamour on him to stop him from seeing the Faery folk. His Great Aunt Elsie comes to look after him and eventually removes the remains of the glamour, restoring Jack’s sight and ability to see Faeries. She helps him understand his past and abilities with an introduction to the Faery realm and family history, with help from old family friends, Fermerillion (Fermy) (a Feeorin) and Dorcas (a Brownie).
Meanwhile, other Cracklocks (Malchiah, Anastasia and Benedict) learn what has happened to Jack via Mr Binks and, believing him to be the family member they have been trying to locate for years, initiate a search. Jack goes to Faery to learn more about his history via Timothy Tattingmouse (a Fae Scholar and Myomancer). Whilst he is there, Jimmy is again attacked by the LaFey’s and is saved by Dorcas. She is forced to reveal herself to Jimmy following her actions, bringing him more into the story as he learns about this hidden world.
Upon learning about the strange tube during the discussions in Faery, Fermy resolves to steal it from Mr Binks so they can investigate it further. He is subsequently captured, and Jack, Jimmy and Elsie have to rescue him, which they manage, but Fermy needs urgent help, forcing Elsie to return to Jack’s home to tend to him. Elsie doesn’t know that Anastasia and Benedict have already arrived there and are harshly interrogating Jack’s mother (Sammy) and Dorcas to find Jack. Only the arrival of Elsie manages to save them, but the ensuing battle results in Elsie’s hospitalisation.
Following Fermy’s rescue, Jack and Jimmy discover captured Faeries at Mr Binks’s house and remain to release them, stealing the tube whilst they do so for Fermy. Mr Binks pursues them and sets his Lisovyk, a type of Faery forest demon, onto them. Following a showdown at the school with the monster, the stolen tube is revealed to be a lifeform from another realm, the Realm of the Lost, a place that none of the friends knows anything about. This leads the story directly into Book 2, „The Lost and the Departed”.
Word count: Ca. 102 K
Romelia: WHAT IS A SIGNIFICANT WAY YOUR BOOK HAS CHANGED SINCE THE FIRST DRAFT?
Craig Deegan: Massively so! Books 1 and 2 were actually one long story; I fell into the newbies trap and kept writing and writing. Fortunately one of my beta readers is an author themselves so they helped me to split the tale into two halves. And two books were born.
Romelia: WHAT PERSPECTIVES OR BELIEFS HAVE YOU CHALLENGED WITH THIS WORK?
Craig Deegan: Fair folklore I think. I’ve barely scratched the surface with Faery so far in my books. It’s an entirely different realm (and sub-realms!) altogether, although it does have some commonalities with our own. And a lot of differences (for example, the Fae don’t know what a toilet roll is…make you wonder, eh?!). I’ve tried to stay true to general beliefs as much as I can, as I am aware that there are good folk out there with a great deal more knowledge of it than me but I have added my own twist.
Romelia: WHAT INSPIRED THE IDEA FOR YOUR BOOK?
Craig Deegan: Those awful fairy books I had to read to my children! They were all the same, even though there were hundreds of them. Same storyline over and over again. That’s what got me started with the Cracklocks. It was reading those awful fairy books to my daughter over the years that got me started – she’s in her teens now and has now (with more than a little relief, I have to say!) left those behind. But I always wondered what would happen if someone didn’t like fairies, what they would do about it, and could anybody stop them? This idea grew, and the Cracklocks were born. I liked the idea of people who hated the Fae and everything they stood for. And who knew just how wicked those people were? I certainly didn’t until Anastasia and Agatha got their claws into me!
I also took a look through some of the authors I would like to be like one day. Anthony Horowitz, Rick Riordan and the author of a certain boy wizard. They are the masters at what they do.
Romelia: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR BOOK’S IDEAL READER?
Craig Deegan: I write what I suppose is SFF, and it sits in a spot astride YA and Adult in the market – there’s no profanity in any of the books, but plenty of humour that adults will find entertaining. I have an eclectic group of readers; one eight-year-old (who is a prolific reader) has read both books 1 and 2, asked plenty of really good questions and left me a glowing review! So it’s teen and adult-friendly, plus okay for more mature readers amongst the 8+ crowd as well.
Romelia: HOW MUCH RESEARCH DID YOU NEED TO DO FOR YOUR BOOK?
Craig Deegan: A fair amount if I’m honest. I had a smattering of knowledge from those awful books I had to read before, and did quite a lot of research (my bookshelves are crammed with Faery lore books now). It was then a case of finding things that met with what I had in my head and the story arc. My interpretation of Faery (or Tir na Nog if you’d prefer) is different from others, I know, but it’s how I see the place – not unlike our own little realm. I have notebooks with the ideas and descriptions written down (funny how they arrive; not always welcome at 3 am it has to be said!) which I then used to build on. I always knew what my Fae looked like, and I was lucky enough to find Kristy at Midnight Coffee (https://midnightcoffee.co.uk/) who helped me bring them all to life. She’s a damn good illustrator!
Romelia: HOW IMPORTANT WAS PROFESSIONAL EDITING TO YOUR BOOK’S DEVELOPMENT?
Craig Deegan: Incredibly important! I work with a great team at SR Press LLC who conduct a full investigative edit of each book. I draft, read through, redraft, third redraft and then run Grammarly to check it all. Then my wife reads it, then the editors get it, followed by my beta team. I then perform final edits. You can never have enough eyes look at your draft I believe.
Romelia: WHAT WAS YOUR HARDEST SCENE TO WRITE, AND WHY?
Craig Deegan: The first Chapter of Book 1. I had no idea what I was doing; I knew what I wanted it to look like and tried my best. I then had a typical attack of the “it’s not good enough” and completely re-wrote Chapter 1 with a different arc. I presented both Chapters to my editors and begged for advice. They told me my original one was the best, so in it went. So there is an alternative Chapter 1 for ‘Fae or Foe?’ out there. It was a lack of confidence that caused that. I still have a little of that, but I’m much better at managing it now.
Romelia: WHAT CHARACTERS IN YOUR BOOK ARE MOST SIMILAR TO YOU OR TO PEOPLE YOU KNOW?
Craig Deegan: A lot of the characters in my books are based on the people I know and love. I don’t appear in it, but my good friends are all in there in various shapes and forms, and Elsie and Sammy are based on people who mean a lot to me. The others all appear as various Fae and other characters. And my kids are kind of in there as well, putting in an appearance in Book 3.
Romelia: HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?
Craig Deegan: Pretty much an entire year, but as I said earlier, I was actually writing two books. Book 3 took 6 months, and I intend to finish Book 4 in November 2021. That one has taken 6 months as well.
Romelia: HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE FOR YOUR BOOK?
Craig Deegan: It was originally called “Jack and the Realms” but it was really niggling me. It just didn’t sit right. And then when I split it into two books, it just came to me. As there are going to be a number of this main adventure, as well as spin offs and all aspects of the family tree, the ‘Saga’ part seemed to fit.
Romelia: WOULD YOU AND YOUR MAIN CHARACTER GET ALONG?
Craig Deegan: I’d think pretty well. Jack is loosely based on me, although only loosely! I think we’d get along okay, although I don’t think he’d listen to an old man like me! I ain’t no Elsie!
Romelia: IF YOU COULD MEET YOUR CHARACTERS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THEM?
Craig Deegan: Stay away from Cracklock Manor! And don’t use Roly for mischief, Jimmy. And for Jack particularly – do not go back into the Realm of the Departed. And I’d hug Dorcas. She’s my favourite of them all.
Romelia: WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE? ARE YOU MORE OF A PLOTTER OR A PANTSER?
Craig Deegan: I would love to be a plotter, I really would. I do plot. And then it all goes crazy when I’m writing, and I become a total pantser. I get my best ideas when I’m out walking the dog and then have to jot them down quickly. Or at 3.22 am, when I have to get up and go scribble them down on the notepad in the bathroom to avoid waking my wife. She is very tolerant of my writing, but tolerance only goes so far!
Romelia: WHAT DO YOU NEED IN YOUR WRITING SPACE TO HELP YOU STAY FOCUSED?
Craig Deegan: Just peace and quiet really. I have my own office/study as I work from home. I can’t have music on or social media; I just need the silence to get my ideas down.
Romelia: IF YOU WERE TO WRITE A SPIN-OFF ABOUT A SIDE CHARACTER, WHICH WOULD YOU PICK?
Craig Deegan: I am already doing it! I have drafted most of Elsie’s backstory already, and I want to cover off some of the other characters as well – I already know Dorcas and Fermerillion’s backstories which will become stand alone books. Also, I have plans for a new series, featuring Tobias – he’s a Cracklock who turned from the ‘dark side’ to help his fellow man. He hunts dark Fae. That series will be darker than the current series I think; certainly what I have sketched out I may have to tweak a little for the market.
Romelia: IF YOU COULD SPEND A DAY WITH ANOTHER POPULAR AUTHOR, WHOM WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Craig Deegan: I’m a massive Stephen King fan; have been since I was ten years old when I stole my mum’s copy of ‘It’. It would have to be him; I collect his first editions and I’d love him to sign them. After we’d finished talking of course, and assuming there is still time. There is so much I would love to ask him.
Romelia: WHAT IS YOUR SCHEDULE LIKE WHEN YOU’RE WRITING A BOOK?
Craig Deegan: I write most evenings, from about 7pm thru 8.30 once I finish work for the day – I have a business to run, and writing has always been my hobby until my wife said I should really publish some of my stuff! Saturday and Sunday mornings I also write from about 0730 until about 10 am – my dog is most insistent on a 0630 walk every day. Nice to have the mornings to myself before the kids get up! Finally, whenever I can sneak off (e.g when those awful reality TV shows are on!) I try and get a few paragraphs done. I have my own study as I said, so it’s all quite easy.
Romelia: HAVE YOU EVER TRAVELED AS RESEARCH FOR YOUR BOOK?
Craig Deegan: I would love to, but as this is a portal fantasy, and I haven’t been lucky enough to make any Fae friends, I have to say no. One day maybe Faery will beckon, but certainly not yet.
Romelia: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WRITING SNACK OR DRINK?
Craig Deegan: I am a massive chocoholic, so any kind of chocolate. Any kind whatsoever; it doesn’t matter. Or the size, I’ll still eat it all!
Romelia: HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE WHEN YOU FINISH YOUR BOOK?
Craig Deegan: Well, erm, well, I don’t really. I take a day or two off, and then get straight onto the next one (at least I have for the four I have written so far.) I send the draft to my wife’s Kindle; she gets first read and tells me what is good and what isn’t. This is after my own edits, but before it goes off to my editors. I’m a bit boring I suppose in this respect – maybe I ought to raise a glass or two? J In fact, I think I will when I finish the latest book, “Dire Sorrows”.
Romelia: WHAT RISKS HAVE YOU TAKEN WITH YOUR WRITING THAT HAVE PAID OFF?
Craig Deegan: Writing is always a risk I think – will people really like it? Getting something good together and publishing it is a massive risk to any writer. Other than that, I haven’t really taken many risks where writing is concerned. I knew my story, I wanted it to be as good as I could make it, and I wasn’t afraid to ask for help when it was needed.
Romelia: WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU GOOGLED YOURSELF AND WHAT DID YOU FIND?
Craig Deegan: Ha ha!! I google “The Cracklock Saga” all the time, and that throws up loads of stuff and interviews I’ve done. I tend to hide behind that to be honest; there are a couple of people who share my name, and one of them is a singer. He tends to crop up first, as he is marketing himself on Google.
Romelia: WHAT IS YOUR KRYPTONITE AS A WRITER?
Craig Deegan: My own damn brain! As I said above, I’m a bit of a pantser. So I’ll suddenly have a great idea that necessitates massive restructuring. It’s actually kind of fun when I’ve finished cursing how much I have to redo.
Romelia: TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY FROM YOUR ADULT LIFE.
Craig Deegan: My dog is a little fussy when it comes to his food. Human food, no problems, absolutely anything goes. „Hey, you got an orange? I want some.” etc. But his own food, particularly the wet food, no. So…every morning when we get back from the morning walk, I pretend to eat his food out of his bowl with a spoon, walking around the house and purposely ignoring him until the begging reaches a crescendo, at which point I give it him and he scoffs it down like someone was going to take it away from him. A few weeks ago, I’m stood in the front room window, doing the routine, and the post lady walks up the drive, clocking me eating my ‘breakfast’. Rings the bell; I shut the dog away (he loves the post lady) and answer the door to her. Carrying the bowl. She starts in „Sorry to interrupt your breakfast but….” and then tails off, looking at the bowl in my hand, which proudly displays the word ‘DOG’, then the dog food smeared spoon. Looks at me, looks at the bowl, looks at me, sniffs, and raises her eyebrows. I take the parcel from her, and slowly close the door. I watch through the window as she is laughing herself stupid walking down the drive, before fishing a phone out of her pocket, no doubt to tell all her friends. Another person I have to avoid for life. Bah.
Romelia: DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN A FEW SENTENCES. TELL US SOMETHING WE DO NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU AND SOMETHING YOU HATE ABOUT THE WORLD.
Craig Deegan: I am a family man, living in the East Midlands, right in the center of the UK. I have my own business that myself and my friend have built from scratch and worked all the hours available to make this a success, which we have now. I write as an escape, always have done and always will. I am a massive claustrophobic; caves, touring submarines, squashed into lifts…no thank you!
I don’t really hate much about the world if I’m honest; it would be nicer if people were kinder to each other. Since I have become published, you do see the nastier side of people; trolls and such like. But you can only upset yourself if you let them.
You can keep up to date with all things Cracklock by visiting:
www.thecracklocksaga.com – sign up here at the “Be a Lockhead” part for previews and giveaways
Or email me directly with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you like the story, then please be sure to leave a review. It is so important to new authors that others can see if you have enjoyed a particular story or not. If you feel you can spare the time to do so, that would be great.
So, I do hope that you’ll want to come along for the rest of the ride. You would be most welcome…
Check out my other published works at:
- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spooky-Tales-Pub-M-Smith-ebook/dp/B08LV4JZ2W) – Tobias makes his first appearance here!
- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Written-Tales-Magazine-Night-Terrors-ebook) –