Author MT McGuire is one of my favorite bloggers. That’s partly because I never know what MT will write about next. Or how.
Like the time she went metal detecting and found “a strange um…. thing.” Well, with an opening like that, don’t we just need to press on, to figure out what the um… thing is?
One day she’s unearthing an 800 year old object and the next she’s breaking your heart with her worry about her parents’ health.
“My Mum was 80 a few months ago. She told me, gently, that her father didn’t survive to see 81 and I had a horrible feeling that she was telling me she thinks she mightn’t be around for long. And I think this is the root of it all. That my parents are knocking on, and soon they won’t be here. And I want their last years to be happy, and for life to be kind to them, and while I think they are happy, I know they are struggling.
So I suppose I’m just scared.”
That ability to confront both the weird and the deeply moving may help explain the appeal of MT’s K’Barthan Trilogy.
She describes the young adult fantasy series as: “Above all else, a romp. If it makes people laugh, then — to be honest — anything else is gravy. There are bad jokes, silly names, an unspeakable baddie, flying cars, flying car chases, exciting fights and a smattering of romance. But I’m hoping there might be the odd universal truth buried in there somewhere, even if it’s only by mistake.”
MT McGuire’s self-description? “A 45 year old who still checks inside unfamiliar wardrobes for a gateway to Narnia.”
Any luck with that? “None yet.”
One day, I checked MT’s blog and discovered a wonderful old building where she and her family lived while her father was housemaster of Gibbs House, at Lancing College in Sussex, England.
Here’s how she describes it:
“Miles and miles of corridor and a couple of enormous rooms (you know, bed in one post code, wardrobe in another) and a couple of tiny ones just big enough to fit a chest of drawers and a bed, on each floor. You have the spare room; the dormer up top (horrible room, we thought it was haunted – so we kindly put our guests there – phnark).”
Lancing was definitely not a “normal” environment for a young girl, since it was mostly a boys’ school.
“If your life is not like other people’s you end up with an alternative perception of what normal is.”
You also learn to see things that others may miss.
“There were always the lads who were having a hard time at home. They were the ones my parents were extra kind to and for whom they went the extra mile. I never knew what was going on in these boys’ lives but there was something unmistakable in all of them. So, I guess I developed an eye for people who were hauling baggage which has helped a lot with the characterisation in my books – not to mention day to day life.”
So – back to the pictures of Lancing College. They reminded me of another fantasy series — the Harry Potter books. And sure enough, Lancing was the producers’ first location choice.
“The school was offered a lot of money to be the ‘film-Hogwarts’ but declined. The headmaster at the time said that it was a place of education and not for Hollywood. He is a charming and mild mannered man. I wonder what on earth they must have said to him to get such an uncharacteristically pompous rebuttal.”
Today, MT, her husband (“McOther”) and young son (“McMini”) live in another old building (above, built in 1800).
She loves it, despite the fact that the plumbing and heating systems and the plastering need repairs. MT says it’s like owning a 1960’s Rolls Royce.
“Sure it needs a bit of care and tinkering but it’s like living in history and it’s so beautifully made. The banister rail is beautiful and the doors and the floors are lovely. The look and feel goes with our furniture, which is mostly family stuff, generations of hand-me-down antiques and some nice modern things McOther and I have bought.”
Comfort matters. “I like a well cared house, but not too neat. It has to look lived in or it makes the guests nervous and then they are far more likely to spill stuff and break things. Well, OK — I am, if I’m your guest. It may be different for normal people.”
For MT, home is a place, but, above all, it’s the people who love and understand you.
“Someone as well as somewhere to come home to. When I was a kid it was my parents and brother. Now, it’s McOther and McMini. Unless they are in it with me it’s not a proper home. I guess they are my home in many ways.”
MT McGUIRE’S BOOKS
There are 4 books — not three — in The K’Barthan Trilogy.
(MT cheerfully admits: “Unfortunately, I’ve never been very good at maths”.)
The books are sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the other online booksellers. To learn more about MT and her books, please visit: