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Mark Willoughby ad the Impostor-King of Lazaronia


Mark Willoughby and the Imposter-King of Lazaronia can now be purchased on Amazon in Kindle format, for which you don’t even need a Kindle. The is available for desktop and laptop computers: Mac Windows and is even available for iPad and iPhone.

Mark Willoughby and the Imposter-King of Lazaronia

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Iimpatiently Esmeralda freed herself from one scratchy bush and dodged another. Manuka, she believed it was called. It was all over the place.

What in the Goddess’s name was she doing in this tiny, sparsely populated land anyway? If she’d had no luck finding the child on Earth’s continents and more densely inhabited islands, what chance had she in a place isolated from most of its world by huge stretches ofsea and ocean? But these islands of almost impenetrable forest and bushland were certainly her last chance.

     And at least even the poorest children weren’t dying of the relentless famine cursing so much of this overcrowded world. The child she sought needed to be healthy, as well as strong and fearless, to survive the ordeals awaiting him. She daren’t dwell on the consequences of failing to find him: a boy whose age she could only guess, of whose looks she had no idea, and in the search for whom she had but one cryptic clue—that he bore the mark of the willow.

     But her sense of impending climax right now was so strong she knew he had to be close by. It was as though the weird hat found among her dead husband’s belongings, in getting blown into this overgrown reserve of trees, shrubs and treeferns, was leading her somewhere.

     Grimacing ruefully, she retrieved the hat and continued climbing. It was fortunate the situation wasn’t reversed: that this teeming planet wasn’t hers and she an Earthling trying—alone and in secret—to trace one child among billions …

     Ah! She’d finally reached the end.

     And Esmeralda pushed past her last obstacle—a sweet-smelling pine that she knew wasn’t native to this land—to find a flat green sward fronting buildings of a type she instantly recognised. She’d visited countless numbers of them during her quest. The English-speaking of Earth called them schools, institutions for which her people, tragically, had no use. The buildings were clearly empty. She’d have to return in two days when the school week started.

     But earthlings didn’t like strangers around their schools. Especially ones asking children peculiar questions. Luckily she could deal with that by disguising herself as an ordinary Earth mother …

     That was when she saw the boy. He lay asleep in the sun, the diamond-shape of a white kite abandoned beside him. Her excitement mounted. Was he why she’d been drawn to the school in spite of its being deserted? If so, she had to speak to him at once. Her enemies, determined to stop her claiming the child she sought, had long been on her trail. And they were getting closer. If they alerted this boy’s parents—or the city’s law enforcement people—to her undoubtedly illegal intentions … Well, the results didn’t bear thinking about.

     Resolutely Esmeralda stepped into the open.

     At that moment her tall, pointed black hat was snatched from behind. She found herself frozen to the spot, unable even to turn. So her enemies—with infinitely more power than she had despite her importance to the land from which they all came—had caught up with her.

     Without her late husband’s strange hat she couldn’t even return home!

© Laraine Anne Barker, 1992
All rights reserved

Further extract from Mark Willoughby and the Impostor-King of Lazaronia

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I hadn’t been happy with this book for years. Because of the increasingly shorter novels demanded by publishers of fiction for children and teens at the time of its writing (1992) I chopped it by a third—a reduction it simply couldn’t take because it meant getting rid of details, dialogue and all sorts of things that weren’t absolutely necessary to the plot but were necessary to a rounded story. Anyway, this is the new beginning of the book after its rewrite following a critique that Cherry Wilder kindly did for me just before her death, and if you read the original excerpt posted here it might give you some idea of all the reworking and rewriting writers have to do before they can get a publisher interested. (Never mind all the rewriting that comes after publication! J) It was Cherry who suggested I needed a new title, though I’m not sure she was happy with Mark Willoughby and the Impostor-King of Lazaronia. I suspect she thought it was too long.

The publisher mentioned on my Blurbs for Earthlight page was actually interested in the longer version, before I ruined it. I hope you like my rewrite. To let me know what you think, please email me.