Victoria Clayton
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Children's Books

'The Winter of Enchantment and 'The House called Hadlows'

In mid-April 2004 I received an e-mail from Graeme Roberts of Magpie Books. He drew my attention to a long-running discussion on the internet about the two books I wrote in my early twenties. Those stories were fantasies for children called The Winter of Enchantment and The House Called Hadlows. They sold reasonably well and I received letters from children (and adults) who had enjoyed them. In 1970 ITV broadcast a serial of The Winter of Enchantment produced by Anglia Television as an animation based on 250 watercolours by John Worsley (I would like to know where those pictures are now). But the books went out of print thirty years ago and I thought they had been entirely forgotten.

To my delight the internet forum revealed that WoE had been for some people one of those books that triggers the passion for reading. And to my astonishment its scarcity has meant that copies were changing hands for a great deal of money. Neil Gaiman and Garth Nix, leading writers of fantasy fiction today, had both written kindly of the books and they and many others wondered why they were not being re-published. But I was oblivious of all this interest. Because I had written under my maiden name of Victoria Walker naturally no one connected me with the books. Thanks to the internet Graeme Roberts managed to use biographical clues from the book jackets to trace me via my brother, the crucial connection being an obituary of my father that was posted on a website.

People who had read those two books as children and remembered them wondered why I hadn't written anything else. There was speculation that I might have died. The truth is that I didn't know quite what to write. Those early novels were written in an impetuous passion when I was still pretty immature. Inevitably even I grew up and could no longer recapture what it is like to be a child - and I think that is probably the key if a story is to click with young readers.

I wanted an education so, aged twenty-six, I went to university and read English, then married as soon as I graduated. I had two children. Not being particularly ambitious I was perfectly happy pottering about. During the twenty-five years between books I did write another novel for children, very different from the first two. Such were the demands of family life, it took me four years. I made a half-hearted attempt to get it published but was told then (1994) that it was too demanding a read for the modern child, too fantastical and too long. How fashions change or, perhaps, how publishers can mis-read the market.

It seemed that that particular avenue was closed to me. So I screwed up my courage and began to write for adults. Out of Love (1997) was the result to be followed by (so far) five other novels and a few short stories.

Anyone who is interested in the discussion thread that finally exposed the evolution of V Walker into V Clayton can follow it starting from the first posting which is here. (You will need to register with Abebooks in order to enter the forums area).

And there is an article about the books in the May 2004 Newsletter of ibooknet (the independent booksellers' cooperative) here.

Work in progress:
My latest novel 'Stormy Weather' is now published as a Kindle e-book. Follow this link .

I have started work on another one in a different genre. More news on that in due course.

I am reissuing my early novels as e-books. 'Out of Love', 'Past Mischief', 'Dance with Me' and 'Running Wild' will all be available in the Amazon Kindle Store by Christmas 2012. The short stories which used to be available here are now collected into a Kindle book which will be free to download.

I started a blog a while ago as somewhere to jot down my thoughts about the things that interest me day to day and occupy my thoughts when not writing a novel. A year on it developed beyond the first entry. Two years on, a few more. You can visit it here.