Character Interview: Darcie Duffield (Fortune’s Well Book 1 – Hangman’s Revenge)

To celebrate the release of Fortune’s Well Book 1 – Hangman’s Revenge we are sharing a couple of character interviews! Next up is Darcie Duffield, one of our main protagonists.

1. Who is your best friend?

I could tell you it’s Vicky Marshall, but that wouldn’t be completely true. My real best friend is my aunt Jenna… which is weird, because she’s dead. I know. Messed up. But sometimes I like to talk to her still. It makes me feel ok for just a minute.

2. Who is your worst enemy?

Well, that one’s easy – Jared Wheeler.

3. What do you think people think of you?

Unfortunately, I don’t think people think of me at all.

4. What do you wish people knew about you?

That I’m more than just good grades and good genes. There’s more to me than meets the eye. It sounds silly, but I feel like I’m meant to do great things.

5. What’s your biggest fear?

Losing myself and becoming exactly who they want me to be. But lately… lately I think my biggest fear is what will happen to my new friend, JJ Carson, if I can’t help him in time.

6. What’s your biggest hope?

My hope is for JJ and his mother to reconnect. Perhaps make up for all the lost time. Who knows, maybe I can do the same with my own mom…

7. What’s your biggest secret?

The girl in the mirror. I’m the only one who sees her and she sees me right back.

8. What is the worst thing you have done to another person?

I hurt someone. Bad. At least, I was part of what happened to them. Even worse I ran and covered up the truth. But sometimes bad people deserve bad things… right?

9. What kind of friend are you?

Loyal and fierce.

10. What are your worst habits?

I bite my lip pretty much whenever I’m anxious, or nervous, or just generally over thinking situations. It’s terrible. I’m surprised I have a mouth left at all!

11. What is one thing about yourself that you would change if you could?

I wish what was on the inside would shine through more. That people could see that before they see the rest of me.

12. What is one thing about yourself that you would never change?

I’m very inquisitive and that definitely comes in handy when I need it. I guess I must get that from my dad. He’s a head researcher for Bio Chem, a large pharmaceutical company.

13. Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

Right now? Any where but Fortune’s Well. There’s something about this place that I can’t put my finger on. But I will find out what it is. I know I will. It’s in my nature. And that scares me.

14. What is on your bucket list?

Not many people know this, but I love to write. I want to write this down someday, everything that’s happening with JJ and me. An epic adventure I can capture forever.

WE hope you enjoyed meeting our two teen heroes, JJ and Darcie! Here is the buy link if you would like to check out the book. It’s the first in a trilogy, and be warned, it’s wild ride! https://chantelleatkins.com/2022/05/24/character-interviews-jj-carson-fortunes-well-book-1-hangmans-revenge/

Character Interviews: JJ Carson (Fortune’s Well Book 1 – Hangman’s Revenge)

It’s release day for the YA book I have co-written with Sim Sansford! We are so excited to share Hangman’s Revenge with you and can’t wait to see what you make of our protagonist’s JJ and Darcie. To kick off here is an interview with JJ Carson…

  1. Who is your best friend? Until recently I didn’t have a best friend, in fact it felt like all I had were enemies in this town. But then Darcie stood up for me, helped me fight off the bullies and since then I’ve got to know her better. I think she is my best friend. I hope so.
  2. Who is your worst enemy? Well I’ve got a few. I already told you this town hates me. There’s a group of boys who kick my arse nearly every day because they think I’m a freak and Jared Wheeler is the ring-leader, so yeah, him.
  3. What do you think people think of you? I know what most people think of me. They either pity me because my mum is locked up for killing my dad, or they fear me because they think I’m going to turn out to be as crazy as her. Or they just hate me because they think I’m weird. Yeah,, weird. They all think I’m weird.
  4. What do you wish people knew about you? Ah, I don’t really care. They can all piss off. Well, I suppose I’d like them to know that I didn’t kill my dad so I’m not crazy like my mum. But I don’t think they’d care anyway… I suppose, if I’m honest, I wish they knew how lonely I’ve been.
  5. What’s your biggest fear? Turning out like my mum. Losing the plot, turning to violence in a heartbeat, killing someone. I’m dark inside, I know I am. I’m scared it’ll get out.
  6. What’s your biggest hope? That Darcie and I become close. That she sticks by me, whatever happens. And I hope me and Uncle Henry get on better one day. That would really help a lot.
  7. What’s your biggest secret? There is a darkness inside of me and it’s getting worse. I can see it now in the form of a kind of mist. It likes it when I get angry and it can destroy… If people knew about this, they would lock me up like my mum.
  8. What is the worst thing you have done to another person? I stepped in and tried to be the hero – I tried to stand up to Jared and got caught in the middle of something else instead. He was hurting Darcie – I didn’t even really know her then, but I stopped him. Trouble is, the mist took over and now he’s in hospital…
  9. What kind of friend are you? Hard to say, seeing as how I’ve not really had any until now but I’d probably be grumpy and moody I reckon. I’m used to being on my own so I’m not used to friendship. I’m loyal though and I hate bullies, so I’d be the type of friend that would stand up for you even if it got me in trouble.
  10. What are your worst habits? Uncle Henry would say I don’t do enough around the house but I’d disagree. I do loads. I think Darcie might say I’m grumpy, maybe a bit cynical and negative at times. I’ve got a bad temper which obviously I am trying not to let out.
  11. What is one thing about yourself that you would change if you could? Ah, tricky question. I should say the mist, the darkness inside me, because if I got rid of that, I could maybe be normal. But I also don’t want to get rid of it because without it I’m helpless and lost.
  12. What is one thing about yourself that you would never change? Again, tricky. I don’t want to change the mist even though I maybe should… But also my art. I wouldn’t change that. I wouldn’t be me without art and it’s helped me so much.
  13. Where would you like to be in 5 years time? I don’t know. Not here. There is something wrong with this town and the people in it. I’d like to get away… I don’t know where. I can kind of see me and Darcie running off together and maybe travelling, maybe in a campervan or something cool like that! Other than that, I really have no idea. I don’t have a lot going for me, to be honest.
  14. What is on your bucket list? – Hmm. I guess a romance with Darcie would be top, but don’t tell her that. I’d die. Seeing my mum free again would be awesome. Getting on with Uncle Henry would be good too. I’d like to get better at art and maybe travel to some cool places with Darcie.

We hope you enjoyed meeting JJ! If you are interested in finding more, here is the buy link mybook.to/HangmansRevenge


Welcome To Fortune’s Well: Book One Hangman’s Revenge is coming soon!

Fast on the heels of my recent release The Old Friend – A Collection of Tales and Poems, this Wednesday sees the release of the first book in the YA trilogy I’ve co-written with Sim Sansford. We are both incredibly excited that the moment is finally here after a whirlwind year of writing three books via Facebook messenger! It seems incredible that we are now about to welcome you into the strange town of Fortune’s Well and introduce you to our characters, JJ and Darcie.

I still can’t quite believe that we wrote three books together in such a short space of time – with very little planning, I might add! The majority of it was discussed and thrashed out within Facebook messenger. Sim had the original idea about lonely, misunderstood teens who discover they have special abilities and we decided to each create a character and then write alternate chapters from their points of view.

I went first and wrote the introductory chapter and my character JJ made his somewhat solemn entrance. At this point, we were not entirely sure where the story would lead us but we didn’t have to worry because the characters knew! Once they were fully alive, they just seemed to lead the way. What happened next was really a crazy whirlwind of messages and chapters flying back and forth between us.

Normally, I like to plan a book a bit before I start and then have a planning notebook running alongside the story as it unfolds, but our approach was a lot more haphazard than that. Yet it worked! I’ve never co-written anything before so this was a really interesting process and experience for me. I’ve always believed that talking about writing makes you want to write. It gets you excited, gets the ideas sparking and the passion running high. I often see this happening in the writing groups I run – people are unsure or hesitant or suffering from a block or a loss of confidence, and then all the talk and discussion and floating of ideas suddenly gets it all going again.

I think this is what happened with us and these books and it really felt quite magical. I mean, writing is magical anyway, it really is – ideas become stronger, characters become real people, plots develop and twist and turn and it all ignites together to create a story. A world.

With these books we had an idea, a concept about teens with powers hidden within them and that led us to the creation of Fortune’s Well and a far darker, twistier, grippping story than we had ever imagined. The town itself (based loosely on Sim’s home town of Dorchester) became a bigger part of the story than we first anticipated, opening up the possibility of prequels and sequels based there.

Whatever happens next, Sim and I have had the best time ever creating these stories. It was never supposed to be a trilogy, but it just kept going and I know we haven’t seen the last of these characters.

The book comes out on Wednesday 25th May and you can preorder via the link below if you are interested in finding out about what lies within Fortune’s Well and inside our our two teen protagonists.https://books2read.com/HangmansRevenge

Here is the blurb!

In the town of Fortune’s Well a dangerous storm is brewing, and two unsuspecting teenagers are standing right at the heart of it.

For JJ Carson, life has not been easy. His father is dead, his mother arrested for the murder, and he has been forced to live on the farm with his alcoholic uncle, Henry. Just when things could not get any worse, JJ discovers his living situation is not the only thing that makes him different from the other kids. A dark, swirling mist has made itself at home inside him and it is slowly changing him from the inside out.

Enter Darcie Duffield. Beautiful, popular, and incredibly misunderstood. Darcie is sick of the status quo and wants to make a difference. After a chance meeting with a strange boy at the river she becomes tangled in a web of lies and deceit as she tries to help save him from the darkness lurking within.

Why is this happening?
Where has it come from?

And why is Darcie the only one who can see it?

The Old Friend – A Collection of Tales and Poems is out today!!

It’s always exciting when months, if not years of hard work, revisions, edits, proofreads and more edits lead finally to the release of a brand new book. The Old Friend – A Collection of Tales and Poems is released today in ebook and paperback on Amazon. It will be on other platforms very soon. Here is the short link if you feel like checking it out! mybook.to/TheOldFriend

This book in particular was a long time coming. Some of the short stories in here go back at least a decade whereas some are very recent. The same goes for the poetry and the blog-style musings you will find scattered throughout the book. I don’t write poetry very often, for example, sometimes only a few times a year, so you can imagine why it took so long to get enough content for this collection.

I am really pleased with it though. It’s a dark, gritty little thing full of musings on life, death, birth, motherhood, nature, society and more. It’s probably the most personal thing I have ever released, particularly the poems, and some of the musings are about real people in my life, real experiences, thoughts and fears and so on.

Of course, many of the short stories are pure fiction. Before release, I wrangled with the idea of adding a page in the book where I explain the background or inspiration for each piece. In the end, I decided to leave it up to the reader’s imagination. But just for fun and to celebrate release day, here is a list of the pieces in the work along with the stories and inspiration behind them;

Murder – This was a poem that climbed intside my head about 5 or 6 years ago when I was jogging down my lane. The crows were absolutely furious. So noisy it was deafening. Quite eerie, and I really did wonder what was wrong with them. Then I thought about how the local gamekeeper shoots them to protect the pheasants they raise for people to shoot for fun and thought yeah, probably that.

The Old Friend – At one point, I thought my book The Boy With The Thorn In His Side was complete. It was a large book in two parts and had a sequel. Then I started getting new ideas. New ideas that meant moving the ending further back and slotting in a load of new content. The only way to do this was to make it into a series, dividing the big book into two, adding a brand new book three, using the sequel as book four and then inevitably that led to a brand new book five. This short story was written around the time I was writing book three. In book three the main character Danny goes through an even harder time than he had previously and I couldn’t help feeling guilty, almost as if I were doing it to a real person! So, I explored this guilt in this story.

A Mother’s Story – essentially a prelude or teaser to my upcoming YA series The Day The Earth Turned, I wrote this from the point of view of Mother Nature.

Leaf – an old story I wrote years ago about a boy and his imaginary friend. This was based on some truth; my nephew had an imaginary friend called Leaf when he was little!

The Writer Woman – A Cautionary Tale – This also goes back a few years and just popped in my head one day. It might even have appeared on this blog at the time. It’s a little nod to the years I spent not writing because I didn’t think I had time and because so many people try to deter you from following creative pursuits. It’s a bit of an over-exaggeration of what could happen if those ideas aren’t let out regularly!

Child’s Eye – Another old story, I can’t quite remember where this idea came from!

Who Turned Out The Lights? – I wrote this one a few years ago after our writing group were talking about horror stories for Halloween. I wrote it around that time and possibly shared it to Wattpad or this blog. We are prone to power cuts where we live and sometimes when the lights go out suddenly, you automatically reach for the nearest hand…

Snotgoblin – This piece appeared on my blog about 8 years ago when my youngest child was approaching his first birthday. Someone on Facebook joked about calling children of this age snotgoblins and I thought it was brilliant. He was a little sticky mess at that age and the piece just flowed from that. It’s a little nostalgic piece about the untamed wildness of very young children.

Reuben’s Race – I wrote this as a short story or possible chapter for my YA series The Day The Earth Turned. At the time I was busy with other books, but if I got a really strong idea I would write a bit for this series. This story eventually ended up as a chapter in the book!

The Puddle -This is another old one and it comes from the memory of my oldest daughter being quite obsessed with puddles as a young child. She would often say there were other worlds inside them…

Stan – A piece that appeared on this blog a long time ago about my late step-grandfather, Stan. He was a very tall, very quiet man who I didn’t feel I ever got to know. But I have so many good memories of him.

Getting There – A few years back I was going through a low period and most of the poetry in this collection comes from that time. For some reason, I can only write poems when I’m feeling really dark! This one is a reference to what me and my husband often say to each other. You Ok? Yeah, you ok? Getting there. It just kind of means we are hanging on.

7 Minutes – Wrote a few years ago after a chat with my eldest daughter. She had read somewhere that after death your brain is still alive for 7 minutes. I started wondering what those 7 minutes might be like.

Slug – Quite an old one written about my ridiculous but genuine fear of slugs!

Crushed By A Number – Another one written during a dark time. I have always struggled with my body image.

The Rubbish Man – wrote a few years ago. I got the idea when feeling really angry about the amount of litter and fly-tipping that goes on where I live.

Fine Wine – I do like to reward myself with a glass of wine on a Friday after a busy week!

Monday Morning – wrote a few years ago after watching my older kids leave home and try to cross the road to their school bus stop. It was a miserable Monday and none of us wanted it.

Outside – I wrote this after the first lockdown, when restrictions were starting to lift. During the strict early days, it was so quiet everywhere, it almost felt like the world had ended. This is from the point of view of a woman who doesn’t want the world to go back to normal…

Nothing – another fairly dark poem from a dark time

Grief – This one is fairly recent. I was feeling so sad about the state of the world, climate change, the decimation and extinction of wildlife…

Moonlit Shadow – This has a story behind it. I got up one morning about two summer ago and walked blearily into the bathroom. I was sure I saw a shadow move across the floor and when I sat on the loo I got a really strong feeling of loss accompanied with lyrics to a song I couldn’t recall the name of. I associated it with my sister, though I still have no idea why! I ended up googling the lyrics until I found the song. It was Moonlit Shadow by Mike Oldfield. I still have no clue why it made me think about my sister!

Bug – small, strange poem about me accidentally killing a bug. I hate accidentally killing things.

Smokey Sneak – a little poem about the stresses and strains of modern life

Zombies – a poem I wrote during a recent election.

The Shed – This story was my son’s idea! It was during the first lockdown when he was 12 and he told me he had a story idea but didn’t want to write it, so I did.

Dark Little Girl – another dark poem from a darker time!

What If… – a poem that expresses concern about the point of life

Friends List – a poem about Facebook!

Mother Pt 1 – just a little one I wrote one day when tired. I remembered my mum always saying there was no point her sitting down, and I felt the same!

Fried Eggs For Breakfast – The idea for this came when I was cooking eggs and wondering what I would do if something unexpected came out of one…

Tired – a poem that crept in my head when I was still dog-walking for a job as well as running writing clubs. I was really, really tired!

All These Thoughts of Dying – a bit of a grim one, but I find it really hard not to think about death when I am driving!

The Forest – a recent poem I wrote after a walk in my favourite woods. I wondered what it would be like to just lie down and sink into the earth.

Things You Don’t Want To Do – A poem I wrote a while back when feeling a bit overwhelmed. Sometimes life is just full of things you don’t want to do….

Driving The Bends – this one evolved in my head during my constant journeys up a certain narrow, twisty road where I live. It’s one of those roads that is just begging for an accident to happen and it only takes one idiot…

Dylan’s Dream – another idea from my teenage son. He had a bizarre dream and described it to us in great detail. I said that sounds like a weird story. He didn’t want to write it down, so I did.

Read Now, Die Later – I got the idea for this one when dog-walking. I was on a narrow, gravelled path and I kept thinking I could hear footsteps behind me, crunching the gravel. Whenever I turned, no one was there. I soon realised it was the loose gravel flying out behind me when I walked and scattering further back. But by the time I felt safe, I had devised this whole story in my head!

The Universe – I like this one, it’s one of my favourites. For a long time, my husband had to start work at 4am and as we only have one car, I’d wake up too and drop him there. Sometimes on the drive back, the sun would just be rising and everything would seem very peaceful and calm, and if a perfect song came on the radio and if all the traffic lights stayed green, I would cruise safely home feeling that the universe was on my side.

The Death of You – another poem about death. I often get fearful about driving especially when I see the remains of animals on the roads, but then I started thinking about all the other ways you could easily die at any time…

2020 – one I wrote during the first lockdown! 2020 was certainly a memorable year.

The Black Van – This short story arrived unexpectedly when I was driving home one day. The lights were red and a black van was in front of me. Just then an identical black van pulled up behind me and I was sandwiched between them. It was early morning with no other cars about. The lights seemed to take forever to change and I started imagining what would happen if the vans contained bad people with sinister intentions! By the time I got home I had the story idea and wrote it later that day. It just flowed! It then became a novel idea which I intend to co-write with Sim Sansford soon, now that we have finished our trilogy together!

Mother Pt 2 – I think a lot about motherhood. Being a mother makes you realise things about your own mother. I think it gives you a clearer idea of what she did for you and what she sacrificed. Thinking about how much kids are attached to you as little ones but then leave home and don’t look back made me think about my own mother and my experiences as a mother.

A Woman Of A certain age – I wrote this in the kitchen one Friday night after a stressful week when my perimenopausal hormones had really battered me. I had a drink on the go and music from my youth playing.

My Golden Son – I wrote this quite a few years ago when my oldest son was about ten or so. We were walking down the lane which is very beautiful, sheltered by oak trees and enjoying the wildflowers and the hedgerows full of birds, and then I got suddenly very depressed by the litter and the prospect of climate change and I just felt awful for him, having to grow up in such uncertain times

These Streets – Another one that popped into my head during an early morning drive home after dropping my husband at work. He works in a fairly run down area and it was these details I was noticing as I drove.

Black Hare Valley – A few years ago I had a vague idea to write a horror story about a group of kids living in a very sinister town. I started a few character bios and loose ideas and then created a huge map for the fictional town of Black Hare Valley. It was a lot of fun and my son helped me. I couldn’t write the book at that point but I wrote this prologue or teaser for it instead. I am now writing the book!

We Write – The newest poem in the collection. I am obsessed with writing, as you probably know. I love it so much. I think it is pure magic and these are just some of the reasons we feel compelled to write.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these brief stories behind the pieces in this new collection!