I launched my second middle grade novel, Brockwell the Brave, on Saturday the 16th of September, 2017. I decided to hold this launch at the local park and playground.
The afternoon was wonderful with lots of friends and family coming along to help me celebrate. The themes for the afternoon were dragons, vikings and hearts. The children who came along dressed up and I had some activities for them to do .
An Interview with Jenny about why she wrote Brockwell the Brave
Why did you write Brockwell the Brave?
My first book, Ride High Pineapple, was based on myself and my eldest daughter. I wanted my second book to be based on my son. He also has my craniofacial syndrome but I didn’t want to write a boy version of the story. I decided to focus on another of my son’s qualities. He is not your typical boy. My son growing up has been a quiet, gentle and you could say, ‘girlie’ boy. He was always into dressing up, he loved dancing, he didn’t possess any action figures or trucks or cars. He owned ‘girl gender’ toys, loved sparkles and the colour pink. My son is now 14 and has hair nearly down to his bottom. He loves to read, to draw, to cook, video games and his soft toys.
Now one could say this is a product of his circumstances and environment. He has two sisters, so he grew up playing with them, and his friends from kindy upwards have been girls as well, so he has grown up in their world. My son was also banned from playing sport growing up because of his face. And his hair was shaved off multiple times with operations, so there could be a subconscious want to have a long hair. Who knows? But it doesn’t matter to us. We love him how he is.
The story Brockwell the Brave, is set in a fantasy Viking village called Enga. Brockwell, the main character, lives on a dragon farm. Even though the village is a fantasy, everything else relating to the village and Viking way of life, is factual, including the names used. Throughout the story I have inserted the Icelandic language which is the closest modem day language to Old Norse. This added some extra authenticity to the story.
I chose the dragons as my son asked for dragons to be in the story. At the time, he has obsessed with the How to Train Your Dragon series and was collecting the dragons he liked. I was very conscious, not to make my book similar to the films or books.
What is the story about?
So Brockwell is twelve, and lives on a dragon farm. His family raises dragons from eggs to be the working animals in the village, like bullocks in the olden days. He loves the babies but is scared of the older dragons which his father wants him to feed and care for. He also likes to do the ‘female’ jobs like going to the village markets to buy the food. Brockwell’s secret desire is to be a healer and he often sneaks off to the village healing hut to help out. Brockwell’s best friend is a strong girl, Ingrid. Mr Ness, Brockwell’s father, believes she’d make a better son then he is. The village bully, Colden, picks on Brockwell as he is a soft target. One day, Brockwell’s father goes on an expedition to rescue an injured wild dragon. He would bring the dragon back to the farm. When Mr Ness doesn’t return, Brockwell goes against his mother’s wishes, and goes with Ingrid and her brother, to find his father. He is given a magical dragon’s tooth which belonged to his grandfather, to protect him. Along the way Brockwell must face his fears and encounters many obstacles. I cannot tell you the ending. 🙂
What did you enjoy the most about writing the story?
I really enjoyed researching the Vikings way of life. I learned a lot! I enjoyed researching Old Norse names for the names of the characters. And I loved creating my own type of dragons and deciding what they would be used for in the village. I wanted them to be unique and the babies adorable.
If you could own a dragon, what would it look like?
Hmmm, my dragon would be hot pink, with scales that shine like the colours of the rainbow. It would be more cute than scary. It would probably also have a silver heart on its side, as I love anything with hearts.
What would people get out of the story?
Brockwell the Brave provides an insight into the world of the Vikings and teaches some of the Icelandic language. The story is a fun adventure with a magical component. It challenges gender stereotypes of both boys and girls. It teaches a child it is okay to be themselves, and that they can face their fears.
Where can people buy Brockwell the Brave?
Brockwell the Brave is available as an ebook and a paperback. It can be purchased from many online bookstores which are listed on my website, and from me directly, via my website.
Gender stereotypes are generalisations made about how males and females should behave and what they should like and do. The claim applies to all people of that gender. These roles are inacccurate, as each human being has individual desires, thoughts and feelings, which are not dependent on being male and female. Therefore, gender stereotypes are simplistic, but many people believe them.
For example, all males:
• wear blue • like to play with cars and trucks when they are boys. They don’t play with dolls, only action figures. • like to work on cars • like rough sports • do dirty jobs, not secretarial work • enjoy outdoor activities such as camping and fishing • do not do housework and they are not responsible for taking care of children • do not sew or do crafts For example, all females: • wear pink • like to play with dolls • are not as strong as males • like caring roles • love to sing and dance • like to wear makeup and look pretty • do not do dirty jobs • like to wear high heels, frilly clothes and dresses
These stereotypes may be true for some males and females, but they are not true for all. And it is this fact that is brought to light in Brockwell the Brave,.Brockwell Ness is described as a quiet, gentle boy who likes to spend time at the healing hut. He is a carer by nature. Brockwell also likes to go to the markets and buy the food for his mother. These are not what boys do in the Viking village, and Mr Ness, Brockwell’s father does not cope well with this. He doesn’t like that his son is different and likes to do ‘women’s work’.
In the story, Brockwell’s best friend, Ingrid Gulbrand, is a strong female. She still does tasks considered to be ‘women’s work’, so is more accepted. There were some female warriors in the Viking era, so she was not totally out of place, like Brockwell was.
The story brings to light that boys and girls are individuals, and their gender is only a part of who they are. Their genders do not define Brockwell and Ingrid as people.
If you find yourself avoiding situations, places or activities, anxiety and worry may be the cause.
In the story, Brockwell has two fears, One is his bully, Colden, who picks on him constantly. And the second is the juvenile and adult dragons that Brockwell is expected to feed.
Brockwell found it very hard to face his fears. He would experience worry, panic attacks and avoid the situations which triggered them.
The solution to fear, is facing what makes you anxious. Brockwell faced Colden and the dragons, and found that he was able to deal with them both.
Brockwell felt he could only deal with them because of the dragon’s tooth he was given by Mrs Gulbrand. Did this tooth really have power or did it give Brockwell the inner belief that he could stand up to his adversities?
Here are five tips for facing fears: 1. When you are trying something new, or something that you have been worried about, it is normal to feel panicky – don’t let this stop you.
2. Taking deep breaths can help calm you when you are feeling anxious.
3. Try not to leave a situation because you are anxious, instead leave when your anxiety has begun to fade away.
4. Set yourself some goals, and reward yourself every time you reach your goal.
5. Have family and friends support you.
Bullying is the purposeful attempt at controlling another person. There are many ways this can happen. For example, verbal abuse such as tone of voice or teasing, threats and name calling; physical bullying; and exclusion. Bullying is usually not considered a once-off occurrence, but involves multiple instances.
In Brockwell the Brave, the village bully, Colden has it in for Brockwell. He teases Brockwell by calling him, ‘It’s Brocky Ness who wears a dress’. Colden also physically hurts him. We see this in the markets. Brockwell is scared of Colden and Colden knows it. This fear means that Brockwell is under Colden’s control which encourages Colden to keep on being mean. We find out at the end that Colden is hurting and being a bully is making him feel better about himself. This is a common scenario.
So why does bullying happen?
There are a variety of reasons:
• Cultural causes – a culture that likes power, winner and violence • Institutional causes – if a home, school or workplace allows bullying • Social Issues – when being a bully gets more attention from others than being well behaved • Family Issues – where children are not loved or suffer abuse or neglect • The Bully’s Personal History – children who have experienced rejection are more likely to bully • Having Power – people with power may use it in the wrong way • Provocative victims – people who are annoying or aggressive may be bullied
Bullies can change while others remain the same for their entire lives. In the story, Colden does change, when Brockwell identifies what is causing Colden to pick on him. In the end of the story they become friends.
Resilience is what gives people the psychological strength to cope with adversities. It is the mental strength that people are able to call on in the tough times. It will carry them through without falling apart. Resilient people face their difficulties head on.
We see this in the story when Brockwell is dealt with many hardships on his journey to rescue his father. He falls over in the forest, nearly drowns in the creek, tumbles down the hill, encounters a bear and dragons. All of these would be enough for anyone to give up and let someone else do the job. But not Brockwell. He taps into his inner mental strength and continues on.
At the end of the story, Brockwell emerges stronger. This is what often happens when people are resilient.
Mentally strong people also tend to have the support of family and friends. In the story, Ingrid and Gosta were with Brockwell. At one point Gosta did ask if Brockwell wanted to give up, but Brockwell by that time, was determined to find his father, and declined the suggestion.
Here are some factors that are associated with resilience:
• Holding positive views about themselves and their abilities • The capacity to make realistic plans and stick to them • Feeling like they have control over a situation and are able to make choices to influence the event • Being a good communicator • Viewing themselves as fighters rather than victims • Managing their emotions effectively • Being able to problem solve
In the story we see Brockwell problem solving on the way home. He also feels that he has control over the situation. And finally after his father has been rescued, and he is home, Brockwell receives an impressive reward. an you be like Brockwell and face your fear
Twelve-year-old Viking, Brockwell Ness, lives on a dragon farm in the village of Enga. He would prefer to be at the healing hut rather than at home with the scary juvenile and adult dragons or around the village where Colden picks on him. When Brockwell’s father doesn’t come back from a mission to capture an injured dragon, he has to make a decision. Will Brockwell be able to face his giants?