We at Sweet Cherry Publishing are incredibly proud to announce that Myra king author of Apley Towers: The lost Kodas has been shortlisted for The People’s Book Prize.
Head over to The People’s Book Prize website, register and vote now!
Read this heartwarming message from Myra discussing her Apley Towers journey to being a People’s Book Prize finalist.
There has always been a certain magic around Apley Towers.
Growing up I had known that I would one day write about horses and the joy of riding them, but the series seemed to walk on sunbeams once I got to England. As though it had been waiting for me.
I’d started writing the books when I was nineteen. The stable (and series) was then called Chestnut Hooves and set in Johannesburg, South Africa. The three leads were named Mia, Angela and Kim. There was no girl in Canada. And most disturbingly, there was no group called The Lost Kodas. The story was there, the first four books were written … but there was no magic.
Skip ahead a few years then. I had lived and worked in the United States, I had moved to England, and then I became a mother to a child constantly threatening revolution. Seemingly out of nowhere the story rewrote itself in my head to include all I had done, seen, and learned. I also realised half way through rewriting the books that, although Johannesburg has some fine points to it, the city is just like any other city on earth. I needed to move the setting to a much more South African location. And so my fictional town on the east coast was born. The girls changed with the setting, and eventually, the stable did as well. When it came time to rename it, I decided to join my two favourite places in England: Apley Woods and Tower Bridge.
And so the series as you know it was born.
And then my courage ran out.
The books were fresh and newly named, but that didn’t mean someone would want to publish them. I put them away and went on with my life.
And here’s where the magic began …
I’d gone without seeing horses for years and now I was constantly tripping over them. The empty field behind my house suddenly became home to an equine herd, while the forest I walked through every day seemed to be the playground to mischievous ponies. Horses and riders were on every TV channel, no matter the time of day. I was inundated with the very world I wished to immortalise through words. But still I fought it all; my fear greater than my drive.
One quiet Saturday at the library, a gaggle of teenage girls made a rush for the shelves and picked them clean. But one of their cohorts eyed the books and chose nothing. As the group checked their books out, the last girl approached the librarian with empty arms and asked, “Don’t you have any new horse books?” The librarian responded with: “There hasn’t been a new horse series in years. It’s time for one.”
If that wasn’t a nudge from the universe, I don’t know what is.
Was I terrified as I walked home to submit my manuscript to a publisher? Of course, I was. It’s easier to say ‘no’ to authors than to say ‘yes’.
Was I terrified as a publisher said yes to me? Not so much.
My fear had no choice but to move aside for my drive.
It wasn’t easy to write Apley, nor was it easy to edit. It was terrifying to launch, and even scarier to promote, but the thought of girls walking out of the library with my books in their arms kept me going. It still does.
My favourite part of being published is having people meet my characters because then they become their characters.
I’m not sure what will happen at the People’s Book Prize ceremony. I’m not sure if I’ll walk away with any awards.
But it’s okay if I don’t.
Just by existing, Apley Towers is already my winner.