Legacy – n. sum or money or article bequeathed; material or immaterial thing handed down by predecessor.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the things we leave behind us, where we leave them and why. In my fantasy quartet for young readers, King Arthur leaves Excalibur in an enchanted lake after his mortally-wounded body is taken to Avalon, as well as three other magical objects scattered about the world of men. That's possibly why Templar chose to call my series The Pendragon Legacy. As heir to the Pendragon throne, his daughter Rhianna is also part of the legacy Arthur leaves behind - since she's all that stands between the glory of Camelot and her evil cousin Mordred, who seeks to destroy everything the king and his noble knights created.
|"Which book is your favourite?"
But having just added the final full stop to the proofread of the final book in the Pendragon Legacy quartet, I felt the need to leave something extra to mark its completion (and obviously a girl has to do something while she waits for the film deals to roll in).
|My study when I started the Pendragon Legacy series, with my unicorn muse overseeing things from the chimney breast.
Released from deadlines for the time being (except for this blog post – Ms Hoffman is very strict with us!), I’m tackling the redecoration of the chimney breast in my study, where water ran down the wall when my roof started leaking last winter. In the constant rainstorms we had, there was not much I could do at the time except turn my back on the unsightly mess and clamber up into the loft every morning to squeeze out the rags I’d stuffed in the roof, until I could persuade someone to come out and fix it. But now it’s stopped raining at last, so my thoughts turn once again to legacies.
|Desperate measures were needed.
The fact my chimney breast needs redecorating is partly due to the Pendragon Legacy books, which I was so busy writing at the time that I failed to notice how bad the chimney leak had become, until desperate measures were needed. So off came the poster of my unicorn-muse, who had valiantly hidden the worst of the leak for a while with his magical horn. Off came the red-painted woodchip wallpaper that used to scare potential house buyers away, in more or less one satisfying sheet - there are some advantages to having water running down your wall all winter! Off came half the paint underneath as well, leaving the patchy wall with its filled-in fireplace, legacy of a previous owner who clearly didn’t want the fuss of a real fire. And off came some of the ceiling too, ending up all over me.
At this point, covered in plaster dust and confronted by my bare wall, I paused, reminded of when my parents got around to stripping the old wallpaper in their dining room just before they sold their old house. It was the first time they’d redecorated that room since we'd moved into the place when I was seven. Behind several layers of wallpaper, they discovered graffiti dating back to 1932. The house was built in the 1920’s, so that might even have been the first time it was papered. The original decorator – and also later ones, following the tradition – had signed the wall. The latest date we found on the wall was 1967, which suggests the décor was refreshed just before my parents bought the house, and survived until 2010 when they downsized. I didn't have my camera with me at the time so I haven't got a picture to show you, but I did persuade my dad to sign the wall as well before the new wallpaper went up.
Although my current house was built in 1936, my chimney breast had collected no graffiti - until now! I couldn’t resist drawing a dragon and adding my own signature to show that The Pendragon Legacy series was responsible for the redecoration. What future owners will make of this when they strip off the new paper I'm about to paste over it, I don’t know! But it seemed an appropriate legacy to leave behind.
Have you ever left a legacy in a house, and if so where?
You can meet Rhianna in the first Pendragon Legacy book Sword of Light, and she's an old enough "book-child" now to have made her way on to the Tower Hamlets shortlist.Find out more about the Pendragon Legacy series at http://www.katherineroberts.co.uk