It’s tough being a thirteen-year old schoolboy, especially when you’re a coward and the big brother who stuck up for you is dead. Oh, and you’ve been thrust into a magical realm you’re expected to save single-handedly. Sebastian Duffy has to learn an awful lot of skills in a hurry if he is to defeat Phobitor by stealing the Spear of Lugh from the peace-loving Tuath. He’s been given some help of course–a mercurial sorceress, an orphaned druidess, a taciturn warrior, a snuff-sniffing leprechaun and a lovelorn poet– an outfit known as the Hibernauts, but can he really overcome a psychopathic, warmongering god when half the realm is bent on his destruction? If he is to have the remotest chance he will have to do deal with aiia, cluricaun, brigands, woodwose, undead warriors, speckled bats, spies, hunkypunks, traitors, skeletons and battle-swine first. And are those Tuath really so peaceable? If only he could find his courage.
Praise for The Traitor’s Trap
An imaginative epic…an intricate and fully realised fantasy world with a big cast of likeable characters that are charming, well drawn and endearing, with wonderfully apt names. The depth and breadth of the author’s high-voltage imagination, and the richness of the world created is very impressive.
~Sam Mills, author of Blackout, The Boys Who Saved the World, and The Quiddity of Will Self
I cannot say just how much I have enjoyed this book … a very accomplished writer with a wonderfully rich imagination and an incredibly inventive mind. Readers will come to love the many wonderful creations in this novel, it is jam-packed with the most wonderful and inventive characters; new, exciting and beautifully realized. ~Cherry Mosteshar, author of Unveiled: One Woman’s Nightmare in Iran
Brendan Murphy was raised in Sheffield, England, with dreams of becoming a writer, and has written every day since he was nine years old. After reading medicine in London and psychiatry in Manchester, he moved to Australia in 1999. He is an Associate Professor at Monash University and has written widely on youth mental health. His nonfiction work on the development of football in Victorian society, From Sheffield with Love, was published in 2007. He is contracted to Assent Publishing for his six-book fantasy series, Sebastian and the Hibernauts. The first adventure, Beyond the Gloaming was published in 2014 and the sequel, The Traitor’s Trap, in 2015. He is a columnist for Aontacht magazine. He lives with his wife, Katrina, and their children, Sebastian and Violette, in a sprawling property built for the composer, Dorian Le Gallienne. They share their garden with a mob of kangaroos, a wombat, two possums, any number of creepy crawlies, and some very feisty kookaburras.
We are all mayflies
I have always wanted to help, to heal. It is in my nature. And nature is where it first manifested. As a child I would dawdle on my way to school, feasting on blackberries, smelling flowers, chasing butterflies, collecting acorns and conkers, seeing how far I could walk with my eyes shut, or scrutinising twigs and stones. On rainy days, I would pause to rescue stranded worms from certain death, airlifting them from the sea of pavement they were navigating to the safety of the hedgerows. And what a cussing I would get for my inconsiderateness as I flew through the classroom door at the bell. During the mayfly season I’d be out the door as quick, hurrying home to rescue the hatchlings from drowning in what passed as a pond in our garden, a scene I refashioned for Sebastian in Silverhand, Book 3 of Sebastian and the Hibernauts (due out 2016):
“Sebastian made do catching up on sleep and sitting at the edge of the lake with his net, snaring the bright blue froglets and bottle green toadlets. Accompanied by Quilliog, or Blodwyn, or Porrig, he hardly noticed his friends as he delicately handled the tiny creatures before freeing them. One afternoon, as he gazed at the water boatmen skidding across the surface, he thought of the weeks following Flynn’s death, when he was first confined to the house. He would sit in the garden for hours making liferafts from leaves, using them to ferry to safety the mayflies hatching upon the water-filled trough, blissfully unaware that their lifespan only lasted a matter of hours.”
As a little boy, I was exquisitely sensitive to the suffering of others, human, animal or otherwise. I would flinch if flowers were plucked negligently. And all the fallen rose petals would be gathered into a saucer and praised. I made little distinction between fauna and flora, kingdoms or phyla or class; life was life and if I could help it I would. Young as I was, I had a primitive awareness that to help meant alleviating pain or preventing death. An instinctive desire for the first appears self-evident to the human condition, but what of the second, thornier, instinct. From where did the sinister knowledge of death arise? And how does one reconcile the precocious awareness of the value of life with reincarnation or an afterlife? Does it end with darkness? Is nature it, and all the more blessed for it, or are the ever renewing and everlasting as precious as the transient? Perhaps instinct is unaware of the soul’s great secrets. More’s the pity.
No doubt my sensitivity was augmented by Celtic parents who were both attuned in their own way to creatures great and small. I am also a Sagittarian; of all the astrological signs the one with the greatest affinity to animals . Cynics argue that altruism for animals has base roots, that one is projecting personal pain or anthropomorphizing nature. Maybe for some. For myself, I perceive within an uninterrupted awareness of my place within nature, whilst the knowledge of nature’s position within humanity sits without. The deep-rooted certainty of my position is the fundamental tenet I have lived by. That I chose to heal humans for a living does not contradict this, if anything it confirms my position on the tree of life. It was not merely the genetic distance from chlorophyll-loving cousins that impelled me to medicine, however, there were other reasons; intolerance to the suffering of animals ruled out veterinary medicine (similar sentiments subsequently dismissing pediatrics as a specialty); our family already had a priest; I thought I felt a calling to the medical profession; my parent’s latched onto the idea once brought up; and Nurse Susan was cute as a button in the comic strip I read as a child.
Nurse Susan resurfaced when I was interviewed for a place at Westminster Medical School, in 1981. Back then, getting into medicine with a state school education was almost impossible. Getting into a London medical school from a state school in the north of England was even harder, the perception of northerners as uncultured monkeys subsisting on beers, chips and gravy only slightly worse than it is today. Hitching down from Oxford on the morning of the interview didn’t exactly help my chances. I had been visiting my wonderfully eccentric friend, Donovan, and we had partied late. I woke to a thunderstorm and was thoroughly drenched by the time I arrived in London. My shoes were so sodden and muddy I asked one of the other candidate’s in the waiting room if they minded slipping their’s off to lend to me. Hat’s off to him, he obliged. Having taken in students since 1719, the cohort being interviewed was to be Westminster Hospital’s final intake, the school merging with Charing Cross Medical School a few years later. No doubt they wanted their last students to be a cut above the rest. In I plodded, thinking I had no chance and nothing to lose. So when they asked why I wanted to be a doctor I told them about Nurse Susan. Without a word, the panel turned to each other and smiled. I was thanked for making the trip and told that I would hear from them in due course. And so it became my alma mater.
I had intended to be a surgeon, but one thing and another led me to psychiatry, in large because I felt it the most rounded way to help others, to make the biggest impact on their overall quality of life. As an author, I have grown up on literature. Most everything I have learned about how to be in life I have discovered in novels; within them resides my key to understanding the human condition, its motivations, aspirations, conflicts, and frailties. I believe that has put me in good stead as a therapist. Each patient is a new book to open and to help. Each has a unique narrative that is an essential privilege to hear. Indeed, whatever else I needed to know about the human condition has not come from medical school or psychiatry training, but from patients, family and friends. And just as books reached out to me and taught me to reach into them, so I have learned to reach into patients, to connect with them and understand them as fully as possible, to understand the impact the illness has had on them, how it has changed them, what they can learn from the process, and what can be brought to bear to move them forwards, into the light. This connectedness relies primarily on an understanding of the person, not the illness; the latter is a secondary phenomenon impacting them, notwithstanding that the impact can be catastrophic. To truly understand a person’s psyche requires an exploration of their social and spiritual milieu, as well as the thoughts, emotions and behavior that make up their personality. The more one knows the more one can tailor the healing process to that person. All points of the compass are explored: from reality to spirituality, conscious to unconscious, dreams to waking, and the inner world to the revealed. I believe the spark of healing has been forever within me. Whatever elements were fused within to form it, I am truly grateful, honored and humbled, and I believe it my duty to help and heal as many souls as I can, within reason. I have a deep admiration for patients and form a solid therapeutic bond with them based on mutual trust and likeness. The passionate love of nature that courses through me doubtless influences my therapy, and strategies to nourish the spirit are suggested as often as psychotherapy or medication. Yoga, T’ai Chi, meditation, exercise and walks amongst nature are all regularly prescribed.
I imagine the spark will still be glowing deep into my winter, fanned by an irresistible urge to assist others whether they are human, animal or insect, no doubt reflecting an atavistic urge to connect with nature. Which brings me back to the shortest living animal and my earliest attempts at resuscitation. Mayflies have a lifecycle of a day. With a turn of the sun they live and die, emerging as duns to dance across the water before maturing into spinners and rising up to mate; later parting, the females to lay their eggs upon the surface before collapsing, spent, the males in search of land to die upon beneath the lengthening shadows. We are all mayflies, fleeting and beautiful, living within a turn of our souls. Let’s soar together.
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