The Story of My Book: Chasing the Valley
A young Melbourne author makes her debut this month with the first book in a YA trilogy, Chasing the Valley. Here’s how it happened for recent law graduate and lifelong fantasy fan Skye Melki-Wegner.
I have always been a fantasy reader.
My father fed my love of the genre, reading Tolkien and Feist as bedtime stories. But even so, I hungered for more adventures. I raided Dad’s bookshelves, then the local library, propelled by the zeal that my friends reserved for tiggy and handball. I would spend a day subsumed in a riot of pages, before sneaking a book (‘Just one more chapter, I promise!’) beneath the blankets by torchlight.
I climbed the Magic Faraway Tree and tiptoed through Wonderland. I crept through the Mines of Moria, pursued the Orb of Aldur and traversed the alleys of Ankh-Morpork. I was nine when I ascended the Hogwarts staircases - wide-eyed at this dance of paintings and mysterious corridors - and snuck into the Forbidden Forest.
As I grew, I began to write my own stories. At university, I opted for the sensible choice, coupling my Arts degree with Law. But when my Arts units were spent, leaving only legal analysis to fill my brain, a familiar hunger emerged. I needed a creative outlet. A new world to explore.
I began to churn out fantasy manuscripts. I dreamed up worlds, characters, varieties of magic. The stories fled my fingers quickly, squeezed between studying, casual jobs and examinations.
One semester, I chose to study Human Rights Law. I learned about tyrannical governments, refugees, the horror of war and the desperation that drives people to flee their homelands. And amidst the flurry of essays and case law, the first line of a fantasy novel came to me.
‘It’s a quiet night when the bombs fall.’
The story followed quickly. I toned down the politics of my original idea - and amped up the action and adventure - but the spark remained. Teenage refugees in a tyrannical society. Magic. Death. Betrayal. A desperate flight towards a distant land.
The story I wrote was called Chasing the Valley. Ultimately, I wrote this book for my younger self: the kid who smuggled a torch beneath the blankets to explore a fantasy world. I hope that it gives new readers a taste of that adventure.