• Author Interview: Sarah Mussi, Here be Wizards

    As the Snowdonia Chronicles are completed with the publication of Here be Wizards, we talked to Sarah Mussi about her inspirations for the series, Welsh mythology, and golems ...

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  • The Snowdonia Chronicles trilogy concludes with Here be Wizards ...

    Award-winning young-adult author Sarah Mussi has revealed that Here be Wizards, the final book in her Snowdonia Chronicles series, will be released on 6 February.

    Set in the Welsh mountains and steeped in mythological history, Here be Wizards concludes the modern-day adventures of Ellie Morgan, a teenager raised on the slopes of Mount Snowdon. When Ellie becomes embroiled in an ancient battle between the Red Dragon of Wales and the evil White Dragon of Wessex, she and her friends must undergo a series of perilous quests to save Snowdon and Ellie's one true love, Henry.

    Sarah's first novel, The Door of No Return, won the Glen Dimplex Children’s Book Award and was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award. Her second novel, The Last of the Warrior Kings, was shortlisted for the Lewisham Book Award, inspired a London Walk, and is used as a textbook in Lewisham schools. Her thriller, Siege, was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal (2014) and won the BBUKYA award for contemporary YA fiction. Her thriller, Riot, was longlisted for The Amazing Book Award among many others and won The Lancashire Schools Award. In 2015, Hodder Children’s Books published her novel, Bomb, followed shortly after by Here Be Dragons, the first book in the Snowdonia Chronicles trilogy, published by Vertebrate Publishing. Here Be Witches is the second title in the trilogy.

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  • What’s next for the Fantastic Female Adventurers?

    Caption: Beth French taking a 0’c swim, thirty metres below the surface of Hintertux Glacier. Photos taken by Berth's son Dylan. 

    Thought about your New Year's resolutions? If you haven't quite got around to it yet, find out what the unstoppable Fantastic Female Adventurers have got planned in 2020. You'll soon be psyched to explore all the wonders the outdoors has to offer.

    Lily Dyu – author of Fantastic Female Adventurers 

    Lily is a keen cyclist and runner, and has taken part in the Manaslu stage race, a part-circumnavigation of the world's eighth highest mountain.

    Her plans for 2020 include:

    • 'Writing a new children's book
    • Getting back out into the Welsh hills after spending so much of 2019 chained to my laptop
    • Fastpacking the Tour Monte Rosa Circuit and the North Devon Coast path
    • Heading up to one of my favourite places in the world – the far north-west of Scotland'

    Phew! She's got a busy year ahead!

    Ann Daniels – Polar explorer

    Ann became an explorer after answering an advert looking for ordinary people to join an all-female team on an expedition to the North Pole in 1997. In October next year, as part of a team of explorers, she will complete a trek across the Antarctic on the route planned by Ernest Shackleton. In 1915, he set out from Plymouth, intending to lead the first coast-to-coast traverse via the South Pole, but the expedition had to be abandoned when the team’s ship, Endurance, became trapped in the Antarctic ice and sank. With the 1,800-mile route left unconquered, the Shackleton 2020 expedition intends to follow Shackleton’s original course, beginning in Vahsel Bay and heading to McMurdo South via the South Pole in 100 days. 

    But that's not her only adventure next year, before then, in March, she is taking part in an expedition put together by Martin Hartley, who is also on the team. 'We will set out from the most northerly point of land to locate, photograph, map, analyse and track the last surviving fragments of the last remaining, and soon to be extinct, areas of multi-year ice on the Arctic Ocean before it’s gone forever. At the moment I am deep in training for this important expedition.'

    Karen Darke – Paralympic cyclist

    Karen is currently training for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, but she thinks this will be the last time she competes because other adventures are calling … In 2017 she embarked on the Quest 79 project – a series of gruelling global adventures to raise £79,000 for the Spinal Injury Association. She has already completed an arm-powered land speed record attempt at Battle Mountain and 3,000 kilometres from Canada to Mexico in 2017; in 2018 she cycled 1,500 kilometres along the River Ganges and 2,500 kilometres along Australia’s Murray River; and in 2019 she completed 1,250 kilometres of high-altitude riding through Ethiopian mountains in the world’s biggest open bike race and 1,200 kilometres along the Atlantic Coastal Trail from the UK to Spain. Next year, she’s taking a journey of unknown scale through the ice and wilderness of Antarctica. 

    Karen has another incredible challenge planned for 2022. Scroll down to the bottom to read about the Pole of Possibility and see how you can get involved. 

    Emma Timmis – runner and adventure athlete

    At the age of twenty-seven Emma became the first woman to run the Freedom Trail – a 2,400-kilometre rough track from Durban to Cape Town in South Africa. She has completed multiple expeditions including a run across Africa, from Nambia to Mozambique; a journey across the Netherlands on roller-skates; a solo walk along the 670-kilometre Australian Alpine Walking Track; and an 8,000-kilometre ride across Australia on a stand-up bike.

    Next year Emma is taking time out this year to recover from injury: 

    ‘I have permanently moved out to New Zealand and now live in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world.  Due to injury I'm not training for any big adventures at the moment but am busy working on my art and illustrating my children's book about running across Africa. Once my leg is fixed I have many adventures I want to complete.’

    We can’t wait to hear about them and we’re looking forward to reading her new children’s book!

    Beth French – ocean swimmer 

    Diagnosed with ME at the age of seventeen, Beth found refuge in open water. In 2012 she swam the English Channel and she was the first person to swim twenty-six miles from Cornwall to the Isle of Scilly.

    When we asked her about her plans for next year she said, ‘Recently I have been swept along in a different direction by a very different challenge to those I have tackled. No more distance, but a new kind of endurance. New frontiers. Tackling the cold. Unimaginable cold. I have hiked inside a glacier and swum in 0’c water in a bikini. So this next year, I am taking part in the British ice swimming championships – the first competition since I was eleven years old – and I am looking to swim passed an iceberg by the end of the year ...’

    Tori James – the first Welsh woman to climb Everest 

    In 2007, Tori battled temperatures of -40C and crippling illness to climb the world’s tallest peak. Taking the same South Col route climbed by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, she reached the summit of Everest on 24 May 2007 becoming the first Welsh woman and the youngest British woman (at the time) to climb to the top of Everest. 

    In 2020, she says, ‘My biggest adventure will no doubt be the arrival of my second child which is due in June. Before then I plan to complete the final few miles of the entire Pembrokeshire Coast Path with my dad. We have been walking it in sections for the last seven years and have ONE DAY to go to reach its most northerly point and complete this incredible 186 mile coastal path. 

    I’ll also be celebrating the twenty-year anniversary of my first overseas expedition which was to the Vatnajokull Glacier in Iceland with British Exploring in 2000. I want to raise awareness of the incredible expedition opportunities available with British Exploring and the charity’s drive to create equal access to adventure for all.

    I’ll be out in the Cambrian Mountains of mid-Wales assessing Gold DofE groups.

    And in my role as President of Girlguiding in Wales I will continue to encourage girls to reach their potential, bust stereotypes and use the outdoors to both challenge and learn more about themselves.

    Also look out for my new website which will be arriving in early 2020.’

    Sarah Outen – athlete and adventurer 

    Sarah was the first woman and the youngest person to row solo across the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Alaska. In 2015 she completed a round-the-world journey by boat, bicycle and kayak. 

    She said, 'Next year I am ...

    • Writing a children's book
    • Continuing training as a psychotherapist
    • Going to Malawi on a hiking adventure 
    • Planning to do some more adventures with our donkeys.'

    Now adventures with your donkey is a niche we hadn't thought of!

    To find out more about the Fantastic Female Adventures, click HERE to buy a copy of the book.

    In January 2020, the Pole of Possibility challenge will see a small, diverse team of mixed age and ability take a journey to 79 degrees latitude and longitude. The aim will be to inspire thousands of young people to believe in themselves, their dreams and the possibility that they can help solve globe issues such as climate change. A live broadcast will be transmitted to young people around the world. 

    Karen is looking for seventy-nine people, families, groups, schools and businesses to raise or donate £2,000 per group in return for a place on a flag planted at the Pole of Possibility. Any extra money raised will be given to The Spinal Injuries Association for whom the challenge will raise a minimum of £79,000.

    Why seventy-nine? Karen won gold – the seventy-ninth medal for her country – in the Rio Paralympic Games 2016. Seventy-nine is also the atomic number of gold, representing the inner strength within all of us to make a difference. 

    The highest fundraisers will win some great prizes and there will also be a prize draw for all the teams taking part. The prizes up for grabs include a visit to Williams Formula 1 and a place in a team car following the last stage of the Tour of Britain. 

    Click HERE for more information and fundraising ideas. 

    If you’d like to participate, you can email Karen on

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  • The BMC and Vertebrate Publishing team up to send free books to school libraries

    The British Mountaineering Council has donated £500 to an initiative organised by independent publisher Vertebrate to send free copies of Lily Dyu’s Fantastic Female Adventurers: Truly amazing tales of women exploring the worldto schools.

    The funding will enable Vertebrate to send a free copy of the book to a school each time the book is purchased through the Shrine Bell (Vertebrate’s children’s book imprint) and Vertebrate Publishing websites. Those purchasing the book through these sites will be able to nominate the school they'd like a free copy to be sent to.

    Alex Messenger, Head of Marketing and Communications at The BMC, said, ‘Fantastic Female Adventures is an inspiring book, perfect for young climbers to read and encourage them in their own adventures. The BMC is delighted to be supporting this initiative by Vertebrate Publishing to provide free books to school libraries.’

    Featuring fourteen stories of women exploring the globe, including round-the-world cyclist Jin Jeong, ocean swimmer Beth French, mountain runner Mira Rai, Britain’s first astronaut Helen Sharman, and many more, the book was commissioned to inspire more young people, and adults, to have adventures in the outdoors at a time when the call for more books by and about people, particularly women, from different backgrounds has never been stronger.

    A proportion of the author’s royalties will be gifted to a number of charities chosen by the adventurers, including Girl Guiding, The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, The Spinal Injuries Association and Surfers Against Sewage.

    Fantastic Female Adventurers was published on 3 October. For more information, please visit



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  • Fantastic Female Adventurers and the International Day of the Girl

    We're celebrating The International Day of the Girl with a look in to the exciting pages of our new release, Fantastic Female Adventures.

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  • Matt Dickinson Takes Pupils to Mount Everest and Back

    Matt Dickinson, author of Popcorn-Eating Squirrels and The Everest Files, has recently been in China and spent a whole week at Wellington College in Shanghai leading discussions, presentations and workshops on the theme of Mount Everest to the children studying there.

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