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Having at long last escaped the perils of my last expedition, I have returned to the safety of my outpost. The danger was actually not as severe as I first thought. Indeed, the challenge brought with it some pleasant surprises and has given me a renewed strength.

And now, here I sit. Once more in solitude. Listening as the fireplace crackles wildly and echoes about the spacious keep. Aside from the company I share with the flames, everything else remains in an eerie silence. I guess you could say that it is a silence of three parts.

The first part is the silence that comes when even the fierce creatures of this land shun attention. As though something else lurks in the shadows, something more sinister – watching, waiting, willing a beast to muster its courage. It is an ominous silence. One that awaits another’s mistake and the cry that follows. Only when it does will the land collectively let out its breath and the silence will pass.

Yet the second silence – this silence will not disappear – not tonight. It is the silence that covers the land like a blanket. It is expectancy, and cannot be broken by sound. This silence flows through all writers that inhabit these infernal lands. It is the vocal resonance that meets their incursions into the literary world. It is the deafening reminder that they are alone in their quest to find readers and that even their greatest efforts will be tempered by the power of the five kingdoms.

The third silence however, is far more pleasant. It is the silence that soars above all others when given the chance. It is the brief and local silence that invades when the author once more becomes a reader. It is a silence that only a good book can create. This kind of silence, though sought by every writer, is a difficult and mysterious secret to learn – as if the wind itself had a name.

Thankfully, in the multitude of silences, I have also found the time to go over my notes – scrawls of ink that record my dealings with literary merchants, observations and simple reveries. I have also been able to peruse the growing collection of letters, packages and parchments brought to this outpost by the messengers of the four winds. And finally, I have found the time to rest –albeit only briefly.

I shall remain at this outpost for a few days at least. Repairing the decrepit structures and building new ones. I shall reach out to those who have followed my journey to this point and will take some time to map out a new strategy for the next book.

For those interested, it is titled Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32, and it centres around a mysterious place called the Hotel of Hoo. In this book two guests explore the strange hotel. They are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.

My aim for this picture book is to take children beyond the first ten cardinal numbers, and introduce them to the patterns of counting in a fun and accessible way. With rooms to explore and unique objects to count, I hope children will enjoy lingering on each page as they make their way closer to the forbidden door.

The coming expedition which will take this story to the world will most certainly be a big one. Perhaps the biggest yet and I am excited for it to begin. My hope is that it will be received well. My concern of course, is silence.

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