The idea for The Gypsy Crown came out of the blue like a lightning bolt. This is how it happened.
When I was a little girl, I used to go and visit my Great-Aunt Bobby, an elderly and rather eccentric lady who always gave us tea out of fine bone china cups with violets on them. She had an old charm bracelet, passed down through the family for generations, and I used to like to look at all the charms and hear the stories behind them. Some of the charms were very old. The oldest of all was nothing but a small brown pebble, smooth from years of being rubbed for luck. It had been picked up from the banks of the River Thames by my great-great-great-great-grandmother, before she left England to travel the long and dangerous journey to Australia. I loved to hear this story, and wanted a charm bracelet of my own, one in which each charm had a story behind it.
Many years later, my great-aunt died and the charm bracelet was inherited by my mother. I remember having lunch with her, and she showed me the beautiful old bracelet, heavy with charms, and I remembered how much I had loved it as a little girl.
Then I thought to myself, imagine if a bracelet like this was broken and someone had to go on a quest to find all the lost charms. What an amazing quest story it would make.
Each charm could have some kind of meaning … each could be won only after some kind of adventure, the overcoming of obstacles, the payment of some kind of cost …
All the hairs rose on my arms. I felt a jolt of electricity run down my spine. It was a good idea, I knew it at once.
But who and where and when and why?
These are the key questions I always ask myself when a story idea comes to me. Sometimes it takes a long time to answer those questions. But in the case of The Gypsy Crown, the solution came to me at once, in a flash.
I had always wanted to be a Gypsy, ever since my grandmother had told me – perhaps jokingly – that there was Gypsy blood in our family. As a girl, I used to pretend to be a Gypsy all the time. I’d dress in a long, layered skirt in all different fabrics and a white embroidered blouse with puffed sleeves, and put on lots of gold bangles, and imagine I was travelling the roads of the world, barefoot and fancy-free . Sometimes on the weekend, in summer, my mother used to let my sister and brother and me light a campfire in our back garden and we’d camp out under the stars and cook sausages on sticks. I pretended I could play the violin so people could not help but dance, and that I had a pet monkey that caused all kinds of mischief.
I remembered this childhood fascination of mine, in what felt like less than a second after thinking of writing a story about a quest for a charm bracelet. Gypsies used to believe in charms and talismans, I thought. Surely they wore charm bracelets?
In my mind’s eye, I saw at once two Romany children – a boy and a girl – with flashing dark eyes and black curly hair, dressed in ragged, bright, old-fashioned clothes. The girl was laughing and dancing and clapping her hands, tattered skirts swirling about her dirty bare feet. The boy was playing a violin, a tiny monkey passing around her hat for coins. A grumpy old dancing bear danced too, a ring through her nose. From the shadows, a man with a sword watched, meaning them harm …
I wrote the first book, or section, of The Gypsy Crown in only three weeks, the fastest I’ve ever written a book. It just seemed to leap from my fingers.
(In Australia, The Gypsy Crown is the first in a series of 6 books. In the UK & the US and other territories, the series was published in a condensed version as one single book).
Kate Forsyth’s author website: www.kateforsyth.com.au
United States (and beyond)
United Kingdom (and beyond)
Australia (and beyond)
Writing Teen Novels