by S.S. Dudley
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Something strange, something magical, is going on in the dusty hills behind the small town of Villaloma. Yet each time Linda Peters puts on her running shoes and sets out to find the enchanted kingdom she imagines—full of dancing elves, unicorns, and more—something stops her. And with school starting soon, she only has a few more chances to really search the hills.
While Linda’s frustration and doubt grow, her cousin, Nugu, looks for answers in his books and wonders if maybe, just maybe, Linda’s stories are for real.
The day finally arrives when Linda can run far, the day she is sure she will find her magic city. But when she and Nugu feel their goal must lie just beyond the next hill, they only find more hill.
Is it all a figment of an over-active imagination; a wistful fantasy?
Or is there truly something magical in those hills that only the strong of heart—and leg—can discover?
This fairy tale, as you might have guessed already, takes place on a hill. Or, rather, on many hills and a mountain or two in Northern California, near what people call the Great Valley. One hill in particular stands out, though, because that is where everything started. It was a nice hill; well rounded, not too high, not too low. It was distinctly a hill, snuggled up against a mountain like a nursing cub to its resting mother. For the most part this hill was well-dressed with dark green oak trees and tall grasses, usually yellowed and dry except for the four or five wet months of the year. Along one side, a seasonal creek slipped out and down into the plain. Here the vegetation—red-stemmed manzanita, prickly blackberry bushes, and other shrubs—was thick and difficult to move through.
From afar, the hill was not remarkable; it had many siblings stretching to the north and south as far as the eye could see. This hill was special, though. For one, a strange—some said magical—copse of trees stood near the base of the hill where the creek emerged. These trees were short, had long, dark-green leaves, and bore bright yellow fruit that, if eaten, were said to imbue a person with the strength of ten men. For another, the hill was haunted. On certain nights of the year a white light would shine from the very top of the hill. It was brighter than the brightest star; brighter even than a full moon, perhaps, and it cast long shadows across the plain. The first people that lived in the area told many stories about that hill, the light, and the spirits that lived there.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
S. S. Dudley grew up in Wyoming, USA, an avid reader and lover of the outdoors. He studied at the University of Wyoming and the University of Illinois. He started his first book (an epic fantasy hand-written in with a blue fountain pen…) when he was 13, but never finished it. At some point (as his mother recently reminded him), he decided that he needed to go do something (like get a job) for a while before he could, or should, write. He did, and spent time in Colombia, Panamá, Antarctica and the dark recesses of large science buildings on college campuses. That done, he now writes, lives and runs in Northern California with his wife and two children.
He can be found at
twitter at @SS_dudley.