Monday, December 7, 2009

Merry Christmas!

And so in the spirit of the festive season, here's my offering to you all this Christmas. Merry Christmas, and may you all know the true spirit of peace, from him who is the Prince of Peace,

The B Team

Twas the night before Christmas and at the North Pole
There was moaning and groaning and stoking of coal.
“Get off me,” said Dancer, “and stay on your side!”
“Can’t avoid you!” sniffed Prancer. “You’re five miles wide!”

“Stop squabbling,” said Dasher. “It’s nobody’s fault.
Here – try this with lemon – or maybe some malt.”
“That’s disgusting,” said Vixen. “I can’t drink that stuff!”
“Then STAY ill,” snapped Comet, “Let’s see who’s so tough!”

“This swine flu’s a nightmare,” groaned Cupid. “I’m hot!”
“And everything’s running – I’m pouring with snot!”
“Well, who cares!” bit Donner. “That’s not my concern!
My problem’s that sleigh and who’ll take my turn!”

“We’re all in the same boat,” said Blitzen with gloom.
“Be quiet!” hissed Rudolph. “He’s in the next room!”
“I don’t care!” snorted Vixen, tossing his head.
“I won’t pull that sleigh! I’d rather be dead!”

“That’s always an option, that snow’s deep, I’m bettin’.”
“That blizzard I’m seein’ shows no signs of lettin’!”
Said Rudolph, “Each year it’s the same sad depression,
The same ugly outfits of leather and hessian.”

“The fact that he’s paying us time and a half
Means naught when it’s all I can do not to barf!”
Dancer threw himself down on the floor in a snit,
Kicked in Prancer’s direction who returned a sound hit.

“Hate th’ hol’days,” said Cupid, from a mountain of tissues
“All those presents to haul and those brats and their issues!”
“I say that we strike, give ourselves one night off,”
“I cant work with this fever, this sneeze and this cough!”

And so it went on – all the grumbling and bitching
Interspersed with their moaning and groaning and itching.
And none of them noticed the crack in the door,
And the man who was there now who wasn’t before.

As they cursed at the flu and their jobs and the weather
Santa drew his great bushy brows down hard together.
“*Enough!*” he cried out, “you ungrateful deer!
You haven’t the tiniest scrap of Yule cheer!”

“I’m taking the B Team,”said Santa with ire.
“By all means stay home and complain by the fire!”
“The B Team??? You’re joking!” (said through laughter and wheezing)
“Oh come on now, Santa, you’ve got to be teasing!”

“Do I look like I’m joking?” – and their laughter grew quiet.
“Frankly, some of you pudgies could go on a diet!
You’re not the crack squad that you once used to be;
Not so much of an A now - you’re more like…a D!”

“SO GET ME MY B TEAM! And be quick about it!
My word here is law, despite how you flout it!”
For a second a shocked sort of silence ensued;
“GET MOVING!” yelled Santa, his anger renewed.

Ten minutes passed quickly, then ten more, then five….
Till finally the B Team began to arrive.
“Hello Santa,” said Slasher, “How’s the wife and the kids?
Nice to see you…I wouldn’t have missed this for quids!”

“Er, yes, hallo Slasher…now where is your mate?
Why is it the B Team is always so late?”
“They’re coming, they’re coming – we had no idea
That we’d be on duty for delivery this year.”

“I’m pretty sure Vomit is stuck in the john,
But Gonner and Stupid will be right along!
I last saw ol’ Screwdolph wedged under a bar
While Splitzen cajoled him to let go the jar!”

“The rest…I’m not sure, though it might be worthwhile
To check the casinos along Vegas Mile.
You know what they’re like, Nick, - they’re fine in the pink -
Best reindeer alive…till you give ‘em a drink!”

“They’re here!” said Saint Nicholas, relief plain in his voice,
It was clear that he questioned how wise was his choice.
“Line up in two’s please, we have work to do;
The A Team’s got swine flu – I’m counting on you!”

“Who? Us?” “He say me??” The deer whispered in doubt.
“Yes, YOU!” bellowed Santa, who’d started to shout.
“You’re reindeer, it’s Christmas, now LINE UP EACH PAIR!
“Not a word! Not a whisper till we’re up in the air!”

“Ok Nick, we’re going, there’s no need to yell,
We didn’t expect this and hangover’s hell.”
Mumbled Splitzen, “I’d have dropped a few pounds if I’d known,
These days, after take-off, I’m pretty much blown!”

“Are you sure we can do this? I’m not all that certain…
Just thinking of exercise makes me start hurtin’…”
“Of course you can do it – you were born for this task...
But if you need some directions make sure that you ask!”

“Now Slasher! Now Chancer! Come on Necromancer!
Stop Vomit! Wait Stupid! Move, Gonna and Pantser!
And Splitzen, stop squirming – I know it’s too tight –
Lead us out, Reindeer Screwdolph…NOT LEFT! NOT LEFT! RIGHT!!

The hours ticked past and back at the house,
It wasn’t worth talking – not even to grouse.
Each reindeer was basking in knowing for sure
That – compared to the B Team! – they were cool to the core.

That bunch of no-hopers hadn’t one single chance
Of having the stamina to make it past France!
As for circling the globe – there was no chance of that!
The B Team was ugly and most of them fat!

They laughed to themselves as they pictured the scene,
And the more that they laughed, the more they grew mean.
They imagined the mess on each person’s front lawn -
Broken gifts, reindeer droppings - that would greet them at dawn.

And then as the sun had just started to rise
A horrible sight met the A Team’s cruel eyes.
As the night sky turned blue and the morning clouds red,
A golden glow shone in their sights, dead ahead.

Nine reindeer shot out of the last of the night,
And pulled up on the snow as the scene turned to light.
Nine reindeer as never had been seen before!
Glowing coats, deep, strong chests, and antlers galore!

“Who are you? What happened?” they asked all aghast,
And finally they saw he who rode them at last.
Saint Nicholas, our Santa, leapt out of his sleigh,
His heart bursting with joy on the fresh Christmas Day.

“Don’t you know them?” he asked his struck dumb caribou.
“Don’t they rather resemble…well, look like…well, you?
Oh – not as you now! – so judgmental and cruel,
When even God’s Son looks to you like a fool."

“But you as you once were – or were meant to be.
Before you chopped down your first Christmas tree.
When you understood giving was the one single reason
To be filled with real joy at each sacred Yule season."

"Well, this B Team, made up of the dumb and the slow,
Grasped the lesson that only the wise ever know.
As we traveled the world, met its children, its poor,
The B Team worked out what each Christmas is for."

"They gave of themselves, poured their hearts out for all,
The young and the old and the big and the small.
And with each gift they gave, I gave them one too;
From the inside I remade each one of them new."

"Each one of the B Team a new start received,
For each of them looked at the world and believed
That Christmas is not for a small, select few,
It’s for all men! And so Merry Christmas to you!"

Yours with joy this Yuletide season,

K.E. Stapylton

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Swine Flu and a Sense of Wonder on Thanksgiving

So here we are again - Thanksgiving in the United States - and as I write this I'm in my pyjamas in bed, Tylenol on one side of me, throat lozenges on the other, and tissues scattered all over the bed; I have swine flu!

It hit about 3 days ago and I ended up spending the night before last in the ER at Greenwich hospital reacquainting myself with the lovely Dr Stacy Donegan who has treated me there twice before; why *is* it that emergencies always hit in the middle of the night? Once again, the people there took great care of me, sent me away better than I arrived, and I seem to be slowly on the mend.

But not so mended that I was up to doing anything substantial for this Thanksgiving. Consequently I ate a lovely turkey roast dinner in my pyjamas in front of the tv, and am now propped up back in bed. The good thing about being sick is that it gives me time to write. Unfortunately, the bad thing about being sick is that it gives me no energy to write with. Consequently there will be a post this Thanksgiving, but a short one.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have journeyed with me to Prism. This year has been an enjoyable one. I've spoken in schools, had Prism read at book clubs, done my first ever radio interview, and had more positive feedback and contact with readers than I ever thought I would when I first picked up a pen and said to myself "I think I'll write a book..." People have reached out to me and to Prism in wonderful ways, and this Thanksgiving I'm grateful for anyone who has joined me in that wonderful world.

To that end, I wanted to include a book review I received from Jake, a 10 year old boy from New South Wales, Australia, who sent me a book review last week.

Jake - Prism was written for people just like you, and this Thanksgiving I'm thankful for you and for everyone like you who has visited Prism and enjoyed the color, the adventure, and the love that makes Prism the magical creation that it is.

So with no further ado....this, in its exact form, from Jake...

"The terror of prism fading – a book review by Jake Evans, November 2009

This book is one of the best books I have ever read.
It combines real world troubles with mythology and adventure
It’s also strange how red represents courage and the colours represent their emotions and feelings, green-intelligence, blue-joy, yellow-love

In the beginning Rabbit and Rupert get paired together in a school excursion to the coast and take a canoe and attempt to get to the other side of the river but half way across a group of bullies started chasing them and suddenly they were knocked into the water and couldn't breath. The storyline then switches to Prism and princess Aden wakes up after having a bad dream. Jasper a good friend of the princess then comes bursting into the room and tells her that 2 strange people have washed up onto the beach. The 2 people were Rabbit and Rupert. The story then continues with their adventure to try and retrieve the red crystal to help restore courage and the colour red to Prism after having previously been stolen by Addreadon le Griss. The reader is led on a journey with the main characters, Rabbit, Rupert, princess Aden, Jasper and Taw who is Aden’s chosen.

Rupert is my favorite character, because he is little like me.- he is smart and funny and he he loves his food
It’s amazing how all the animals talk, I especially like Taw who is a bull and he is a strong leader and helps the children on there quest to get the red crystal

I also like the griffons who have the body shape of a horse but look like eagles and attack the children many times throughout the book and they carry off Taw to Addreadon’s fortress to lure in the children who were already heading that way.

One thing I don’t like is that a lot of the animals have very long unusual names which are difficult to remember, like Merryweather – a horse and Beaufeather – a peacock

I think it’s funny that Rabbit, Rupert, Aden, and Jasper thought they would have to scavenge for food but the animals in the forest befriended and helped them and gave them a lot of food, weapons and armour.

I can’t wait for the next book"

Neither can I, Jake. Neither can I.

Yours gratefully,

K.E. Stapylton

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Where Have I Been?

My apologies for being away from this blog for so long. A lot’s been happening – both in the world of Prism and also in the world of K.E. Stapylton.

The first half of this year saw me throw myself into the second book in the Prism series – The Deeper Darkness. Set largely underwater, I’ve rapidly discovered that this is a very difficult venue in which to set a novel! The difficulties center predominantly around movement; nobody just walks underwater – they have to manage a combination of swimming, gliding and floating. If somebody is cross, there’s no chance of flouncing out of a room - the most one can ever hope for is a jerky kind of swimming motion. The big difficulty, of course, is if the story contains (as mine does) a character who is unable to swim. Throughout the novel, one of my characters changes location either by a very slow sort of walking along the bottom of the ocean, or by being tied to another character and towed. This becomes extremely difficult in scenes of danger where one would normally ‘turn tail and run’. Time, instead, has to be written into the story for the character in question (no hints!) to be attached to another character who can swim, or an alternate route of escape needs to be devised. And most curious of all was overcoming the difficulty of sleeping! Do characters simply float out of the bed when they sleep? And what do they use for bedding? Is one aware of sleeping under wet blankets? And, if so, isn’t that generally disgusting?

A concept which seemed like a great idea at the time rapidly became a logistical nightmare. However, being stubborn as I am, and being unfailingly entranced with the idea of an action novel set underwater, I was loath to give up the idea, so persevered. Consequently, however, the progress of the book has been slow and difficult, and my ingenuity has been tested! Hopefully the release of Book 2 will prove that my perseverance and original concept were worthwhile.

August saw me take a trip home to Australia to visit family and friends, and while there I did a radio interview with Ariane Minc on 2SER FM for Final Draft, one of Australia’s oldest radio book shows. The 10 minute interview airs at 7pm (Australian Eastern time) on Monday, September 14th on 107.3FM (for those in Australia), or can be streamed from their website on

August – a busy month! – also saw the launch of the new Prism website, with all new graphics and artwork, provided by the lovely Laura Diehl. ( Do drop in to and take a look at all we’ve been doing there! Feel free to leave comments either on this web site or to drop me a line via to let me know your thoughts. Feedback is always appreciated.

That’s everything for now and it’s good to be in touch with you again,

Yours with my nose finally above water,

K.E. Stapylton

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In Honour of Australia Day, January 26th

In honour of Australia Day, forthwith a poem about one of our national anti-heroes, Ned Kelly.

Famous for his suit of metal forged from the farming implements largely given to him by his struggling Australian peer group, Kelly was of Irish heritage, born to a father who had himself been sentenced to penal servitude in Ireland and deported to 'Van Diemen's Land', now Tasmania, Australia's smallest state. It was here that Kelly was born and lived the first 12 years of his life before moving with his mother and siblings to Victoria after his father's death.

After falling out with a neighbouring pig farmer (tho Kelly claimed this was over an argument about Kelly's sister), Kelly was declared a 'juvenile bushranger', despite the previous charges being dropped. From there Kelly went on to 12 years of law evasion, cattle theft, and, later, bank robberies. Disagreement amongst historians continues over whether Kelly was a common criminal, or the victim of police harrassment and the champion of an underclass uprising. Many see him as the defining figure in selector/squatter conflicts of this era of Australian history. Despite Australia's self-chosen identity as 'the lucky country', the holy grail, if you will, for those looking for equality and a new frontier, its settlement brought with it the old British conflicts of class, and Catholic vs Protestant.

With the lengthy Jerilderie Letter (1879), Kelly sought to define his grievances and defend his position as one common to the Irish Catholic selector. Currently in the State Library of Victoria, the Jerilderie Letter is considered one of the most extraordinary documents in Australia's history. Jerilderie was also the site of one of the Kelly gang's most notable robberies. Having broken into the local police station, overcome the police and imprisoned them in their own cells, two members of the Kelly gang, then dressed in the policemen's uniforms, rounded up various townspeople and kept them hostage in the local hotel, where they all passed the time with 'drinks on the house'. In the meantime Ned Kelly and Joe Byrne broke into the local bank, stole 2,000 pounds, and burnt the townspeople's mortgage deeds. It was acts such as these which added to the gang's popularity and notoriety.

The irony, of course, is that, although embraced as an Australian icon, Kelly's issues were largely those that related to his Irish heritage and that of his father. Despite being seen as quintessentially Australian, and even romanticized by some in the same manner as the swagman in the famous song, 'Waltzing Matilda', Kelly saw himself specifically as an outcast and a man on the run.

When Kelly was eventually captured by police, over 30,000 signatures were submitted demanding his release and the reversal of his death penalty. But the penalty was upheld and Kelly was hung on November 11, 1880. He was 26 years old.

The final stanza of the poem is written in the sing-along, heavily rhythmic style of the Australian poets of the 1800’s, such as Banjo Patterson. The fifth line, out of rhythm and rhyme, is as a theatrical ‘aside’ to the reader; ie although we’ve made of Kelly, with all his moral and legal dualities, a sort of anti-hero, Australia will always prefer their heroes, anti or otherwise, cut down to size. In Australia this is known as ‘tall poppy syndrome’ and is part of accepted Australian culture. In the case of Ned Kelly, we’ll accept him as an inherent part of our historical culture and laud him as such, but we still prefer him ‘dead and buried’.

Despite his death over 100 years ago, the issues of class struggle, land ownership, especially as it affects Australia's aboriginal people, the morality of the legal system, religious conflict, and issues of immigration are still alive and well in Australia. As such, this poem asks:

How Dead Is Ned

They say he hid to dodge the bullets
But I wonder if it’s true
That he hid to dodge adoring fans
The 30,000 signatures
That clasped unwilling Irish hands.

Was his last view a policeman’s gun
A harbinger of death?
Or a hazy shroud of eucalypt
The tightening weight upon his chest
As Australia’s favourite wayward son.

He saw himself the outsider
A hostage to his breed
Yet he became iconoclast
A symbol greater than himself
That held a nation’s essence fast.

Wrapped in metal, slits for eyes,
No billabong, no Matilda air,
His coffin, responsibility,
His heritage his father’s rage
Long doomed before Jerilderie.

Too many lies confuse the tale
Of that which died behind the mask
Did he willing go to an unmarked grave
Tired of an unfinished task
Uniting two sides of a broken grail.

“We don’t know what to think of you,
But we’re glad you’re one of us
We’ll overlook your shortcomings
And share Australia’s secret trust;
We like our poppies dead and buried.”

Friday, January 2, 2009

I Am Rangawari Turitsinze

I am Rangawari Turitsinze and I am five years old. I live in Rwanda, of the Tutsi tribe, and my family is proud. Our life is hard, though not so hard as it was since people have come from outside my tribe and brought aid. I do not see those who aid us, but I go to school now, and my teacher reads my parents and me letters sent from a land far away. A woman who is not hungry sends us money for food, and for me to go to school. This makes my mother glad and my father says it gives him hope, though I do not know for what.

Like all girls from my village, my hair is coiled into knots that spring from my head and they make my mother laugh. She catches me as I run past her, and tugs them gently. “Rangawari,” she says, “your hair springs from your head like the happiness that springs from your heart.” She says my smile reminds her of sunshine and of the dawn, in the way that all mothers say these things. My father says little, as is the want of fathers, but I feel his eyes follow me and I feel the fear in his heart. When I have asked why he is afraid, he has said little, though today I know.

My dream has been to leave my tribe one day, and travel to a city far away, where I might learn to be a teacher also. I would return one day, and work in the school and marry Ashara, a boy in my class who is big and strong, whose family smiles when they see us together. Ashara says this will never happen and that he does not like girls. But my mother tells me that it is the role of women to hold our tribe together and to make babies and keep our village alive.

I hear my mother and my teacher speak of the power of women and I do not always regret not being born a man. The boys in my class tease us, and tell us that our value is only to carry the water, and to help care for the goats and the plants that the men grow. But my mother says that with no water and no plants and with hungry goats the men would not last long, and with no babies to follow them they would soon be neither strong nor weak, but instead nothing at all. I tried to explain this to Ashara once, but his father heard me and beat me soundly. My father in the end made me apologise to Ashara and his father, and I saw Ashara smirking when I looked up quickly in the middle of the speech my mother had me learn. “Say these words, Rangawari”, she said. “But do not believe them – not even for an instant. We say what we need to say to survive. We do what we need to do to remain invisible. Pity the day when you are noticed by men.”

And today that day came to my village. I was sitting outside our hut, drawing pictures of myself in the dust with sticks, and making my picture dresses from leaves. And then the air was filled with shouting. From out of the surrounding trees came many men, screaming and waving pangas with blades bigger than my head, and grabbing everyone in their path as they marched into our village. Some had guns, black and ugly, with long blades tied to their ends. I saw a soldier use his blade to run a man through as he waved his hands in front of his face and fell to his knees, begging to be left alive. I don’t think the soldier even looked at him as he pierced him through the neck, then used his panga to chop his head in one hard swing from his body. I tried to run but my feet felt like they were stuck to the ground with the sap we use to make the teething sticks for the village babies. The babies suck and chew and gurgle and slowly break them down till they dissolve right away. That’s how I felt – as though something in my belly had dissolved right away. I stood there, frozen, till I heard my mother screaming; “Rangawari! Rangawari! Run!” I watched her for a moment, then turned and ran as fast as I could to our school, and am hiding now under my teacher’s desk. I looked out only once, and saw my mother held from behind by two men while she screamed, bent double. It was a fear I never thought I’d see in one so strong, and it made me sick, so I hid my face, and in the end her screams went silent. Of my father there was no sign, though I saw Ashara as I ran to my hiding place, laying outside his hut, his neck cut, and his head resting in a spreading pool of blood. They had taken his clothes also, and between his legs there was a gaping wound and another pool of blood. He was dead.

They come for me now, the men with axes. I know I am all that is left, and I know my mother would be proud that I was the last to die. I am indeed clever, and would have made an excellent teacher for my village, though perhaps there are more important things to learn than numbers and letters. I do not know if my passing will be as my mother’s, slow and ugly, or as the men of my village – short and bloody - and I pray to the God of the white men that it will be fast. I hear them now, on the other side of the door. I hear them and I wonder who will remember me.

I am Rangawari Turitsinze. I am five years old and I will not see the dawn.


Author's note:

Rangawari was one of my sponsor children when she, her family and her entire village were hacked to death in the Rwandan massacre of 1994. I've put her story here to speak for her. Her voice should be heard.

But atrocities such as these continue today. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is seeing a concerted attack against its women by military terrorists who are seeking to destroy the very fabric of this nation by destroying and demoralizing the feminine heart and soul of the Congolese culture. The Panzi Hospital is dedicated to the surgical repair of these female victims of rape and the restoration of their physical, emotional and spiritual well being. Please, open your heart and consider giving to this worthy cause. Links to information about the Panzi Hospital are listed below.

To donate directly, use the drop down box in this link titled "Purpose" and select 'Panzi Hospital':