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I was spending an afternoon at a friend’s house after school and my sister Tracy was also visiting a friend. When I arrived home late that afternoon my mother was busy vacuuming the carpet. Patricia was home and lay on the couch with her feet up against the wall. She was behaving strangely as usual and swore at me as I walked inside the lounge.

Quite suddenly I noticed that the curtains had all been cut in half. I was so nervous around Patricia I never noticed it at first. Then to my horror I noticed that all three of the windows in the lounge had been smashed. Like somebody had missed the main centre window trying to break in, and had smashed both of the side windows by mistake.

Patricia insisted that somebody had broken into the house before she had come home and that it was already in a mess when she arrived there.

To make matters worse the lounge furniture had also been slashed to pieces with a scissors. It was sheer vandalism and my mother knew very well that Roslyn had convinced Patricia that that was the right thing for her to do in her twisted way of thinking. I was feeling really afraid and had no idea of what to make of my sister’s strange behaviour.

Tracy arrived home shortly after me and she looked horrified at the sight of the lounge. She confronted Patricia about what had happened but Patricia flatly denied having anything to do with the mess. My mother was unsure of how to handle the situation and decided to report the incident to the police. They arrived about half an hour later and my mother told them that her daughter was very ill.

Patricia disappeared into her bedroom, realizing that she might be in serious trouble. In her mind we were all plotting against her, and she believed that we wanted to see her destroyed.

One of the policemen knocked on her bedroom door and asked if he could have a word with her. She screamed out loudly telling the policemen to go to hell. This was when they realized that she was not well.

The policemen in charge immediately phoned for an ambulance and they must have arrived at our house in about fifteen minutes. Patricia was dragged out of her bedroom literally kicking and screaming. One of the policemen joined her inside the ambulance to try and keep her calm. I felt quite sorry for the poor man, my sister was a handful.

The ambulance siren sounded deafening as the vehicle rolled out of our driveway.  Patricia was off to Weskoppies mental institution, a hospital where patients were locked up for their own protection. I breathed a big sigh of relief as I watched her go.

I argued with my mother and demanded that she must take my sister away from us. I told her that Patricia was mental and that she might even try and murder us. My mother was obviously upset and told me to keep quiet. We waited in anticipation for Patricia to return home. I wanted to run away, but there was nowhere for me to go.

Patricia never returned home that afternoon and my mother was starting to panic. Patricia had made a new friend a couple of weeks back and her name was Roslyn. My mother had heard that Roslyn had recently been looked up in jail for petty theft and other minor offenses. She was a big woman in her mid-twenties and she was a bad influence on my sister in her current state of mind. My sister was only a teenager.  It was bad enough that Patricia was full-blown psychotic, now she was mixing with the unstable people as well.

The term psychotic tends to place fear into a person when they are not educated about mental illness. Usually when a person is gentle by nature, the worst that they do when they are mentally ill (psychotic) is become verbally abusive and violent. Violent meaning they may break things. Or they may overdose on tablets with the belief that they are invincible. A common occurrence with people that are schizophrenic or bipolar is that they may even develop the God complex during an extreme high. They believe that they are superhuman, and that way they become a danger to themselves. I am no expert on the topic; I only speak from personal experience.

My mother was desperate and searched the neighbourhood for my sister. After a couple of hours she spotted Patricia outside a small shopping complex up the road from us. She was sitting next to Roslyn and my mother could hear the swear words flying. My mother felt as though she was the enemy and called Patricia to come with her. Roslyn whispered something into her ear and they both grinned.

When Patricia arrived back home it went from a bad dream to a nightmare. She was extremely paranoid and afraid of us. Believe me we were much more afraid than she was. I was shaking with fear. She would scream and swear at us and smash her dinner plate against the wall. Then when she had had enough of us she charged out the front door. My mother screamed after her, demanding that she come back. My mother was desperate and did not know how to deal with her behaviour.

Patricia marched off to her friend Roslyn again, and this time my mother didn’t try and stop her. The next day we all went to work and school, my mother didn’t sleep at all the previous night, she was in a state of shock. We were all confused and did not know how to deal with things. 

“Living a life of integrity is one of the greatest missions we can undertake.” Greg Anderson

The days are counting down before the release of the second book in the Green Planet series. On the 11th of April 2011 Green Planet Under Fire will be hitting the shelves worldwide. This is a very exciting time for me as an author as my dreams become a reality. But what is all the excitement about, who cares about this Green Planet Series anyway? 

Maybe that is something you will need to ask Amy Baird, one of my devout followers. She is twenty one years old and works for a large auditing firm in South Africa. Amy positively nags me for the next instalment of my book. She read Green Planet Under Fire in one evening and demanded to read Green Planet Three the following day. Not to brag about my achievement, but if you receive a fired up response like that you know you are onto something exciting beyond your wildest imagination. 

I have already taken a few snippets from Green Planet Under Fire, but would like to dig a little deeper just to enhance the epic splendour of this adventure.

Imagine four children and a wizard stranded on a foreign planet with colourful forests and unusual green life. An evil flower fairy has infected the forests with her cursed acorn goblins. 

A kind druid named Patroux lives on Green Planet and owns a large house on an open plain, filled with unusual and brilliant specimens of plants. Dragon pod plant, dog ears and lolly-grogs to name a few.  After Green Planet is cursed, Patroux’s greenhouse explodes into an army of killer weeds.

The dog ear plants find some of Patroux’s magic grow sticks and they change from sweet doggy plants to man eating beasts. The peaceful dragon pods erupt into potent fire breathing flowers five times their usual size. Patroux is at his wits end trying to cope with the onslaught against his greenhouse. The story is action packed, very tense, fast moving as well as funny. 

The good wizard Chimzen has three magical balls that possess incredible powers. Each entity has a personality and name of its own. They work together to form a unique triangular laser shield, or they act independently and fire laser beams. They form a shield or a flying hover board. They have countless useful functions. 

Will Chimzen and the four teenagers survive their dangerous ordeal with Green Planet in such a cursed state? Will they survive an attack from Azor’s army of deadly Spincrick spiders, along with her Indian plant tribes, armed with lethal bows and arrows? Are Chimzen’s potent magical balls able to withstand the scourge of evil infecting the land? Will the group be safely guarded, or will things go horribly wrong? 

There are many twists and turns to this story of adventure. Emma a beautiful blonde teenager who does nothing but tell lies throughout the story. She solves the incredible riddle to the great sceptre of magic, which is probably the most powerful sceptre ever known.  An amazing staff compiled of twelve wizard stones. 

The magic staff is snatched by a podgy boy named Robert. He holds it up in the air with trembling hands, shaking under its massive power. Within a split second he revealed his desires to the staff. His heart’s desire was simple at his tender age. An enormous chocolate bridge held together with caramel and condensed milk magically appeared in front of him. How would you like to bite into a large chocolate structure melting in the sun? Wait there is so much more to the story. What else has been done using the great sceptre’s awesome power? 

Then let’s not forget about Chimzen’s magical bird, Kenwood the cryptic cockatiel, an amazing bird capable of answering any question. Now what does that clever bird do to save the day? A creation like that could quite easily get somebody into serious trouble. And what about Elvis the deep voiced singing goldfish, and Squidget the talking squirrel. Then let us not forget to mention: the druid on a flying barstool cruising through the air, this you will have got to read about. 

The adventures and mishaps of all these bizarre characters and creatures are packed into one single story, Green Planet Under Fire. A magical fantasy adventure that will warm you right to the bottom of your big toes. 

The adventure continues with the third magical book in the series, Green Planet and the Doomsday Oil. A completely unique fantasy conquest, coming soon.

Several months had passed and all was well in the sunny Southby residence. Patricia was back at school and managing OK. The rest of us kids weren’t so worried about my sister’s grades, our only concern was that she behaved normally and didn’t miff out on us again. There was no concern about that happening though, she and I were tearing each other’s hair out by the roots as usual and life was reasonably full of laughs and fun living.

Sadly things did not last long in sunny Southby paradise. One morning my parents noticed that things were not quite right with Patricia. She spent a lot of time moaning to herself about goodness knows what, and she had my mother fairly concerned.

That afternoon she walked up to the corner of our garden and started pulling up my mother’s plants and tossing them into the neighbour’s garden. Unfortunately the neighbour was around and he complained bitterly about my sister’s actions. He attempted to pick up the damaged flowers and toss them back over our wall. My sister reacted strongly against his defence and swore at the poor man harshly. My mother heard all the cursing and shouting from the house and ran outside to see what my sister was up to. My mother moaned loudly and demanded that my sister get back into the house. The neighbour just stood staring at Patricia completely gobsmacked.

Patricia screamed and cursed my mother to the grave without even giving an explanation her daft actions. Then she stormed into the house and marched into her bedroom and slammed the door.

Needless to say, my eldest sister and I felt very afraid. It was one thing for my sister to sit, mope and stare at the floor, but to lose her cool over absolute nonsense was something never seen before.

The house went very quiet for about an hour or so and the rest of us quietly discussed Patricia’s strange behaviour. That must have been a terrible mistake though because a while later she stormed out the bedroom and accused us all of plotting against her like evil spies. It was the most frightening experience for me as a boy. It suddenly seemed as though my sister was possessed by the evil one and she was going to do the unspeakable to us.

My mother tried to reason with her without any success. It only seemed like she was putting petrol on the fire and creating an enormous bonfire of rage to flare up. We were all quite unaware of how to deal with her in her state and only later we learned that the best bet would be to remain calm.

From being the brother that always argued I went quiet and turned deathly pale. I did not know this person anymore. What happened to my sister?

The next moment Patricia turned away from us as if she had been scared off in some way. She dashed outside and scrambled through the gate. My mother yelled after her, but she was already half way down the street.

I breathed a sigh of relief, so glad to see her go.

What makes these books such a fun read is your combination of humour, adventure and a richly detailed world in which your characters are set. Tell us about your inspiration for the Green Planet universe–is a lot of your creation organic, or did you connect with certain types of books and authors growing up?

There was only one author when I grew up and her name was Enid Blyton. She has definitely rubbed off on me with the infinity of books that she wrote. I can’t really remember any of her stories that well, but somehow I try and create that same feeling behind my stories. Like the magic wishing chair with its flying wings. Like using magic ointment to make things grow or make them better. Maybe my books are designed for a slightly older audience, but that same magic element carries through. Then there is C S Lewis with the great planet Narnia through the cupboard. Daft ideas of teleportation and magical quests, I love that.

With Green Planet I was able to create an original Floral planet like nobody has ever seen before and emphasize Green Peace and taking care of mother earth, like the way in which my great wizard Chimzen loves and takes care of his forest back home, perched up high in his tree house.

How far do these adventures go? How many more adventures do you have left to write?

With the Green Planet series I plan to take the story as far as five parts. Not that I would have run out of ideas, but I really don’t want to kill the concept. I can already feel ideas bursting through for part four, it’s very exciting. As long as the ideas are new and interesting I’m happy.

How many adventures do I have left? Well when I have completed the Green Planet series I will definitely move onto something else, there are an infinity of things to ponder over. I am gifted and have the ability to suck in new ideas like a machine. I am living in a very exciting time of my life.   

Tell us a bit about your website, and why people should visit!

 My website was created by a good friend of mine, and he is constantly adding and upgrading it. The website is colourful and attractive to look at, especially for children. There is a piece about myself and the struggles I have been through to be the success that I enjoy today. Some people might find this uplifting.  Your children will enjoy the theme poems on my site where they can learn more about the Green Planet story. There is also a chapter of my book for those that would like to get a taste of the adventure. And if you would like to hear what I sound like you can hear me on a radio interview promoting the book as well.

Thanks to Anthony for taking time out of his writing and promotional schedule to answer a few questions for us! Green Planet and Green Planet Under Fire are available to order via Amazon, Gardners, Melrose Books and select locations throughout the UK. You can also place an order by stopping into your local bookseller, who will always appreciate your support. For local orders in South Africa, contact Sula Distribution on +27 (21) 556 1149 or via email on info@sula.co.za.

Green Planet Under Fire is is due for release on April 11, 2011, the second book in the Green Planet adventure series. Anthony’s books have had a wide appeal due to their fantastical and imaginative nature. We at Melrose books interviewed Anthony and asked him a few interesting questions regarding his new novel.  Anthony E. Southby is available through his website: www.greenplanetfantasy.com.  

Green Planet Under Fire is the follow-up to Green Planet, which you published with us last year. Before we jump into Green Planet Under Fire, what do we need to know from the first adventure so that we’re all up to speed?

For those that haven’t heard of Green Planet before, it is a fast-paced fantasy adventure novel suitable for all ages. The theme of the story basically revolves around two boys who are turned into a pair of monkeys by an evil wizard. They are then taken to Green Planet by Chimzen the good wizard with the goal of finding a magic Frego flower to restore them to boys again.

Green Planet is covered in deadly plant creatures and cunning flower fairies, and the group nearly sacrifice their lives in an effort to return home alive. Jasmine Azor is the leader of the flower fairy gang and she goes all out to destroy Chimzen and his friends.  Green Planet is not only action and drama; the story is also filled with wit and invention.

Green Planet Under Fire basically begins from where the evil flower fairies have been defeated. When I first wrote the series I tried not to leave too many loose ends, and one will find that each new installment is more or less an independent story of its own.       

While both of these books can be read as stand-alone titles, they’re both still written with a sense that, yes, the adventure carries on. Are these character arcs that have been written for some time, or are you creating the worlds of these characters as you go?

The first Green Planet book was written from day to day. I would usually lie in bed at night and suddenly come up with a really incredible idea; then I would immediately make a note of it. As I got the ideas coming to me I would write the story, never quite knowing how it would end.

Green Planet Under Fire was quite different though. I carefully planned the story, developing a solid structure first with all the key ideas. This must have taken me over two months to do. Then just like that I wrote the book in six short weeks. With a solid foundation the story just flowed out of me at an amazing rate.  The book is filled with incredible detail, and is extremely fast-moving.

No I have not planned the series through to the end, but I do plan each one with loose ends leading to the next book.   

Mathias the evil wizard is back, as is Chimzen the good wizard, not to mention Philip and Frank. But you introduce a number of new characters that keep your story fresh and really open up the Green Planet universe for us. Who are your biggest additions, and what functions do they serve in the story?

Funny you should say ‘open up the Green Planet universe.’ The third book in the series is where I have literally opened up the Green Planet universe by adding strange new planets for the group to visit.

Back to the question, three new characters added to my story would be Mathick, Robert, and Emmaline or Emma. Very interesting in indeed.

Mathick with his tattooed body and long hair, cruising through the air on his flying silver barstool.  A coward of a man with an extreme passion for money. He is Mathias’ brother and is also quite rotten to the core.  Jasmine Azor manages to use him against his will for her own personal gain, so you could say he forms a part of the team of villains.

Robert Nothling is one of Philip’s school friends and he enjoys nothing quite like chocolate cake and roast potatoes, OK maybe not together.  He lands up in a rather unfortunate predicament in my story. He is lured into a creepy place in the valley somewhere where he ends up eating the sap of a very toxic tree.  He blows up like a hot air balloon and floats up into the sky.  Let’s just say the floating boy ends up quite bloated with gas. The poor boy is also petrified of the creatures on Green Planet and does his fair share of moaning.

Emma Sawyer on the other hand is a beautiful blonde teenage girl as well as a compulsive liar. The group soon tire of her ways and wish that she had never come along to Green Planet. She pays the price for her sins though and gets transformed into a talking bush by Azor, but only develops each new leaf one lie at a time.

Now it was a Sunday afternoon and my mother insisted that I come along and visit my sister in Tara hospital. I was very reluctant to go and insisted that I wanted to stay at home. But my mother told me that we needed to stand together and support Patricia in her time of need.

Just as I expected the institution where my sister was staying at was horrible. It had a miff smell about it and the people walking past stared at us and looked strange, while others gazed at the ground as if we were aliens that had just arrived to come and ship them out.

Finally we entered one of the wards and my sister was sitting next to a tray of sandwiches staring at the floor like she had been at home. Her hair had been combed back nicely by one of the sisters but she looked dopey and obviously heavily medicated.

She walked down the corridor with us to take a seat on an open piece of grass. She never said much really, she only cried and asked to come home. My mother held her hand and told her that it wouldn’t be long before she was released.

Sadly the following week things got suddenly worse. Patricia had climbed up a two story building and had jumped off onto the paving below. Her intention was to commit suicide but she had broken her leg instead.

Sadly her recovery was a slow one and she spent many months in hospital care.

Finally she was released from Tara. She still seemed very heavily medicated and was not at all like the sister I had been quarrelling with my entire life through. She was calm and distant and did not talk much at all.

My mother explained to us that it was all part of her depression and that things would improve.

And they surely did, a few months later my sister was arguing with me again like God had intended her to. She was full of life and I was very happy to have my old sister back. Our entire family lived in the hope that she would remain stable. I guess we were entitled to be optimistic, living in the hope that everything would be just fine.

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” Ray Bradbury