Wednesday, 16 September 2015

A Dreadful Daughter's Spells by Leah Broadby, Molly Billygoat + Interview

A Dreadful Daughter's Spells
by Leah Broadby, Molly Billygoat

Bev’s fridge won't stop complaining, her vase has a death wish, and she suspects her daughter has ADD.

Chloe knows she is “A Dreadful Daughter,” but the truth is more complicated than that. Chloe is magiken, meaning she can breathe life into objects…even if she can’t always control them. She will soon turn fourteen. Growing up means losing one’s powers. Even worse, she will lose all memories of those powers.

Meanwhile, a painting is born on the wall of a dance studio. Feeling lonely and literally flat, he hops down from the wall and ventures into the dizzying, confounding world. The painting is close to starvation when he meets Chloe. Using her magic, she draws a pizza from rock, saving his life. He adopts the name “Timmy” and becomes her sidekick, of sorts.

Events turn sinister when the Skizen, a creature of diabolical power, begins kidnapping young magiken. Chloe’s magic is already leaking. Before she is drained of magic, Chloe and Timmy must save the children.

Also… is it ethical to fall for a painting?

With a touch of Douglas Adams’ humour and a pinch of Pendleton Ward’s wackiness, this book is an unanticipated trip into the unknown.

Paperback, 252 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Find it on Goodreads
Buy it on Amazon

Read It & Reap:  April 5, 2016

Enter to win a copy during the Goodreads Giveaway!

Once upon a time I snuggled under the enormous blankets on my Dad's bed as he read me stories such as "My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes", "The Most Scary Ghost" and fairy stories he told without the aid of a book. The ones he made up were my favourites.

Eventually, I got out of his bed and started reading stories in my own bed, although I still hid under the covers. Reading covertly by torchlight is more exciting.

Then new stories came, unbidden, into my head. I realised that these stories were as yet untold, and therefore belonged to me. All the stories entered a sort of tornado, wherein every character and twist and plot I'd ever heard or conceived of were able to meet. I left home at sixteen, a little too young, but the tornado of story-parts followed me out the door.

I went to eleven Asian countries. I lived in Korea for five years. I nearly got famous on the telly there - for real! I chose not to follow this path because I didn't want a nose job. Plus, the idea of inserting balloons into my breasts, or whatever it is surgeons insert, totally freaked me out. Having a man's hands on your breasts is one thing, but having a man's hands INSIDE your breasts? No thank you!

I made a small name for myself as a painter. I used traditional Korean paper and colours and a LOT of patterns to express the alternate worlds that stormed around in my head. But, for me, painting is too slow. A story bursting to get out that fast needs a keyboard, not a paintbrush.

Side note: Some of my writing and paintings can be found at

So... I learnt the Korean language quite well. I edited and translated theses, abstracts, calendars, Catholic University newsletters, Buddhist University poems. My atheism was put neatly aside for some of that.

At some point, however, the tornado caught up with me. Full of the ghosts of stories old and new, in my father's voice and in my own, and many others' besides, it followed me through every door I exited until it engulfed me. I was swept into the violently rotating column and came close to having a breakdown. You don't ignore a storm like that for such a long time and get away with it.

I did the only thing I could. I gave up everything and came back to Australia, my home country. To be a... Yes, to be a writer. Like so many of us, I am a poor writer. I'd like more money, but hell, at least I'm happily writing, and at least my breasts are their natural selves!

Here I remain, now accepting of the twister in which I have ended up. I am whipped around daily by the characters and words and twists and tragedies and hilarious innuendos that I so love. And I do love them. I hate some of the characters, but I have come to love the tornado.

Now I am self published through that site.... whatssit? Ah, yes! Amazon! The book is "A Dreadful Daughter's Spells" and it is available in paperback and kindle format. At Amazon. Dot com.

Okay, I'll give you the link. It's more likely you'll look at it, that way:

Two more books are on the way. One is an even crazier, more twisted fantasy for young readers. The other is an adult sci fi with a reasonable dose of satire.

Another thing about me: I type quickly and every comment becomes an essay and every biography becomes a thesis. So, here I end it! Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish!

Q & A with Molly Billygoat (Leah Broadby)

1. Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
Chloe is a thirteen-year-old tomboy, living near the seaside in an Australian suburban town. When she wants her way (which is most of the time), she is as immovable as a sack of bricks. She is going through puberty, has a rocky relationship with her mother; all of which is pretty normal. Except Chloe is anything but normal. She is magiken, which means she can give life to inanimate objects.

As it turns out, this can be very difficult for a pubescent girl. All of her stubbornness is dedicated to one thing: Finding others of her own ilk. On one level or another, we all tend to do that as teenagers. Except that, for Chloe, the task is rather more difficult. As she points out bitterly, “I mean, how do you spot magiken, right? They don’t go around with magic wands and magiken hats, although I personally think they should.”

Her mother suspects she has ADD, which Chloe thinks stands for “A Dreadful Daughter.” Chloe rebels against puberty. The sad irony of growing up for a magiken is this: When you grow up, you don’t only lose your magic – you lose all memories of having had it. Magiken are eventually doomed to partial amnesia. All they can do is delay that ‘moment’ when they become an adult. This could be brought on by new responsibilities such as getting a job, or perhaps by falling in love…

Here is where I might bring in the other main character. He is a painting on the wall of Dee-Borah’s Dance Studios. He is nothing more than a stylised stick man, although his torso curves jauntily, his legs are frozen mid-twist and he has the most fabulous long, black hair a stick man has ever been blessed with.

On that wall, he begins the process of birth. It involves no labour pains or hospitals. It doesn’t even involve a mother. He comes to life slowly, his consciousness discovering sound, light and concepts behind words one at a time.

He eventually decides that a three-dimensional life might be worth a go, and jumps off the wall. He is a strange mixture of naivety, pockets of wisdom and plain stupidity. He often takes metaphors too literally, which means he becomes literally frozen to the spot when he is nervous or shocked. After meeting Chloe, his personality and ‘humanness’ shapes rapidly, both mentally and physically. Despite Chloe’s frightening levels of energy and regular outbursts of frustration, he continues to follow her in a show of devotion and love. She did save him from starvation by producing a pizza made with the ingredients of magic, after all.

The antagonist, whom Chloe and the painting must eventually fight, may best be described via an excerpt from the book:

“There was nothing constant about him. His body was a network of dark, writhing creases, making it difficult to see where he ended and the crumbling old gold mine began. His face was a wide blob that grew and shrunk as if a bellows was being pumped into one of his ears. His eyes, currently, were blinking kidney beans topped by eyebrows whose jerking motions indicated that they weren’t quite sure of the proper location for eyebrows.”

Other characters include Patrick (Chloe’s magiken friend), Bev (Chloe’s mother), jolly sand nymphs, mischief fairies (small animals with wings), the kidnapped magiken children, and a range of talking household appliances and furniture. My favourite is the mirror, who plays a small part but whose reflections on life are as ridiculous as any human’s.

2. Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?

I am an artist, or so I have been called! When living in Korea, I held two solo exhibitions of my paintings/drawings, and took part in numerous group/international exhibitions. You can see a range of my artwork on my site. It’s is mostly very dotty. Needless to say, the cover of my book is my own painting.

Knowing my lack of knowledge in marketing and so forth, I completed a Kickstarter campaign prior to publishing. This allowed me to give money to CreateSpace (Amazon), who, in contrast to me, abound in aforementioned knowledge. One thing I paid for is the layout of the book. I had some say in it of course (I asked them to change colour and font), but the technical work was all them.

Therefore, for me as an author, the process was enjoyable. I mostly just had to paint a picture. My only quandary was negotiating across time zones between Australia and America!

3. Describe your ideal writing spot.
I am interested in alternative buildings, and imagine my dream house regularly. Atop the house is a glass dome, from which I can see a golden valley. The dome can be partially or completely covered by curtains, or totally exposed if I wish. It is big enough for me to stand up, and contains everything I need (that is, my laptop, speakers for music and a bean bag).

Accepting I will probably never possess such an expensive addition to a house (I may never even possess a house!), I can’t complain about the log cabin I currently rent. It is largely surrounded by rainforest and I have the space to listen to whatever music I want, whenever I want, as loud as I want. This type of freedom aids my writing process immensely.

4. What is the best advice you have been given?
This is boring and we’ve all heard it, but cut it out! I mean, don’t cut out writing. Cut out pieces of your writing. Even if it hurts. Make it more succinct. Find ways to remove ‘but’ and ‘then’ and… well, and ‘and.’

I was given this advice and followed through. I am forever thankful to the person who forced me to do this. I believe this book and all books hereafter will be a much more pleasurable read as a result.

5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

From age two or three, I was book-obsessed. I was nine when I realised you can write them as a living, even if it meant becoming a poor artist. Since then, I’ve wanted to write fervently and without a moment of doubt. I could have chosen other things – I’m passionate about science, for example. I have done a bucket-load of editing and translation (Korean to English). But every step away from creative writing felt like a step in the wrong direction. I will write until I die, whether people buy my books or not. I don’t own my books – they own me. I am a slave. Dramatic, but true!

6. Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks?
I love bookshelves full of books. Don’t most of us? It is romantic and smells good. But practicality takes over at some point and we turn to technology. The access to such an immense range of books at the click of a button is rather a miracle, isn’t it?

Having said that, I now prefer another option: Audio books. I got into audio books because I was experiencing eye-strain and headaches from too much screen-time. Being a writer and cartoon-enthusiast means you need a break from screens! Now, I love getting in bed, flicking off the light, and letting the narrator’s voice wash over me, drawing me into the story as I close my eyes and see the characters’ movements on the back of my eyelids.

7. If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you choose to be and why?
What a tough question! I have a list of multitudinous characters, but I will tentatively give one. I may regret this later, though.

I would be Marceline the Vampire Queen from Adventure Time (the cartoon). First, a condition of the character I become is that they be immortal. If I could avoid death, I would. Second, she is a musician and I would love to be a musician. Third, she is gorgeous and bi-sexual. At least, that is what Adventure Time infers. Fourth, her father is the master of the Nightosphere, which admittedly is not a nice place, the idea of being able to access any other realm excites me no end.

Finally, she lives in The Land of Ooo, where such things as inter-dimensional travel occur as a matter of course. Also, it is a wacky, funny place. There are so many chances to meet strange and interesting creatures (although I admit Marceline is lonely, as immortals tend to be). Adventure Time is my all-time favourite TV show. I’d better stop there or I will write ten pages about this cartoon, and you’ll go watch that instead of reading my book!

8. What book are you reading now?
Slaughterhouse-five, by Kurt Vonnegut. I discovered him relatively recently and fell instantly in love.

Love at first sight? Unlikely! Love at first read? Absolutely! Few writers (of TV-scripts or books) can make me laugh and cry simultaneously. The tragedy of the human condition can only be balanced by a good sense of humour, as far as I’m concerned.


  1. Can't wait to read your book, Leah! Oh, and all the other ones you talk about.

    1. Thank you, Silke! I don't know why I deserve your unwavering support, but I surely do appreciate it! :)