The Guidal: Discovering Puracordis The Guidal Book 1
by Roxy Eloise Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy
In a future where the mention of magic is banned, one paranoid man rules the entire country.
Adopting children to become his private bodyguards, they are raised together in a strict institute where sixteen-year-old Aurora struggles to follow the rules. Finding herself disciplined often, she doesn’t particularly like her endless life of servitude.
Soon, she will have to take part in the institute’s annual Unity ceremony where she could end up engaged to a complete stranger!
Aurora’s fears of being different are realised when she discovers something about herself, something which will make most fear her, and her adoptive father will want her killed for.
Friends, bullies, and a touch of something magical, Aurora’s first year in the grown-ups’ quarter is far from ordinary.
I rolled my belongings into their designated place alongside the ensuite, and opened my welcome pack. It enclosed a huge stack of paperwork, which included a temporary daily schedule and a welcome letter. A cold shiver ran down from the top of my head, waking up the hair on my neck. My eyes focused on a sentence in the letter. The posh font didn’t make the content any more attractive.
‘Successful candidates of the Unity assessment will be allocated new bedrooms next to their betrothed.’
I had momentarily forgotten all about the Unity assessment, and the letter reminded me like a wet fish to the face. Now the fish felt like it was swimming around in my stomach. I studied the sentence again—‘next to.’ Well, at least that was something. Sod sharing a room with a boy.
From the moment I read the letter, I couldn’t cope with the overwhelming anxiety. I needed to get rid of the fish, so I decided to head to the Khakidemy to sit the test without meeting up with my best friend, Silliah, first. I was sure she would be in there anyway. She’d probably be already eagerly completing her test; she loved Unity. It was supposed to find our perfect partners, someone we would be expected to spend all our time with, and someone we would eventually be expected to have children with. For what reason? I had no idea. I always heard the same thing, ‘Unity is a privilege, a rare prequisite.’
The Old Library was busy with enthusiastic Navies, all quietly completing their assessments. After a failed scan for Silliah, I searched for a free booth, finding one nestled between two girls who didn’t even notice me take a seat. Whilst settled on my stool, conscious of the cameras pointing at my face, detecting my blood flow, temperature, and muscle movements, I touched ‘Begin.’ My heart rate displayed onscreen. I assumed that had something to do with the picoplant under the skin in my wrist, and this whole setup gave me the impression these assessments were impossible to cheat.
I read through the introduction briefly, avoiding another explanation as to why this test was so great. Trying to keep my heart rate steady, I wondered what my vital stats were identifying. Could they tell I was irritated? Yeah, betrothed to marry, I know. Yes, I’m honoured to be given this privilege.OK, here we go, question one, let’s see.
“Cats or dogs?” I read the question aloud. “What has that got to do with finding my soulmate? I thought this test was supposed to be scientific.”
Amused eyes looked over in my direction.
“Aurora, that’s enough,” said Lady Joanne Maxhin, supervising the candidates this hour. “If you want me to call for Seioh Jennson again, you are going the right way about it. You’re a Navy now, not a child. Keep your head down and start thinking before you speak.”
“You know this is a confidential assessment. So I mean it—silence; not another word from you.” Grrr. What kind of test was this? I rubbed my face so hard it hurt. How could I be matched on the basis of liking cats or dogs?It’s so stupid. I hated this Unity week already.
Tea or Coffee—neither, thanks.
Hot or Cold—what?
Up or Down—are they serious?
A few more questions passed like that before asking me questions as to whether I agreed or disagreed.
I experience my emotions intensely—strongly agree.
I am easily intimidated—just disagree. I almost strongly disagreed, but I was slightly intimidated by Seioh Jennson, the head of the institute. I’d had too many run-ins with him to not be. So…I’ll just disagree on this one.
I trust others—strongly disagree.
Once I’d completed all one hundred questions, I jumped from my stool feeling better about my chances of matching; I highly doubted it. I couldn’t imagine anyone else hating this farce as much as I did. Surely the results would detect that. The two girls I sat between were still at their booths, thinking through their answers thoroughly and making their decisions carefully. I almost rolled my eyes but I caught Lady Maxhin watching me through her holographic display. I pushed in my stool, patted the backrest awkwardly, and fled from the room.
Leaving the Khakidemy, I left any thoughts about the test behind and headed to the Food Hall for breakfast. I entered a hall with the majority of tables reset in their default table-of-four position. Only one group had their table set up as a bench for twelve. I breathed in the near empty room, grateful I’d missed the mid-morning rush. Although the room was cleverly designed—with circular rows upon rows of tables—it was hard to find a single table during busier times.
Situated in the very centre of the building like the bullseye on a target, the Food Hall was the only room that inhabited all four quarters of the institute. I chose a table in Claret Quartz, the section with polished, purply-red floor tiles. Sitting down, I glanced over at a few Musties huddled together, whispering, and turning to look at a Navy standing in the centre by the meal dispenser. Curly blond-brown hair reflecting his chilled-out demeanour, he seemed blissfully unaware of the attention he was being given. From the sound of things, the bench full of Navies also appeared to be talking about him.
“Quickly. Pax is on his own. What should I order?” asked a slender girl with a giggle, looking down at her tabletop screen. “OK, I ordered a fresh green juice; that will do.” She floated up out of her chair and wafted over—in what seemed like slow motion—flicking her glossy, cocoa-brown hair. Her friends watched eagerly. I, too, couldn’t help myself; I needed to see how this one played out.
“Hey, Pax,” she said in a sickly tone, brushing her fingers across the length of his broad back.
“Hey, Pipila.” He didn’t seem to mind the invasion of his personal space, yet didn’t encourage it either.
She played with her hair, tossing her head from side to side. I personally thought she looked demented, but I supposed she was going for cute.
“Order ready for Miss Darlington,” prompted Soami, the Digital Assistant, indicating food had arrived in the hatch.
“Oh, that’s mine,” said Pipila. “Can I just get my—” She leant over Pax, using his arm as support, scanned her picoplant to open the hatch, and reached for her juice. “Hmm, best way to start the day, eh, Pax?” Pipila tipped her head back and sipped the juice delicately. “Well, good luck with Unity this year. Third time lucky for us; I hope we match. Oh, I mean, I hope we find a match,” she ‘corrected’ herself before swanning back to her table. Right…
Roxy Eloise is a successful participant of Pitch Wars held quarterly on Twitter. During this event, she created a pitch that stood out from the hundreds of thousands, landing herself a traditional publishing contract.
Her debut novel, The Guidal: Discovering Puracordis, is the first in a 3-book series. Coming April 2022, this exciting new novel was inspired by a dream. Roxy writes the stories she really wants to read. If she finds it boring to write, she'll find it boring to read, so she’ll always make sure her novels are binge-worthy! Her favourite place to write is in bed with country music and a hot drink. On the weekends, you’ll find her out walking her dog, filming videos for YouTube, or spending time with her family.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Growing up, I really struggled to fit in because, whilst my friends were growing up and becoming more interested in fashion and music, I was still stuck in my childhood. I wasn’t ready to grow up and I preferred my imagination over what so-and-so was wearing and who knew all the lyrics to the latest song. When it was no longer acceptable to play games, I used to live in my imagination and create whole secret worlds in my head. I would visit these worlds every day and continue my characters’ stories. I used to keep this completely secret, thinking it was too abnormal for anyone to understand, but it was only when I started writing, I realised it is what every single author does when they are writing a book. Authors play every day. They never have to grow up.
Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with how stories are created, but I never had the confidence in myself to know I could write a whole book. This was until my friend gave me a self-help book which made me believe. I started out writing non-fiction because I didn’t have a story, but in the back of my mind, I always knew my passion was fiction. The problem was I didn’t have my story. This was until one night I had a powerful dream and I woke in the morning knowing I had found the story I’d been looking for. I plotted for about a week and began writing the first chapter soon after.
What is something unique/quirky about you? I listen to country music whilst writing my dystopian series lol!I really don’t know why it helps me write but it does!
What are some of your pet peeves?
I’m a perfectionist and I struggle to cope with things mentally when I see disorder. I struggle to leave things alone that can be improved. I can’t do half a job or leave things unfinished. I don’t have OCD or any rituals I need to do before I can do something, but I like perfection, organisation, and order.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born and raised in the UK. I spent my childhood playing up the stables with my brother, building dens and making camps. These were the settings for our stories in which we were the characters. We would play this game every day, always being the same two characters but one day we would be fighting tigers and the next we would be bank clerks.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day? At Woburn Safari Park where I spent my 8thbirthday. I would bring all my family and friends (and my dog, Kabir) and we would play tag in the giant adventure playground, see all the animals, and have a picnic on the field with music and games.
What kind of world ruler would you be? Self-less, kind, and understanding. There would be no jobs, but voluntary tasks to help build the community. There would be no money, but everything in abundance. Education would be free and hobbies would be how we thrive. The elderly would be respected and well cared for. Children would have a childhood and taught to be free thinkers. Everyone would know everyone, and if you didn’t want to play along and live by our values, you could leave the community and go live somewhere else.
What are you passionate about these days?
WRITING! I live in a little bubble and don’t care for celebrity culture or negativity.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I go for long walks in the countryside. I make an effort to quieten the mental chatter and live completely in the moment. Beauty can be seen in everything. Even a gloomy grey sky can be enchanting.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Creative, understanding, compassionate, happy, & silly.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was always fascinated by authors, and child-me genuinely believed they had super powers. I don’t really know why the creator of the story fascinated me more than the story. I used to stand in my local book store and stare at each individual book. But I wasn’t looking at the titles; I was mesmerised by each individual author’s name. Sadly, I believed being an author was something you knew you were born to be. So, I used my secondary school English teacher to validate myself and work out if I was one of them.
I had an assignment where I had to write a short story about anything. I absolutely loved the whole process, and I wanted to know if I was BORN to write. For some reason, I was particularly proud of one sentence in my story, and I thought that this sentence would determine if I was born to write. I handed my story in for marking and when I received it back, I turned eagerly to this ‘life changing’ sentence. The teacher HAD noticed my sentence! But she said it was unrealistic. Well, that was it. I clearly wasn’t born to write, and I put away my notebook, not believing I could do it until fifteen years later. Until I grew old enough to realise authors were not born to write; they learnt to write.
So, when did I consider myself a writer? At 28 years old when I finally had the confidence to say, “I’m writing a book.”
Do you have a favorite movie?
Bridge to Terabithia! It has a sad ending but the story reminds me of my childhood, playing up the stables with my brother
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie? Oh, The Guidal, for sure.
What inspired you to write this book?
I actually started writing non-fiction, but whilst I was writing it, I knew deep down it wasn’t what I wanted to write. The problem was I just didn’t have the story. Until one night I had a powerful dream and woke up in the morning like ‘Wow! This is my story.’
I was myself in the dream and arrived in the middle of a scene, but everyone was acting the same way. One person realised I wasn’t behaving the same way and he told me I had to pretend to be like everyone else or the antagonist would know I was the Guidal. The dream was terrifying and, as with all dreams, I genuinely feared for my life. The whole dream was me basically just trying to copy everyone and not get noticed. At one point the antagonist was in my face staring into my eyes after he detected something abnormal about my behaviour. He hurt me for a prolonged time, increasing the pain and trying to get me to react but I manged to stay in character like the others would have, and he backed off. When I woke up, I knew I had my story. The institute, antagonist, and protagonist came from the dream. I plotted for about a week before I started writing the first chapter.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Another two books in the series.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Well, in Chapter One you are introduced to the Navy receptionist, Nunetta. She is actually an ex-Enforcer and knows Aurora’s birth parents. She has history with Aurora’s mother and this is the hidden reason why she takes an instant dislike to Aurora.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
So the concept, antagonist, and protagonist came from my dream, but the other characters were created during the plotting phase. Characters would come as feelings at first, depending on where they placed in the story, and then their personalities would develop as the story progressed. They took control of their own fates. I originally thought Brindan was timid, but when he would enter a scene, I could feel he was a little bit more self-assured than I originally thought. He gets embarrassed easily but it doesn’t stop him from being confident. He knows he is entitled as a Young Enforcer and he knows he is in the popular crowd, but his softer side is attracted to Pax’s personality, which is one of the reasons why they are best friends. He is slightly arrogant and confident, but he also has a soft nature…not as soft as Pax though. Brindan’s ego is bigger with a need to dominate over people.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
I like names that sound like common names but are yet unique, even if that’s just a slight difference in pronunciation. Bethoney and Maigen are variations of Bethony and Megan. Brindan is Brendon.
Silliah, Pipila, Kiwick, Iddle, Borgon, and Kimly, were names I made up but wanted easy to pronounce. Two names I thought I made up, I later discovered I didn’t! Saulwyn and Ryker.
I would feel the personality of the character and then name them. Sometimes it would take a while before the right name came along. Pax took the longest to name, but as soon as I stumbled across it, I knew it was the one. It just instantly clicked. Tayo was always Tayo—he just is Tayo. And the same for Aurora. She just is Aurora. They were names that came easily and stuck straight away.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Writing is pure escapism, more so than reading. I loved being in my world day in, day out, spending all my free time with my characters. It was actually pure bliss, and you really grow close to your characters.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Aurora is rebellious and stubborn. She doesn’t really mean to be; it’s just part of her nature. She’s a little naive, doesn’t really concern herself with much, and keeps herself to herself. This confidence to be herself, not needing anybody for validation, is what draws people to her. Deep down she desires to go home, go back in time and grow up with her parents. Because of this, she will always need her Nanny Kimly no matter how old she gets.
Pax is naturally talented with a playful side which can sometimes be competitive. He is popular; he knows it, but he doesn’t care for it. He also doesn’t care much for the institute despite obstinately following the rules. His calm demeanour makes him a natural leader. People like him because he is gentle, caring, thoughtful, and understanding.
Tayo is Tayo. He is mischievous and rebellious, as well as being clever and extremely self-confident. He understands people and makes friends easily. It is his hatred for injustices which makes him want to help people. He also loves documentaries and food, but his real obsession you’ll find out in the book.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
The title came from the dream. Even though I didn’t know it would be the title of the book, I woke up repeating it and repeating it just because it had such an impact on me.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned I can overcome anxiety. I learned writers are not BORN knowing they can write. I learned writing the book is the easy part… marketing is a different story!
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Elle Fanning. She has the right blend of innocence and badass.
How did you come up with name of this book? The Guidal came from my dream and I made up Puracordis. When I first did a google search, it returned no results. The meaning of Puracordis is a little bit of a spoiler, so I’m going to have to keep it to myself for a while
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
I love the institute and how everyone grows up together. The best part of school for me was my friendship group. I love being able to recreate this in my book.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Although I love the institute, it would have to be Tayo. We would wait until dark and break Curfew!
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
They are all from my imagination except the Navy receptionist. She is an old manager who took an instant dislike to me the moment we met crossing on the stairs. To this day, I have no idea what I did. I just knew she didn’t like me from the short conversation we had on the stairs. I had always gotten along with all the previous managers, and I was on annual leave when the new manager started. My name was up on award boards, so I knew she must have been waiting to meet me. I thought our first conversation would have gone differently.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
THEM! ALLLLL THEM! Just read some of my tweets! You’ll see how much they control the story. I’m always asking the writing community for help. I think the problem is, when you plot certain scenes, you don’t consider the characters personality completely. It’s only when you write the scene, the character then shows you their true personality and real reaction. This can lead the story astray.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
It only gets better. The Guidal: Discovering Puracordis is only the appetiser. You will not be able to guess where the book is going and you most likely haven’t read anything like it.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Only the non-fiction I started but never finished.
What did you edit out of this book? I originally started writing chapter one in 3rdperson following Tayo. It wasn’t right and I knew I had to change it. I rewrote the whole chapter in 1stperson from Aurora’s POV. Hardly anything from the first draft remained in the second revision.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
I have imposter syndrome when it comes to this subject because after I decided I wasn’t BORN to be a writer, I would feel deep sadness whenever I tried to read. I loved reading when I was child and would even walk to school with a book in my hand. But since secondary school I could only read non-fiction. I love books about real life, spirituality and self-help. As I child my favourite authors were Jaqueline Wilson, C.S Lewis, and JK Rowling.
What book do you think everyone should read? You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
by Jen Sincero This is the book that gave me the confidence to start writing.
How long have you been writing?
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
All the main characters came at the same time: Aurora, Pax, Tayo, Silliah, Ryker, Pipila, Brindan, Nanny Kimly, Seioh Boulderfell, Seioh Jennson.
The rest came as I wrote.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I research everything before I write about it. It makes for some interesting conversations when you know a lot about something you shouldn’t.
As for what research I did before writing the book…hardly anything. I didn’t want anything to put me off. I wanted to write a book and I didn’t want anything to deter me. The only research I did was the recommended word count for a YA dystopian novel. Even whilst researching this, I read things I didn’t want to know, things about the publishing journey which could have put me off, but I blocked it out.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. I will always write, and I not only found my passion but my purpose in life.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
I was naive going in to it. I thought a good story would mean easy publishing but it is NOT! No matter how good the story is, you need credibility or a lucky break. I got a lucky break with my publishers after participating in a Twitter event. I learnt a good story is not enough on its own to get published.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre? I started reading fiction again 4 years ago.I love dystopian, magic, romance, and fantasy novels with a real-world setting.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I have to listen to music. I usually listen to country music—I have no idea why! But occasionally I do choose music to help me write a scene. To write the Parkour Games I listen to really dramatic classical music.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I have to write one at a time because the story is too complex to write multiple books at once.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero because perhaps I could help people realise their dreams like this book did for me.
Pen or type writer or computer?
I write on my computer mainly, my Notes app on my iPhone when I’m on the go, and a pen and paper on the desk when I’m at work.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
It was my obsession with stories and their creators. I was fascinated by how they made me feel real emotions and I always wanted to be able to do it. During my twenties I would secretly envy any character on TV who would say “I’m a writer.”
It is most definitely, 100% the right decision. I couldn’t be anything else. I went my whole life believing I wasn’t born to be a writer… only to realise it’s the only thing I was born for.
Do you have any advice to offer for new authors?
You have to write the story you want to read. When you are looking for your next book or scrolling through Netflix, pay attention to the tropes and genre you are looking for, and then write it.
If you are young, get a university degree in language, take creative writing classes, and start building your social media following. Get out there, be on show, and prove to people you are a genuine person. Always be professional. Agents need to be able to sell you as well as your book to publishing houses, so be marketable.
Use the writing community on social media to help you polish your manuscript. Beta readers will give you honest feedback, so lick your wounds, and then edit your manuscript. Don’t think you know it all, but do have belief in your story.
Describe your writing style.
My writing style is easy to read and easy to understand. I like there to be a balance between dialogue and narration. I don’t like info dumping. I prefer to keep scenes moving and don’t like staying in one place for too long unless something good is happening.
What makes a good story?
When it’s multi-layered with well-rounded characters. I need to be routing for the character to not get bored.
What are you currently reading?
Strange Gods by Alison Kimble
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I have to outline to avoid plot holes, and when the characters take over, I have to outline again. I learnt from writing The Guidal: Discovering Puracordis not to outline in too much detail. You need to give your characters room to take the reins.
I know roughly what needs to happen, and I gently push them in the right direction. But if the characters really resist, because sometimes they do, sometimes you don’t account for their personality and they react differently to what you thought, then let them rewrite the story.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to be original. I want it so the readers don’t really know what they want. Of course I want them to be satisfied when they reach their destination, but I don’t want them knowing where they are going.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
“Youcando it. Trust me. I’ve seen it.”
How long on average does it take you to write a book? The Guidal: Discovering Puracordis took a year. Book 2 took longer because I was focusing on getting book one published. Book three will probably take even longer because I will be focusing on promoting book one and book two.
Do you believe in writer’s block? I have a YouTube video on this. I don’t believe we should see it as a physical block because it’s not. There will be somethingstoppingyou from writing notblockingyou. If it’s motivation, lack of idea, or a dead end in your current WIP, then there are ways of combating it.
Follow the tourHEREfor special content and a giveaway!