Meet Young Adult and Middle Grade author,

Chris Billingsley

Hello, and thank you for visiting. No writer is ever alone in the work they create. Inspiration comes from the most unlikely places and once it gets inside of you, it is very reluctant to let go.

Under the Ravens Watch was born of necessity, but raised with love and encouragement. Here's some insight into its creation. 

In 2011, I gave my grade 7 and 8 class this challenge: "I'd like you to tell me a story in one sentence." They looked at me liked I was crazy. 

"But it can't be done!" 

So, as any awesome teacher would do,  I created an exemplar to model for my students and projected this line onto the SmartBoard(tm)

"A seventeen-year-old boy, and a magical tower of London raven must resurrect an ancient guild called, The Raven's Watch, to rescue his sister from an evil sorcerer before he turns her to the dark side."

And the students LOVED it.

Using their enthusiasm and excitement as motivation, I churned out TEN chapters the first month. I tried out my one paragraph synopsis on other students around the school, under the guise that I was looking for a "Read Aloud", and was considering this book.  It went something like this;

"Seventeen-year-old Henry Halstead is in deep trouble. His parents are missing, their country Manor burned to the ground, and what’s worse, the Emperor he’s destined to destroy has kidnapped his little sister. And it’s all his fault. Thanks, in part, to his rightful place in The Raven’s Watch - an ancient order of magical guardians, once thought destroyed – the Emperor now knows that Charlotte is to become very powerful. In order to reduce the population by eradicating those he deems ‘flawed’, Emperor Voth will need to turn her against The Watch, and her brother."

The response was overwhelming. I was flooded with comments like, "What book is that?", "Is that in our library?", "Can I read it?"

Over the next year and a half, I wrote as much as I could when I had time. I had written up to the end of Part II: The Island, but my forward progressed had stalled and months passed without much writing being done.

Two visits within one week of each other proved to be the motivation I needed to get back to the story and finish the manuscript. 

The first visit was a class trip to the London Central Library to listen to Wesley King, author of the Vindico (thevindico.com) speak about writing, and his novels. (which, by the way was the winner of the Red Maple contest, so I highly recommend that you read the Vindico and the sequel Feros right now!)

Actually. Wait. You need to finish reading this first.

While listening to Wes speak, my story-telling juices started to flow and I knew I had to finish my book.  When he said that "Out of 100 people who start a novel, only 3 will finish. Of those three, only one will see it published."

It was right then and there, that I decided that I was going to be one of the three.

And I was going to be the one.

You can imagine my thrill when I approached Wes after the presentation and he graciously offered to read it over and give me some feedback.  Needless to say, the next few chapters poured out like water from a crumbling dam. I sent it to Wes a few weeks later and as he promised, he returned it to me with some feedback, encouraging words and an offer to help me along the way as a mentor. I am forever indebted to Wesley King and Wes, if you are reading this, I offer my most sincere appreciation.

The second visit came form two former students, Liam and Tad, who were in grade ten now, returned to my classroom to visit me. The first question Liam asked was if I had finished my book. I was already motivated to finish, but to have these boys come back over a year later and ask about it had a profound affect on me. it showed me that this story was worth writing and worth fighting for.

Liam read the first (awful!) draft and loved it.  He wants to play Keyln in the movie.

I have an amazing circle of friends and family that support me and have a long list of people who want to be beta readers. I have colleagues that were the very first beta readers who trudged through contraction hell, and too much "telling" and not enough "showing" to support this quest.

My manuscript is nestled safely in the wondrously magical hands of my agent Marisa Corvisiero of the Corvisiero Literary Agency, and I could not be more excited to be working with such an amazing agent. 

I have answered the Call to Adventure and am looking forward to taking my first step into Departure.

Stay Tuned!