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Friday, May 2, 2014

Taking Tea with Ebony McKenna... Ondine and Snowgoating

Thank God, it's Friday and for an extra special Friday treat I have EBONY McKENNA with me today.  EBONY is the Emeritus Professor (Hon.) of BRUGELESE STUDIES and author of the wonderful ONDINE SERIES of young adult books set in the (fictional) kingdom of Brugel. 

You may recall she visited me back in September 2013 (Taking Tea with Ebony McKenna) and we enjoyed an interesting introductory discussion on the history and culture of Brugel, a small country somewhere in Eastern Europe. You may have difficulty finding it on a map...

It is a little known fact about Brugel that it was a candidate for the 1984 Winter Olympics. Despite an absence of mountains, Brugel is in fact the world champion in "Snowgoating" and it felt for that reason alone it should be considered. The Olympic Committee disagreed... 

However the snub severely offended the Brugelese and here to set the record straight on the beloved sport of "Snowgoating" is Ebony McKenna.

Welcome, Ebony. George has polished the samovar...

It's wonderful to be taking tea again with you. I've made a pot of my new favourite tea, Brugelish Brunch. Brugel is the country in Eastern Europe where my Ondine novels are set. Brugelish Brunch tea is an aromatic black tea that goes beautifully with a slice of lemon. It's designed to always be drunk as a black tea, and was blended specifically for students living in shared accommodation, who can never be too sure if the milk's fresh. They also struggle to wake up prior to breakfast.

There's a goat eating the cakes...

Don't mind the house goats, they're very friendly, but don't put your scarf over the back of the chair, they're likely to run off with it.  (AS... too late and it was my favourite pashmina too. I wonder if I should point out that eating my scarf is a form of cannibalism...?

We're heading into winter here in Australia, Ebony, which for Brugelese expats means ramping up the training for the SnowGoating season. The readers would love to know more about this sport.

It's a relatively new sport in Australia. It originated in Brugel, hundreds of years ago. Don't let anyone tell you SnowGoating began in the neighbouring country of Slaegal. It's simply not true.

The main difficulty in SnowGoating here in Australia is of course finding decent amounts of snow (it must be at least two metres thick). New Zealand has much more reliable snow, all year round in some places. Alas, the goats aren't as interested.

Future champions getting acclimatised to the altitude.
A compliant champion goat is essential to a good SnowGoating season. Start with a young goat (called a kid). Colour is not important, but flexibility is. The tighter they can tuck themselves into a ball the better. Early training in hessian sacks is fine provided the goat is happy and comfortable. Hoof binding is not acceptable under any conditions.

Two horns or four is fine, but a lack of snow hampers the competition.

For a good SnowGoating competition, you'll need to herd at least six goats (or ten) to the top of a snow-covered mountain. Once they're in a straight line, (this can take some time) trainers encourage their goats to reach the finish line at the bottom of the hill. Goats can slide, roll, or ski on their horns. Or ride another goat if they feel like it (at least, that's what we tell the kids when some of the goats get a little frisky).

Points are awarded for speed, panache and kilograms of snow collected on their wool on the way down.

When the snow melts, the goats then move into their summer training schedule, which includes tree climbing, surfing and sprints in the sand.

This Billy and Nanny goat train all year round.

Champion Snowgoat "Monarch of the Vale" (deceased)

Thank you for that interesting lecture, Ebony... I'm not sure I'm any clearer about the sport of Snowgoating but in the interests of impartiality, all I can say is "All the very best for Brugel in this year's Snowgoating Championships"!

What else is happening in your life...?

In other news, slightly related to winter and Brugel, but not to goats, is that the third book in the Ondine series is out at last, just in time for spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn down here. Naturally.

This third enthralling instalment in the young adult fantasy romance series takes a dark turn, as the country of Brugel descends into anarchy.


Mutating magic is spreading across Europe. 'Normals' are developing supernatural powers at a startling rate and 16-year-old Ondine appears to be at the heart of it.

To unravel the mystery, Ondine and her boyfriend (and part-time ferret) Hamish infiltrate CovenCon, a gathering of hundreds of witches presided over by wanna-be-witch-queen Mrs Howser. There, she tempts Ondine with an intriguing offer - but can Mrs Howser be trusted? It transpires the powerful witch has her claws in the arrogant royal heir Lord Vincent, in a covert bid to control all of Brugel.

As dark magic riots break out in the nation's capital, Ondine is left with a heart-breaking choice that could tear her apart from her beloved Hamish. Forever.

The Winter of Magic is the third novel in Ebony McKenna's comedic and wonderfully weird four-part ONDINE series. Fans will devour this spellbinding adventure, which will have readers gasping in shock and laughing with delight. Occasionally at the same time.

Connect with Ebony McKenna:

twitter -!/EbonyMcKenna

email -

web -

*** No goats were harmed in the making of this post.

And don't forget to enter my May Rafflecopter contest...extra points for leaving a comment on this post!