Of Dawns and Dreams
When I close my eyes and think back to my earliest memories I can see the flames in the fireplace in our old house in Australia, the tiled floors hidden underneath the mountain ranges of books stretching out from underneath my feet, and me amidst it all. I think it was in this moment, with the embers licking at my blanket and pages cutting into my hands that I knew I wanted to be a storyteller. Someone who could weave tales and create words and have the power to dream with their eyes open. For me, reading was always that, a way to embark on a daring adventure without ever having to leave my fireplace. I couldn’t imagine right then, wrapped in my blanket before the flickering coals, that one day I would. That one day, very soon, I would travel far and wide to the distant lands within my books and make friends with the bold and dashing characters within.
My love of the written word only grew within me when we embarked on our world travels, a journey of learning and discovery that would see us share stories with people from all walks of life in every corner of the world. From the Aboriginal People of Australia to the living descendants of the Incas in the Andes of Peru and the Berbers of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.
Everywhere we travelled, the stories lit our way, but it was with my backpack on my back, bearing down upon my shoulders with all the weight of all the books I had managed to pack inside before it became too hard for me to walk, that we discovered Arcos de la Frontera. Here, deep in the heart of the Spanish countryside on the medieval Moorish crossroads, I found my own story. It came to me in the form of a black, brown eyed Patterdale Terrier. His name was Fūko and the moment I laid eyes upon him, he became the Guardian. The way he gazed back at me I could tell he knew.
There, on the woodland trails and cobblestone streets and wide, open, empty fields of Andalusia, lay my plot twists and character arcs and storylines. They were in little pieces scattered across the dust and in my mind I could see every jagged edge of the puzzle. I just had to put it together.
We landed in Budapest with my fingers furiously tapping upon the keyboard and for nine months through Autumn all the way until the first blooms of Spring I wrote. I wrote until I thought I could write no longer and then I wrote some more. It was only on a quiet eve just a few weeks before my 13th birthday that I sat back in my chair and let my fingers rest. In front of my eyes lay a book. My book. In my mind, the flickering flames of a little fireplace began to crackle and I heard the words of an old friend echo in my head. They had first been spoken at the 2013 TEDxYouth Budapest conference when I had got up on stage just a few weeks after my time in Andalusia and spoke of a dream of mine. The dream of having my book written and published and displayed in the window of my favourite Libri bookstore. My friend and interviewer smiled and said for me to never give up. To pursue and persevere and then come back and tell her of a dream made reality.
For almost four years her words echoed in my mind. They echoed when we walked the 838 kilometre Camino de Santiago del Norte and I decided to return to my first draft and rework it, adding more depth to the story and characters. They echoed when I traveled back to Australia for the first time in four and a half years and self-published Dawn of the Guardian when I was 14. They echoed when we set off on its International Book Tour and they echoed throughout the 45,000 kilometres we traveled to schools, libraries, bookstores, and communities of learning across Australia, The UK, The United States, Canada and Mexico.
They echoed through every setback, every challenge, every obstacle I faced and it was only now, returning to my ancestors’ origins here in Hungary that the echoing stopped. For I am now on the cusp of doing what my little 12-year-old self could only dream about. My book is about to be published in Hungarian, in my mother tongue and I am overwhelmed in my gratitude to all those who kept me believing and persisting.
For if this ongoing journey has taught me anything at all, it is that dreams are dreamt for a reason. They come to us in the middle of the starry night when all the world is silent and they speak to the very core of our hearts. And we must answer. For who knows how far the path may lead and who knows what lies just beyond the fireplace.