Andrew and his older brother Nicholas were separated as children.
Nicholas had been snatched away by the Prince of Darkness, and Andrew had all but given up hope, but now their mother is ill, and he’s determined to reunite them before she passes – despite her objections.
With his dog Jenny by his side, Andrew sets out on an epic and perilous crusade well beyond his wildest imagination, facing evil protectors, giant wolves, dark magic, Sorcerers, Goblins, and even the Prince of Darkness himself.
Then there’s The Great Tree.
It’s enormous, with a presence that’s nearly impossible to describe…
And it’s clearly the heart of the kingdom of the wicked Sorcerer.
This is the setting for the adventure story that changed Christmas forever!
Young people and adults of all ages will enjoy this thrilling fable in the same way we’ve enjoyed other great Christmas stories of the past.
Jenny the dog is based on a very real Jenny, the author’s vision of a true warrior – who has her own inspiring story that he’s happy to share with anyone who asks.
All proceeds from the sale of The Great Tree go to The Last Road Dog Animal Sanctuary to rescue unadoptable dogs, cats, and horses, an approved 501 (c)(3) Animal Public Welfare Charity that greatly appreciates the ongoing support of readers like you!
Able Barrett is a former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and U.S. Department of Justice Organized Crime Strike Force Prosecutor who shamelessly admits he loves animals more than most people, and he’s the manager of The Last Road Dog Animal Sanctuary.
Andrew & The Treasured Spirit of the Northland
I enter the darkness that has been cultured for thousands of years, the legends of life gone by, ringing within its corridors with a deafening silence. I feel the presence of both good and evil, which seem to loosely pull at me. Which direction to take? A light can only slightly penetrate the thickness of the darkness. Faces begin to appear as ghost-like images; it’s a warning, which I do not heed.
The images become clearer. They are the faces of beautiful women, goddesses perhaps; they draw my very being deeper into the darkness, serenaded by their gentle voices lifting away my fear of the unknown. I am floating now, effortlessly on a bed of soft blowing air. I am totally consumed. Have I fallen under a spell? I call out for help.
Suddenly there is a flash of brilliant light and the real faces of the women are revealed to me. They are the true evil ones, the guardians of the darkness, the Temptress Sirens of the Dark Lords. They have surrounded me. I see a faint light in the distance. I begin to run towards the light, I feel Temptress Sirens clawing at me as I try to go towards the light in hopes of a safe passage. I hear a voice ever so softly… “Don’t go to the light…….Don’t go to the light…….It will deceive you. Use your faith and follow your heart.”
I stop but I can feel the Temptress Sirens stalking me. I move through the complete darkness with my eyes closed now. There then appears a golden mist that forms a stairway leading upward through the darkness. Without hesitation, I follow the stairway climbing slowly out of the darkness. I can still feel the draw of the Temptress Sirens at my back growing stronger. I become weary as I continue to climb. The strength of the Temptress Sirens is beginning to hold me back. I fear I cannot make it to the top. A silhouetted hand appears from out of the darkness above me. I do not know whether to take it. I have no choice. I grab the hand and a gentle pull brings me away from the grasp of the Temptress Sirens. I hear their shrieks of madness slowly fade away as I am pulled forward.
A gentle light appears and an Angel appears before me. She has the youthful beauty of a thousand ages. I hear her gentle voice speaking to me yet her lips do not move. Her name is Afriel. She is a being of light charged with safeguarding young life. She is to protect that which is youthful and tenderly growing within each of us, no matter how old we actually are. Afriel grants youth, vigor, and vitality. She places her hand on my forehead and closes her eyes as she nods her head and says, “go forward and save your brother, Nicholas.”
How did you do research for your book?
I start of course with my own knowledge; from there I am pretty impatient so I go to the internet and reliable sources. Since my books are mostly fiction I can make up anything I want, although I like to be as close to the truth as possible to make it believable which is always a goal of mine.
Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?
Nicholas was the hardest; here is a guy we swept away by the Prince of Darkness as a kid and transformed into something he was not; but he remembers deep in his soul what he was like. The easiest was Andrew and Jenny; that was me and my girl Jenny, so very easy.
Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
I was working on a project and as I sat in my office out the window I saw this huge tree sitting on a hill in the distance, shaped perfectly and it came to my mind immediately what a “Great Tree” and the rest just fell into place.
There are many books out there about Christmas. What makes yours different?
I could not find a book/story about how Santa Claus (St. Nick) came to be; also how did this Christmas tree celebration come to be. It may be the first book about how St. Nick and Christmas Tree celebration came to be; at least to my knowledge.
What advice would you give budding writers?
Just go for it! Don’t let any excuse stop you. Failure is not a good reason not to try; otherwise nothing would get done.
Your book is set in an alternative world. What inspired that?
The Great Tree is set somewhere between the 7 Kingdoms, Middle Earth, and the Shire. Great places that I love in lore and from great writers.
In your book you focus on the brothers’ bond. Why is that?
Two young men together were the only powers on earth that had the power to defeat the evil before them. It is the key to the book and story, without it, the story fails.
If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
That is an easy one Andrew and Jenny; that was me and my girl Jenny, so very easy.
Do you have another profession besides writing?
I am manager of The Last Road Dog Animal Rescue where we have a home for the unadoptable dogs, cats and horses that otherwise would be homeless or worse. I get to spend every day with my animal buddies which is a life all dream; while at the same time to write; nothing is better than that for me.
How long have you been writing?
The Great Tree only took 25 years to finish.
Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?
Absolutely. Drop it for a while then just jump back into when you least expect it and boom you are at it again.
What is your next project?
“Life Beneath the Surface.” It is about a man that wakes up in the sweat lodge of an Indian medicine man, who just brought him back to life, when all else failed. He has a little memory of his past except that he remembers his wife, Aurora, was killed. It goes from there…
What genre do you write and why?
Fiction; fantasy, animals and sometimes epics, but always a good yarn!
What is the last great book you’ve read?
What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?
“I really like your story but really loved the pictures!”
How are you similar to or different from your lead character?
I was a young man very similar to Andrew, as his persona is that of my own at that age, at least from my perspective, in particular his love of Jenny.
If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?
Andrew: Timothee Chalamet
Nicholas: Tom Holland
Aurora: Sydney Sweeney
If your book were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
A movie score by Hans Zimmer; Lead Song by Lady Gaga; and Directed by Antoine Fuqua
What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?
Making it as perfect as you can; proofed to perfection and getting the pictures to match your mind’s eye and then getting people to read it!.
In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?
Long and winding road!
What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Just go for it. You will be surprised what you have inside you, that just needs a jump start to get going, and the you will have a great fun doing it.
Which authors inspired you to write?
J. R.R. Tolkien
George R.R. Martin
What is something you had to cut from your book that you wish you could have kept?
A deeper dive into the personalities of Andrew and Nicholas but it slowed the pace of the book too much.
Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?
Nope! I work best on an empty stomach.
Where do you write?
In my office with my dogs all around me. The atmosphere is perfect.
Do you write every day?
It goes in spurts. Days at time and then a break, sometimes caused by life’s ever-changing events.
What is your writing schedule?
Late nights when it is quiet.
Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time?
I like having a movie I have seen a million times but has a good soundtrack in the background.
In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?
I have because it is actually faster and you can do an outline form much faster, at least in my case that sometimes is the only way to keep up with my brain pumping out ideas quickly and rather in random order.
If you’re a mom writer, how do you balance your time?
I am a dad to my dogs, and I find the time with them is in balance at all times.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
431 BC – 404 BC to the Greek and Sparta era; the time of my ancestors!
Favorite travel spot?
Don’t like deserts; but I would like to visit the Sahara Desert.
If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you?
Boat building book for novice; Edible native plants; and The Bible.
If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?
My compassion and caring for animals.
What is something you’ve learned about yourself during the pandemic?
That is my life; it didn’t change much during the pandemic, because I pretty much stayed at home most of my life anyway; it is typical, not atypical.
What TV series are you currently binge watching?
Kojak – he is of Greek heritage too.
What is your theme song?
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
What is your favorite thing to do in winter?
Playing with my kids (dogs and cats); going on hikes with them is wonderful, even better in the snow.
What is a favorite Christmas tradition (or memory)?
I love watching It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. I first saw it when I was about 14 or 15 and I lived outside of Chicago, where I grew up. It was on the local PBS station. I started watching just when Gorge Bailey is on bridge and about to jump in to commit suicide when Clarence, his guarding angel, saves him. After the movie was over I went outside at about 1 in the morning and it was snowing big snowflakes outside and it was an absolutely beautiful night out, with the snow gently falling ever so gently. I will remember it forever.
What song is currently playing on a loop in your head?
Walking in Memphis
What is something that made you laugh recently?
When Jenny just starts to roll over on her back and scratches in the grass, always cracks me up as funny and happy because she is so happy.
What is your go-to breakfast item?
Hard Boiled Egg
Whole Grain English Muffin
What is the oldest item of clothing you own?
I have t-shirts from high school days from the 1970s.
Tell us about your longest friendship.
I have some friends that we get together every year in summer that date back to grade school days, about 60 years; Rob, Will, Jimmy, Scott, and Cookie. Rob and I are the closest. I pray for their good health and prosperity every day.
What is the strangest way you’ve become friends with someone?
I saved (adopted) a couple of dogs Pebbles and Bambam from a no kill shelter in 2004; they had been dropped off when they were just puppies on the shelter doorstep; and had been there for 5 years. Pebbles was quite famous as she one night opened the gate to the puppies’ room and they found a bag of kibble and they all feasted until morning when they were found. Pebbles and Bambam were great dogs and I loved them both. The lady that helped me adopt them; we became very good friends from then on; even today.
Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
An actress that went to my high school, before my time, but I still had quite a crush on her, even today, Ann-Margret.
My thoughts: this was an adventure story about one young man and his dog, Jenny, going on an epic quest to find his missing brother and save him from the darkness. There’s magic and danger but the bond between Andrew and Jenny, as they fight to redeem Nick and return to their home, is at the heart of the story. An enjoyable holiday fantasy. And all proceeds from the book go to support an animal charity. Whi
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.