Friday 5 July 2019

The Power of Words by Julie Pike

Today on the blog, I'm pleased to welcome Julie Pike, author of The 
Last Breather, as part of the blog tour to celebrate publication. 
Do you remember this old saying? 

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. 

Have you ever chanted it? I remember chanting it many times when 
I was growing up, particularly at my brother! (And he, of course, 
would say the same to me.)
As with all old sayings, it has a message to tell us. It says, ignore 
the barbs and taunts of bullies. It says, words are only thoughts or 
made of breath, they don’t have physical substance, they can’t hurt
The thing is … it’s not true and never has been. Words do have the
 power to hurt and they can be relentless. And unlike wounds from 
sticks and stones, if we believe them, the scars from words
 sometimes never heal.
When I came to write The Last Spell Breather, I wanted to create a
 magical page turning adventure. I wanted the story to have the 
most powerful magic I could think of. So I wondered, ‘what if…?’.
 What if there was a world where words have REAL power and 
their magic can be seen?  And from there I went on to imagine the
 world of Spell Breathers.
I’ve been fortunate to have some lovely early reviews for The Last
 Spell Breather.I’m delighted when reviewers remark on the 
uniqueness of the magic system. But I’ll let you into a secret, I 
didn’t really invent the magic. The thing about words is, they really
 are magic.
Over the years I’ve felt their power. I know words can hurt. And I 
also know words can heal. The most powerful magic lies in the 
words we tell ourselves, because those are the words we believe the
If you’ve met me, you’ll probably be surprised to learn that I have a 
phobia when it comes to speaking in public. (Ah careful with the 
word-magic there, Julie. You don’t havea phobia. You had 
My subconscious used to whisper the Spell of Unworthiness in my
 ear. It used to say ‘no-one’s interested in my opinion. What I have
 to say doesn’t matter. I’m rubbish at this, I may as well stop 
talking.’ Those words hurt. 
Because I believed them, speaking in public (for my job) led to 
panic attacks. After a while I became so anxious I had problems 
speaking at all, never mind speaking in public. 
I couldn’t go on like that. Things had to change. I forced myself to 
face my fears about speaking, instead of running away from them.
 (Which took a lot longer than that short sentence would suggest). 
I’m so glad I did, because in doing so I learned that words can be 
wonderful healers. I’m not talking about ‘fake it to make it’ (though
 that can be useful sometimes). I’m talking about opening myself 
up to the possibilities of new truths. I’m talking about finding new
 words to think about myself. New words I actually believe. 
These days, when the old phobia starts to stir, my subconscious 
whispers the Spell of You Can Do Thisin my ear. It says ‘this will 
be interesting. My opinions will add to the collective. I’m great at 
this, so get in there and start talking.’ These words drown out my 
old thoughts and heal the scars they left behind.
Good job really because this author malarkey comes with a boat
 load of public speaking. I absolutely don’t want to miss the chance
 to meet brilliant readers because I’m running in the other direction!
There’s another old saying, ‘write what you know.’ When I came to 
invent the magic system for my story, I knew words can hurt, and 
words can heal. And that’s why you’ll find both types of word-
magic in The Last Spell Breather
But I don’t want to give away plot spoilers! Suffice to say …
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words … 
that’s a whole different story. 
P.S. If you’re ever in the audience at one of my author events, my
 old public speaking phobic self would greatly appreciate plenty of
 enthusiastic clapping, and if you’re in the mood, a few whoops and 
cheers!  I’ve learned from experience, that’s absolutely guaranteed 
to keep me talking 😊


Julie grew up on a council estate, nestled between the forests and 
foothills of the Welsh Valleys. She is passionate about adventure 
stories, and volunteers in local schools and libraries in Dorset, 
helping children find stories that excite them. She is passionate 
about real-life adventures too, and has crawled inside the great 
pyramid of Giza, travelled to the peak of Kilimanjaro, and camped 
on the Great Wall of China in a lightning storm.
Twitter: @juliepike

To find out more about the book, check out the other stops on the blog tour listed below. 

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