By Mark Pallett
Key Themes: fiction, OCD, depression, self help
Mark has tried his best to sculpt his advice for others into a work of fiction that anyone could enjoy and that would hopefully serve as a source of comfort and inspiration to other troubled minds. He wrote The Little Ranger as a fantasy fiction piece for a middle grade audience, but primarily as a form of self-help guide for sufferers of OCD and just to hopefully help people overcome adversity in general. The young protagonist, Jay Silver, is part of a long line of Rangers, famed warriors and protectors of the way of life in the forest in which they live. However, he has crippling self-doubt that dogs his every move and thought. Jay's quest to overcome this ailment and unlock the extraordinary potential that dwells within him is the focus of the novel.
About the Author
Mark Christopher Pallett was born in Kent, England. He has personally suffered from a very severe form of OCD ever since adolescence. Before then his obsessional thoughts and behaviours were welcome and even beneficial, but when adolescence kicked in his OCD became a burden. Having suffered in silence for a couple of years he finally sought help and even spent time at a clinic in Windsor fearing he was having some kind of breakdown. He has been off and on medication since and seen a number of psychologists. Mark completed a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature at the University of Leicester and two years ago moved to San Diego, California to live with Pam, his American wife who he met in England, she is a researcher in psychology. Prior to completing his degree Mark frequented the OCD Centre in Knightsbridge, London and gained valuable help from India Haylor and key advice about unlocking the brain. He still suffers from depression and anxiety but feels like he has learned a great deal about how to cope with OCD and reduce it to the level of harmless background noise.
The evening before the festival of Winterlong had always held a special place in Jay’s heart. Peering out from the frost-lined main window on the landing of his home afforded him an excellent view of the decorations in the village. Splendid, glittering purple dragons and platinum stars weaved in and out of the golden festoons that formed a majestic lattice over the main street of Thorn Haven. He had to admit that this was one of the better years in recent memory. Squinting against the bright evening sunset, Jay noted with delight a herd of reindeer in the front garden of Tarquin Dewdrop, the village Mage. He could tell immediately, from the way they moved, that the proud creatures had been created and animated solely with the use of magic.
‘Trust old Dewdrop to pull an ace from the deck and trump the rest of us,’ came a smoky voice from over his shoulder. For some reason Jay was not startled by this sudden intrusion, perhaps because the voice of his grandfather was so soothing and peaceful, or perhaps because he was too busy wondering how an older man had managed to sneak up on him without detection.
‘I should have heard you coming granddad,’ Jay uttered somewhat gloomily, the disappointment clear in his voice.
‘Don’t let it trouble you,’ said his grandfather, ruffling Jay’s tousled mop of blond hair. ‘Don’t forget that I was once Thorn Haven’s Head Ranger, before your father took on the position. Allow an old man to revel in the skills he has left to him.’
‘I didn’t forget, I just… I suppose I still have a lot to learn.’
‘Less than you think Jay… but then everyone always has something to learn, or life would lose its purpose. Let’s forget about all this for now, eh. Winterlong is a time for jubilation, and I hear your mother has rustled up some of her notorious mulled blackberry wine.’ The mention of mulled wine was enough to make Jay feel instantly better. However, as he followed his grandfather down the creaky wooden stairs to the kitchen, they passed the ornate bows and quivers that the previous men in the Silver family had used to protect Thorn Haven. These beautifully crafted weapons should have given Jay comfort and renewed his faith in the great legacy of his family, of which he would soon become a part. Yet, instead he felt the unnerving pangs of doubt that had seemed to plague him of late whenever he thought of his training as a Ranger. It wasn’t that he was a poor student; on the contrary, his teachers had no end of praise for his potential. The problem was that he felt a great deal of pressure because of his potential and his family’s reputation.
‘Whatever’s the matter Jay?’ asked his mother as he entered the kitchen, a look of deep concern crossing her kind, rosy complexion. ‘You look like you have all the weight of the world on your shoulders!’
‘The boy worries far too much, Madeline’ his grandmother, Myrtle, chimed in from her rocking chair in the corner of the room. ‘You shouldn’t fret over things at your age Jay; the time for that is when you’re old and wrinkled like me, then it becomes a privilege.’ Jay smiled at this; his grandparents were good at making light of things he saw as being very serious.
‘Come, let’s all share a toast,’ said his mother as she handed round the freshly poured goblets of steaming blackberry wine. Jay cradled his goblet lovingly in his hands and allowed the intoxicating smell of spices and fruit to fill his head with Winterlong cheer. It was the only time of year that he was ever allowed to touch alcohol, which at the grand age of fourteen he considered rather unfair, but then rules were rules.
‘Where’s Philip?’ asked his grandmother before Jay had even had a chance to sip at the heavenly stuff. ‘Shouldn’t he be here to share in the first toast of Winterlong?’
‘It is a family tradition Madeline’ his grandfather spoke up in defence of this suggestion, as he began to puff away at his pipe. Madeline Silver turned from stirring a thick meaty stew on the stove to look questioningly at her in-laws. The hope on their faces was enough to convince her that her husband should indeed be summoned home to join in the festivities. She strode outside with a broad smile on her face at the thought of seeing Philip earlier than usual and, taking the large Summoning Horn from its holster outside the back door, she blew on it as hard as she could in the direction of the Forest behind their cottage.
Jay walked outside to stand beside his mother, his breath freezing in dreamy puffs in front of him in the chill of Winterlong Eve. He gazed out beyond the warming glow of the village into the dark and treacherous Forest that surrounded Thorn Haven like a heavily knotted garland. It wasn’t long before his father emerged from amongst the trees, striding swiftly towards them with a look of fierce pride etched onto his weary face.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 10 December, 2009.