Authors Spotlight: Lesley Wilson

Oric and The Alchemists Key (book 1) by Lesley Wilson



Orphaned boy, Oric, believes an inherited key will bring him great wealth. But he’s been warned of great danger should the key fall into wrong hands.

Evil moneylender Esica Figg determines to steal the key from Oric, even if it means killing the boy in the process.

Ichtheus the apothecary and kitchen maid Dian team up with Oric to help solve the mystery behind Deveril’s key. They experience many adventures, some hilarious, some life threatening. The trio is helped, but more often hindered by comical wolfhound Parzifal, and a donkey named Braccus.

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Author’s inspiration for Oric!

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As a young girl I read a book with a medieval slant and was immediately hooked on the genre. Handsome knights and their ladies, squires, villains and serfs fired my imagination. Historical sites in North Yorkshire, where I grew up, are varied and plentiful and, long before I began writing my own books, I explored towns and villages, ruined castles, abbeys, and museums. Memories from my early youth were topped up when I returned to the country of my birth from Australia in 2014. I spent three months indulging myself in medieval history. The following places provided me with the skeleton on which to construct my first book.

Kilton Castle in Cleveland is not particularly notable in the annals of history but, surrounded by bluebells as it was at the time of my visit, it proved heady stuff for a romantic teenage girl. The ruin sits on top of a substantial mound and is surrounded by deep, wide ditches – sure deterrents for the most tenacious of medieval marauders. I was able to pick out the outline of the Great Hall and dreamed of the banquets that must once have been held there. Small iron-barred windows and narrow slits built for the use of archers were visible in the Norman watch tower. On my first visit to Kilton Castle over 50 years ago, the ruin was open to anyone that wanted to climb the hill. I understand that a permit must now be obtained to visit the site.

Guisborough, mentioned in The Doomsday Book, provided me with a home for a several years and I enjoyed wandering about the ancient wynds and lanes that lead off the cobbled high street. The town’s original Augustinian priory, founded in 1119, burned down during the 13th century and was replaced with another building in Gothic style. Only the east end of the priory church now remains, and its iconic arch forms an impressive landmark for twenty-first century Guisborough. A twice-weekly market, originally attended by farmers and country folk who sold and bartered their animals and home-grown products, dates back many years, though I have been unable to detect exactly how far.  The hustle and bustle of this delightful market town was mana from heaven to a budding author, and I imagined the busy high street as it might have looked almost 1000 years before.

Helmsley Castle built in the early 1100s was originally constructed from timber. In 1186 Robert de Ros began converting the castle into stone. Between 1258 and 1285 the east tower was raised and a new hall and kitchen were added. This castle inspired me to write about a grand manor house and its new beginning after fire razed the building to the ground.

St Hilda, Abbess of Whitby Abbey (c680), whilst journeying home became thirsty. She stopped in a churchyard and prayed for water. Legend has it that a well immediately appeared beside her. The village was named Hinderwell in the Saint’s honour. The water is said to have beneficial healing properties and a clear spring is still visible today. For a short time I lived in an old farmhouse on the cliff top at Port Mulgrave, Hinderwell.  Walking home from a dance in the next village one dark night, I took a short cut through the St Hilda’s churchyard. What appeared to be a ghost frightened me half to death. I recall the adventure as if it were only yesterday, and used the experience to write about a fictitious, medieval church with a haunted graveyard.

The ancient town of Whitby, famous for Captain Cook and HM Bark Endeavour in which he sailed to Australia, is the home of a Benedictine abbey. The abbey, founded in 657 AD by an Anglo-Saxon King of Northumbria, disestablished during the Dissolution of Monasteries, sits on the clifftop overlooking the fishing port of Whitby and the North Sea. 199 steps lead from the harbour up to the abbey, but a road suitable for motor vehicles is available for the faint hearted. My husband’s family owned and ran a wood yard in the older part of the town and were amazed to discover a false wall at the back of the workshop. The partition was removed to reveal several carved-oak, ship’s figureheads dating back several hundred years. To this day not much has changed in that old part of town. I close my eyes and listen to the gulls haunting cries and I am transported back in time. Such intense feelings for the past are grist to my writer’s mill and I hope the passion I feel manifests in my writing.  My characters experience many adventures in a place very similar to Whitby, and the wild Yorkshire moors and windswept beaches provide more colour and drama for the period in which my books are set. When running a small maritime museum in Australia, I researched the history that surrounds Whitby and put in a display depicting the old town, its history and the part Cpt Cook played in claiming Australia for king and country. My dream is to share that wonderful past and bring to life the all fascinating places and people that fired my imagination.

The catalyst that finally inspired me to write about medieval times? Retirement, and a small figure of an apothecary I made on a wire armature. I named him Ichtheus and gave him an apprentice called Oric. Thus my medieval adventure began.



Lesley Wilson Author Bio.

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Lesley Wilson was born in North Yorkshire, UK and educated at St Martin’s preparatory School Grimsby, Lincolnshire, Mill Hill School, Middlesbrough, and Pickering’s Commercial College, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. She completed a course in Journalism with the London School of Writing, and has been an active member of a writers’ group in Australia.

In 1957, she met a young man on holiday in Italy. A whirlwind courtship followed before he joined the British Army. Fifteen months and hundreds of letters later, Lesley, aged seventeen, boarded a troop ship bound for Singapore, where she married the love of her life. She worked as a fashion model in Singapore for two years before returning to the UK. A three year posting to Germany with her husband followed.

Returned to the UK after her husband left the army, Lesly worked as Girl Friday for a well-known racing driver/motor dealer. She underwent training in London at Helena Rubinstein’s London Salon, and worked thereafter as a consultant for five years. Her other careers have included ownership of a sauna and health studio, and market research, which involved many miles of driving throughout N. Yorkshire in all kinds of weather.

In 1982 she migrated to Australia with her husband and small son. She ran a craft shop for several years in which she manufactured all the items for sale. During this time she was also a volunteer in a Maritime Museum. Hunting wrecks off the coast of North Queensland became an absorbing a hobby, and she helped to rescue an ancient, decommissioned lighthouse for the city in which she lives.

Today she is retired and enjoys spending time with her grandchildren. She is also a member of an active quilting group who involve themselves in charitable endeavors from time to time. She reads and reviews books for other authors but writing is her major passion. When she isn’t glued to the computer keyboard she loves to travel, entertain friends, and work in her large garden in N. Queensland.

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Oric and The Alchemist’s Key has a strong, well-told story line and language that is rich and evocative of the medieval period in which the story is set. This effectively draws the reader in and puts the book into the ‘unputdownable’ class

The main character, Oric, is an impish fourteen year old boy with an intriguing quest. He is helped and hindered by a cast of well-drawn characters, both engaging and beautifully nasty. The antics and predicaments of each individual are often hilarious and sometimes life threatening. Lesley “Wilson has the ability to make her readers laugh and cry.

The author has researched her subject thoroughly. Living conditions, clothing, herbs, habits and customs are accurately drawn and evoke colourful images of life in the period. Her descriptions of the wild life and natural environment transport the reader to be part of the moment.

Although the book is directed at the young adult market, reading the story afforded me (as a much older adult) considerable enjoyment. I believe the genre will appeal to anyone who enjoys a fast moving, medieval romp and guarantee a wide readership.

Anne K. Wheeler  Australia


I enjoyed being transported back to Medieval Britain in Book One of the Oric series. Oric and the Alchemist’s Key contains a memorable collection of characters, some good, and some evil. Each chapter is filled with a page turning mixture of action, mystery and humour. In my opinion Lesley Wilson’s writing will appeal to readers of all ages who enjoy historical fiction.

Evelyn Kontic  (Primary School Teacher. Retired) Canada


Have just got back from holiday (today) have read “Oric”  found it pleasantly readable considering the intended age range

Judy Cleasby .

I have finished reading “Oric”, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  While recognizing its intended readership is for a more youthful demographic, it was a pleasure to read a good story without many an author’s crutch of a raft of obscenities.  A mother would be happy to offer this book to her teenagers.    It is easy to become caught up in the medieval flow of the dialogue – halfway through the book, I began to think in similar terminology, while going about my day!   I can hardly wait for the release of “Oric and the Alchemist’s Key, Book 2” to follow the exploits of the young man, his loyal friends, and their dealings with “characters most unsavoury”.  Bravo to the author!

Val Atkinson Australia

Finished Oric a week ago. I thought it was a great book! And was really exiting. It’s now up there with one of my favourite books!
Daisy🐱 (aged 10)

By Wendy Jones – Published on

Format: Kindle Edition

I’ve been reading a few different books recently including YA. When I saw this one being recommended I thought I would give it a go. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can honestly say I am looking forward to the next one in the series. Oric is an apothecary’s apprentice and he is learning about the puzzle of a key he is given. This is the basic premise for a very enjoyable and well written story. Wilson is a skilled writer and uses words to good effect. The setting and the language are spot on one this gave the story a real sense of place and time. I really felt I was there. The book kept me reading way past any sensible bedtime as it had me engrossed. A rattling tale which pulls you in to the story and I would highly recommend. 5*

HASH(0x920c89e4) out of 5 stars Author Lesley Wilson has a real talent for interesting characters … 4 Mar. 2016


By LB – Published on

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Author Lesley Wilson has a real talent for interesting characters, moving plot lines, juggling multiple scenes, and providing period descriptions and language that support the story. The quick pace keeps you guessing about what will be happening on the next page and her treatment of all the characters provides a realistic flow of their actions. I look forward to the next book and the continuation of this story series. 4*

HASH(0x92206960) out of 5 stars Excellent, well-written yarn …….. 11 Mar. 2016

By Amazon Customer – Published on

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

An excellent, well-written medieval yarn. The author employs the language of the common serf to create the feeling of “being there”. Oric’s adventures are most believable and I can hardly wait until book 2 is available. Lesley Wilson’s readability is a joy. 4*

By Syd Norman – Published on

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Great read. Like the style of the Author 5*

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