A NOVEL inspired by an incident where two builders came to blows – arguing over whether an elf was watching them from a tree – has attracted international interest.

Ian Johnson’s debut novel, The Witcher Keys, is attracting the attention of global audiences, with its story based on the folklore of the North York Moors.

The story was originally intended for young adults and tells of a teenager’s attempts to solve the mystery of her mother’s death and a kidnap attempt which left her baby sister in a coma.

Her journey brings her into contact with the often dark world of hobgoblins, elves, spriggans and other entities on the North York Moors.

Mr Johnson, a civil engineer from Malton, began to take an interest in otherworldly entities on building projects on the North York Moors, where he has worked for the past 14 years.

One day, the father-of-three says he witnessed a fight between two builders on a project he was working on. One wouldn’t believe the other’s claim that an elf was watching them from a nearby tree.

Then, nine years ago, a curious incident on a site prompted him to begin researching the subject in earnest. He had been working on a large home in a remote location on the moors which became progressively uninhabitable. People reported nausea, headaches and low moods when inside the property and there was a 60-volt static charge on the roof. Mr Johnson said that, after tests using sensitive monitoring equipment detected nothing abnormal, he was told by experts in geopathic stress that three ley lines crossed at a single point, directly below the property. “This was a rare occurrence in itself, but they also uncovered an even more curious and disturbing problem,” he said.

He was told a horde of small “goblin or imp-like creatures” in trees close by were furious that a spring supplying a drinking trough at their main meeting place had been diverted and were making their displeasure known.“I would have been sceptical before then if someone had said ‘There’s goblins over there watching me’,” said Mr Johnson. “But now I have a totally different viewpoint.”

Interest in the book, published in October last year, has grown rapidly. The hardback version has sold out and the paperback edition is being published ahead of schedule. The publisher, Book Guild, is now organising talks with publishing houses in Australia and America.