Archive for June, 2011

Can you set the scene for Helen’s last adventure?

I’ve launched Storm Singing!  The only book I’ve written (so far) which contains any boats is now well and truly launched into the big wide world.

My publishers held a launch party last night, and we invited some book groups and school pupils, who got to nibble some crisps, and listen to me read a little bit of the book, and then stand in a VERY LONG LINE to get books signed.  They also heard me announce a very exciting competition which my publishers are running to celebrate the launch of Storm Singing – a competition called Set the Scene, which is basically me asking for a bit of help with the next book.

I get so much inspiration from the feedback readers give me, that we thought it was worth tapping into that for the fourth and final book in the First Aid series.

And to be honest, I’ve started to run out of the bits of Scotland which I know, to use as locations for the next book.  Helen’s been to Orkney and Skye on dragon back, she’s been in the tunnels under Edinburgh with a phoenix, and now she’s rowed all round the cliffs and caves of Sutherland with a centaur (which isn’t easy!) so now I’m wondering what magical and marvellous bits of Scotland I can set the next adventure in.  So that’s what the competition is about – to suggest a location for the next book.

I announced this competition to the 50 or so kids at the launch last night, and they immediately started thinking of ideas (some of them even put their hands up right away!) and by the time they’d all queued up to get their books signed, they all wanted to tell me their ideas, so not only did I get to sign lots of the books (how do you spell your name?, what would you like me to write in it?) but I also got to hear lots of ideas for the next book and where it should be set!  But the kids who came to the launch won’t have any more chance than you to win – we’ll wait till all the entries are in, then we’ll pick the best place for a chase, the best site for a fight.  To enter, check out Floris’s website.

So, now that I’ve launched Storm Singing, I’d better start writing the next one.  I still don’t have a title for it (the folder on my computer is called Fourth Aid!) nor of course, do I yet know exactly where it will be set.  But I do have a baddie, and I do have a problem, and that is enough to be going on with for now…

Archive for June, 2011

There’s a Storm Coming…

But don’t worry!  You won’t need wellies or a rain coat. I’ve already got cold and wet and windblown on your behalf researching my next book, Storm Singing, and it’s very nearly here!

storm singing cover

storm singing cover

And isn’t the cover fabulous!

I’ve actually held my own first copy of Strom Singing. In fact I’ve even read out loud from it, to some classes in Edinburgh and some classes in North Ayrshire, just to see how it sounds and how they reacted.  And luckily for me, they all wanted me to read on… But of course I didn’t, because my publisher was there, giving me a hard stare until I said:  If you want to know what happens next, you’ll have to read the book!  (available in all good bookshops and libraries etc…)

And now, this is the nerve-wracking bit for me, waiting for the actual publication date next week.  Because now I’m waiting to see what you all think of it – waiting til someone reads Storm Singing at top speed, then writes to me or emails me or posts something on my blog or chats to me in a bookshop and TELLS ME WHAT THEY THINK OF IT!

I don’t think it’s really a book until other people have read it.  Otherwise I could just mutter stories to myself in my study, and be happy with that. I write books to share them with other people, so waiting to see what you think of what I ask my characters to do, and how they react, is really important!  And in Storm Singing, I think I may have asked them, especially Helen, Rona and Yann, to do more difficult things than anything I’ve asked of them before…

So, once you’ve got your own Storm, let me know what you think!

Archive for June, 2011

Magical thinking?

Every time I read How to Make a Heron Happy out loud, I feel slightly guilty. Because there’s a line, near the end, about the heron flying away if it isn’t happy in the park.  And in between me writing that line, and the book being published, the heron in my local park DID fly away. It wasn’t happy, I assume, because all the ice last winter made it impossible to hunt. But it never came back.  And I felt slightly responsible, or at least, slightly embarrassed that here was a book about my favourite bird, set in my favourite park, and the bird was no longer there.  Was it my fault?  Was it some dreadful coincidence, or actually a consequence of my book?  That’s called magical thinking, apparently, according to a psychiatrist of my acquaintance – thinking that your actions could cause or affect something totally unconnected.  I do know that the heron didn’t fly away because I wrote a book, that it wasn’t divine punishment for hubris, or fate’s practical joke.  It flew away because we had a very bad winter.  I also know that when I used to produce radio programmes for the BBC, and once in a while some terrible social or health issue that I had researched then subsequently happened to me, or someone I knew, it wasn’t actually connected.  Because that’s magical thinking.  And therefore it must be a total coincidence that this week, when I’ve just done my last event to promote the Heron book, and I am about to move on to the very first event to promote Storm Signing, THIS VERY WEEK, I saw five herons in the park.  Five.  I ran round an extra lap just to count them again to be sure.  Magical thinking?  I suppose that if you write about selkies, centaurs and dragons, you do need to think magically!  However, just to prove I am not superstitious, I offer as evidence the fact that I’m entirely delighted to be meeting pupils from how many different primary schools in North Ayrshire this week, on the Storm Singing tour?  Thirteen.