Archive for August, 2011

Goodbye Storm, hello FA4

Ok. Now I’m getting serious about First Aid Four (FA4 to its friends).

After spending all summer growing inside my head, and occasionally leaping out into scribbles in notebooks, the final First Aid novel is about to start becoming sentences, paragraphs and chapters.

And not only does the new adventure have a folder in my computer (to be honest, I created that folder 30 minutes after sending the final edit of the third book to my editor – I don’t like hanging about), it also has a shelf in my study.

To make room, I’ve had to clear out the Storm Singing shelf. I’m not sure why FA3 still had a shelf – I finished writing it months ago, and I couldn’t make any changes once it was printed. But I just hadn’t got round to clearing all the marked up manuscripts (most to be recycled, a few key ones to be kept to remind me how a book changes) and the maps, the notebooks, the pictures, the news cuttings and the piles of books. Some of the books will be useful for FA4 (like the very old fashioned veterinary text book!) The books of sea legends will move to my folklore and myth bookcase. And the scientific books about seals and killer whales will go out on the shelf in the hall where we keep all our reference books for reading when we’re queuing for the loo. But what about the kayaking and scuba-diving books? I bought them to help me write the scenes on and under the water. But I’ve never been kayaking and scuba diving, and I don’t really have time to start. However I hate getting rid of books, especially books which have inspired me. So perhaps they will just find another shelf, a shelf for books I might need again in a few years time (in case Rona has an adventure on her own, and needs me to write it for her…)

And I’ve now got a collection of books to inspire FA4. It’s not a new collection, I’ve been hunting them down and reading them all summer. But I just had them lying around, tripping up visitors, getting in the way of sleeping cats, and weighing down rucksacks when we were on holiday. Now they are all gathered together on one shelf, looking like a proper springboard for a book. But I’m not going to tell you what they are! They are about certain kinds of legends, and certain parts of Scotland, but if I told you their titles, you would guess too much about Helen’s adventure.

So. There is a shelf. It is filled with many books. But there is still plenty of space for the chapters of the book that the shelf is there to help me write!

If you really want to know more about FA4, you could come along to my Edinburgh Book Festival event on Saturday, ask me difficult questions and see if you can trick me into giving a few hints away!

(I’m at the Corner Theatre in Charlotte Square, at 10.30 am, Saturday 27th August, and you can get tickets from

Archive for August, 2011

Heroines in Charlotte Square

I’ve just started to think about what I’m going to do in my Edinburgh Book Festival event next Saturday morning. The first thing I do is read the programme, so that I can plan to talk about what the audience hoped they were coming to hear.

And this time, apparently, I am going to…

… tell you about her award-winning Fabled Beasts series set in Scotland but featuring monsters and heroes from Greek and Celtic myths. She’ll share her favourite legends and tell all about the heroes who face their fears and destroy the monsters.

So when you’re reading that and thinking, “that’s sounds fun, let’s go and hear Lari do that,” I’m reading it and thinking, “that’s sounds fun, how on earth am I going to do that…?”

And this is what I’m thinking:

Alright. All three books in the series. In 55 minutes. I’ll have to find short readings…

Celtic and Greek myths? Ok, I am inspired by Celtic and Greek myths (hard to deny that with a centaur and a minotaur in First Aid for Fairies, and Tir nan Og in Wolf Notes) but I also love Viking myths, and Storm Singing was mostly influenced by Orcadian legends and an Inuit myth, but I’m happy to chat about Celtic and Greek.

Then heroes destroying monsters. Great. I love destroying monsters. No. Hold on. Wait a minute. Heroes? HEROES? What about heroines? What about Helen and Rona and Lavender and Pearl and Emmie and all the GIRLS I write about defeating baddies?

Ok. NOW I’m inspired. Now I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to find lots of heroines from Greek and Celtic myth (and beyond), and tell you how they inspire me. And if they’re new to me, if they haven’t inspired me already, then their stories can inspire the next First Aid book. Because I’m not sure how to defeat that final baddie, and perhaps I need help from a few more heroines…

So, I’m off to start searching for legendary and mythical heroines. If you have any favourites, do let me know!

(And if you want to come along and hear about heroines and heroes defeating monsters, I’m at the Edinburgh Book Festival on Saturday 27th August, at 10.30 am, and you can get tickets at

Archive for August, 2011

Crowds of readers in caves!

The North West corner of Sutherland is the least populated part of Western Europe, which makes it a great place for fabled beasts to explore undetected, but a pretty risky place to do book events, because I could end up just reading to myself. So I was very impressed at how many people, locals and visitors, turned up to hear about Storm Singing. I did author events in Smoo Cave (and it was just as much fun telling a Viking legend in the cave as I’d hoped, and even more fun reading the scene set in the cave…) and in a community centre in Bettyhill, and in both cases 19 kids turned up and they all brought adults with them too. (19 is very exact, but we counted. I could say about 20, but it would sound like I was guessing, and I’m not!)

So, I was pretty impressed that for a place with a tiny and very scattered population, I managed to chat to 38 readers in a couple of days, about mermaids, sea monsters, cliff hangers and setting scenes in caves.

In between the events I was meant to be on holiday, so I did spend a bit of time having fun on beaches too, slithering on wet rocks, teetering on loose stones, slipping on seaweed, and being constantly reminded of Yann falling in rock pools on the first page of Storm Singing. So I kept apologising to him for putting him in such dangerous and undignified positions. And then I planned even more dangerous situations for him for the next book (which I was making long, scribbly, slightly damp notes about most of the holiday too!)

So now I’m back home, I’m getting ready for the Edinburgh Book Festival (I’m doing an event on the last Saturday, 27th August, so I have plenty of time to enjoy seeing other authors first!) but I’m also getting seriously into planning research trips and plot complications for First Aid Four. (It has no title yet, but plenty of baddies…)

(I’ll put a photo of the event in the cave up as soon as I’ve unpacked the camera!)