Archive for September, 2011

Discovering new bits of Scotland!

I’ve just picked up a bulging yellow folder filled with entries for the Set the Scene competition (where we asked readers to suggest a Scottish location for the fourth and final Fabled Beast book) from my publishers. And it looks SO exciting. I’m flicking through it and I see maps and photos and drawings and myths and legends and first lines of suggested stories and monsters and cliffs and islands and castles and lochs and they all look WONDERFUL! Thank you all so much for sending such amazing entries!

The competition is now closed (sorry!) and the team at Floris who will be helping me pick the winner need a bit of time to read through the large number of entries, so we think it will be just over a month before we announce the winner. So please be patient!

I’m off now, to enjoy discovering lots of new bits of Scotland!

Archive for September, 2011

What time of year is it anyway?

That’s not a comment on any weird weather, more a comment on my weird state of mind as a writer.
All the First Aid for Fairies books are set at particularly ‘magical’ times of year: midwinter, midsummer, autumn equinox and spring equinox. But I never seem to WRITE them at the appropriate time of year.
It’s Autumn Equinox time (half way between midsummer and midwinter, which is when Storm Singing is set), and yet I’m writing First Aid Four, which is meant to be set at the Spring Equinox.
This poses a few basic research problems, like when I go on location I have to imagine what the landscape will look like with more flowers, or fewer leaves, or different heights of grass.
But it also makes me very confused. I’ve spent a lot of this week living on the 20th of March, because counting back, that’s when the fabled beasts’ quest will have to start in order to end on the Spring Equinox. Which means when I come out of the house after writing for a day and the leaves are turning brown, I get a bit of a shock. In my head, it’s springtime; but outside my head, it’s autumn. And I was trying to explain something about flowers to one of my daughters when we were out for a walk, and I realised that I was talking complete nonsense, because I was talking about spring, and shoots, and daffodils. In September.
So, living in stories can make you a bit confused. But it also means I’m smelling flowers when everyone else is shivering in autumn gales!

Archive for September, 2011

Anyone got a favourite Roman myth?

I’ve promised to tell a Roman myth next week to a group of school kids, but I don’t know any Roman myths which I love enough to share!

I always tell myths in my author sessions, because I use mythological beasts in my adventure books, and this class particularly requested a Roman myth to link with their project on the Romans. So I said yes, no problem, even though most of the myths I love are Greek or Viking or Sumerian. I didn’t think it was a rash promise, because I have a tatty old illustrated hardback book called “Roman Mythology.”

Having started twittering yesterday, I thought I’d get back to paper and ink basics this morning, so I opened Roman Mythology, and found a lot of history, a fair amount of archaeology, dozens of pictures of statues and a few oblique mentions of myths, but no actual stories. Nothing with a beginning, a middle and an end. No monsters defeated, no heroes or heroines created.

Leaving me with only a few Roman possibilities: the wolf suckling the twins (which doesn’t take that long to tell), Horatio on the bridge (which glorifies very stupid bravery) and the loss of the Ninth Legion in the mists of Scotland (which is apparently not true any more, even though it was true when I was wee). So have you got any better ones? Any genuinely exciting and surprising Roman myths?

The Romans did nick most of their gods, goddesses and myths from the people they conquered. So getting ideas from everyone out there seems rather appropriate. And I won’t even have to invade …

Archive for September, 2011

Blogging is not enough

Nope. Blogging is not enough apparently.

I was at a brilliant Society of Authors in Scotland conference yesterday in Edinburgh, all about how writers need to embrace e-books, and build an online platform for themselves. It was quite terrifying actually, with branding wheels, and landing pages, and hash tags, and publishers looking nervous, and some writers looking empowered and other writers (me mostly) looking a bit inadequate.

So. Blogging once in a wee while is not enough. I need to twitter. I need to join online forums. I need to be on Linkedin. (Actually, I am on Linkedin, but I have no idea how to work it or what to do with it, so I need to practise being me online.)

And I need to put multimedia stuff up on this blog. The occasional photo is not enough. I should be doing audio and video and links. (So, that’s a whole new set of skills I have to learn…)

The only problem is, I WANT TO WRITE A BOOK! I went to the first likely location for First Aid Four last weekend. I have a whole shelf of research books now, and lots of bits of coloured paper sticking out of the most exciting pages. I have more baddies than I can cope with (so I’ll be needing a lot of help from Yann this time round). So I really can’t be bothered creating an online me, when I’d rather be creating cliffhangers.

But, apparently, to be a writer these days, you also have to spend time “being a writer.” If you don’t get out there and shout about your books, no-one will read them. And then there would be no point in writing them.

So – would you like to follow me on Twitter, or would you prefer to like me on Facebook? Do you have the foggiest idea what Linkedin is for? Are there any good online forums about kids’ books or fantasy or myths and legends you think I’d enjoy? Or would you rather I just got on with writing…? Do let me know!

Archive for September, 2011

Down with the tents, and up with the peas.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is over! Aw… Now I can get back to writing! Yeah!

And I’m off to a flying start. I’ve just seen the rough pictures for my next book! It’s a picture book called Orange Juice Peas, it’s being illustrated by a French artist and the pictures look utterly fantastic! Really colourful, really funny, and full of expression on the kids’ faces. All of which is great. Because the more there is in the pictures, the more I can cut out of the words!

That’s the wonderful thing about picture books. I put the story in words, so that everyone can get started. Then the artist then tells the story in pictures, probably putting in much more than I had in the words (like the crab in the Big Bottom Hunt – that was never my idea!) and once I can see what the artist is doing, I can take some of the words back out again! (Well, me and my wonderful editor and fabulous designer, who are the ones who put it all together, and in this case count all the peas to make sure they add up at the end of the book. Why? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see…)

So! A new picture book! With a new artist! And lots of peas. What a great start to September.

Now I’d better go and take a few words out of the next picture book, and put lots more words into the next novel.