Archive for the 'Readers' Category

Is writing a book just like telling a big lie?

The best question I’ve been asked by a young reader at a book signing this year:

“Is writing a book just like telling a big lie?”

I answered, “YES! Yes it is! It’s fantastic! And you completely get away with it, because you’ve ADMITTED you’re telling a big lie! Because that’s what ‘once upon a time’ means…”

“Making stuff up is lying,” I said cheerfully, “and I’m quite open and clear and delighted about that! So yes, writing a book is exactly like telling a big lie!”

And my answer made him happy. (Or, at least, made him go away looking thoughtful…)

But was my answer correct?

Do I really think that I’m lying when I’m writing a novel?

Because, in my heart, I believe I tell the truth in my books. I set up a system of magic, and I stick to it rigorously. I create characters, and I let them do what is right for them (which is often extremely inconvenient.) I sometimes have discussions (arguments!) with editors, when I’m fighting for what feels TRUE for that story. I might say “no, we can’t do that, because Yann would never do that, or Helen would never say that.” And my editor knows what I mean – even though these characters are just words on a page, they still have to act consistently, in a way that seems true to the reader.

So there is truth, in that long, extended, totally made up lie.First Aid for Fairies

For example, at the very end of First Aid for Fairies, one of my characters does something extremely brave, essentially sacrificing himself to save his friends from a monster. I set that scene up. I sent the monster after them, I locked the door to block their exit. I created the (entirely fictional!) situation. But I couldn’t have forced the character to make that choice, to do that dangerous and brave thing. That could only happen, and could only feel true within the huge lie of the novel, because he was a character whose loyalty and bravery we already believed in.

And in the novel I’m finishing just now, I have a huge decision to make, about a choice the main character is going to make at the very end of the story. But even though I’m the writer, I’m not going to make that choice. Molly is going to make that choice, because it has to be the choice that is true to her, true to the character that I admit I’ve made up, but who has become real over the course of the three books I’ve written about her.

So, yes, a novel is a lie, but I think it’s an honest lie.

It’s also a lie that a writer puts a lot of effort into making convincing, at exactly the same time as admitting it is a big lie… (Look at this shiny cover! Look at these chapter headings! This is a story! It’s not real!) But we still need our stories to feel real, to feel true.

That’s why I do so much location research, to make my books seem real. Even if I’m writing about magic spells and monsters, I need the book to have convincing settings and characters. I need the lie to feel true, so that you the reader care about the story, care about the characters, and keep reading to find out what happens next. Because while you are reading, it feels real. Even though you know it’s not real. It’s a big lie, and you know it’s a big lie, but you still enjoy it!

If it didn’t feel real, because you know that location and you know the cave doesn’t go that deep into the earth, or the castle door doesn’t look like that, then suddenly you’d be reminded that it was a big lie, which would knock you out of the story.

So that’s why even though a novel is a big lie, and even though I ADMIT it’s a big lie, I still make sure it’s a convincing big lie…

If stories are big lies, then they are big lies that we as writers make as true as we can, and big lies that we as readers seem to need…

Right, I’m off to write another chapter of a great big huge exciting lie… What a brilliant job!

Archive for the 'Readers' Category

What Lari’s Doing Next… (Which is actually what Lari did earlier this year and last year and the year before!)

One of the weirder things about being a writer is the long delay between writing a book and the publication of the book. I have completely finished writing the words for at least (counting on my fingers) five books that won’t be out for months or even years, because they are still being illustrated or edited or just sitting waiting patiently in a queue to be published.

That means that when I finally launch a book, and chat to readers about that book, it might be a couple of years since I finished writing it. (And yes, I do reread my books before publication, so I don’t sound like I’ve forgotten them!)

It also means that there can be long gaps between new books, which makes it look like I’ve stopped writing (I haven’t), or lots of books at once, which makes it look like I’m suddenly churning books out (I’m not! I am just writing sort of steadily, most of the time…)

My most recent book (The Tale of Tam Linn, still one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever held in my hands) came out last year, and I’ve had a bit of a lull at the start of this year, but it’s all about to heat up again. I have quite a few books appearing on shelves in the next year or so, and I’m really excited about all of them.

So, here’s what next. Ranging from a book so nearly ready that we’ve actually got a cover, to a novel that I’ve not even started yet…serpent

Serpents & Werewolves, Stories of Animal Shapeshifters from Around the World.
Another collection of my favourite myths and legends, this time about shapeshifters. There are serpents and werewolves, but also dragons and swans and frogs…
This book is very nearly ready (look, we have a cover already!) and it will be published on the 10th of September 2015.

I’m also working on another collection of stories in the same series (along with Girls Goddesses and Giants, and Winter’s Tales). Wild Horses, Wings and Warriors (still a provisional title) will be a collection of horse myths and legends. No pony club stories, but lots of thundering hooves and battles! And perhaps a centaur.

tam-linnBut there’s more! Next spring there will be another Kelpies Traditional Tale picture book, illustrated by the amazing Philip Longson, who also illustrated The Tale of Tam Linn. I am so happy to be working with Philip again, and I can’t wait to see what he does with the monster in this story…

And even more… VIKINGS this time. breaking
The lovely Cate James and I, who worked together on Breaking the Spell, have another Frances Lincoln collaboration on the way.The Dragon’s Hoard is a collection of Viking sagas. There will be dragons, battles, boats and swords. And a swan. Also a zombie. (I didn’t expect the zombie.) I’ve finished the words, and Cate is working hard on the pictures, so this should be out in autumn 2016.

And still more. I’m also writing novels. Probably three novels. Possibly a trilogy. Likely to be set in the North East of Scotland. But whatever happens with all those probablies and possiblies and likelies, there will definitely be magic and danger.

So, that’s what’s next. I’d better get back to writing the books for 2017 and 2018…

Archive for the 'Readers' Category

Why I don’t dress up for school Book Weeks

I spend a lot of time answering questions and encouraging story ideas from school children dressed as Thing 1 and Thing 2, various princesses, Mathilda, Frodo, centaurs (hello Yann), purple fairies (hello Lavender), Dorothy, Alice, the Cheshire Cat and an impressive number of Boys in Dresses.

Why? Because I’m often invited to schools during their Book Week and they often decide that the day I visit in the best day to Dress Up As Your Favourite Book Character. Which is lovely! I get a kick out of saying: great idea Gandalf, or fantastic question Hermione…

I don’t just speak to school halls filled with book characters on World Book Day or during Book Week Scotland, because lots of schools sensibly hold their book weeks at other times of the years. (It’s hard to get an author at short notice in early March and late November!)

When I’m standing up in front of pupils in fabulous costumes, I sometimes feel guilty that I haven’t dressed up myself. It’s not as if I don’t have favourite book characters…

But when I’m doing an author event, I am never just one person. I am me, obviously, chatting about how I write. But I’m also lots of other characters, when I’m reading from my own books, and when I’m telling the stories which inspire me.

For example, earlier this week, I visited an Edinburgh primary school filled with pupils (and teachers) in brilliant homemade outfits. I was just wearing my usual boring black and grey clothes, so I felt a bit underdressed! But in few hours I spent at the school, I was:

A mermaid
A girl drowning in a cave
A girl falling down a mountain
An untrustworthy magician
A Viking hero
A bossy king
A scared boy
A monster eating a bull
A shape-shifting demon (which involved brief moments as a caterpillar, a T Rex, a lion and a buffalo)
Several really annoyed gods
And a ten-armed Hindu heroine
(and that’s just what I can remember!)

Dressing up as Durga might be a bit distracting...

dressing up as Durga might be a bit distracting…

And I suspect it’s easier to be a lion and a mermaid and a god, if I’m wearing boring jeans and a cardi, rather than dressed as Gair from the Power of Three, or Annabeth from The Heroes of Olympus, or Janet from Tam Linn, or Francesca Greenwood’s amazing Durga from Girls Goddesses and Giants

So, that’s why I don’t dress up for all the Book Weeks I get invited to! But I’m always happy to see your costumes…

(And yes, if you’re wondering, getting to become a god, a heroine, a monster and a caterpillar even briefly as part of a normal working day, is one of the many reasons I love my job.)

Archive for the 'Readers' Category

Adventures can inspire poetry

I love to see stories written by school pupils after my adventure-writing workshops, but it’s also really special to see stories or poems or plays or pictures from kids who have read the books rather than met me at an author session. Because what they’ve created hasn’t been inspired by me bouncing up and down like a daft thing in a classroom, but by the words I write on the page.

So I was delighted to receive this poem, inspired by the Fabled Beast Chronicles, from Virginia Curtis, age 10, who lives in the Cheviots:

Wing beats slow and steady,
My selkie friend asks are you ready.
Centaur cantering along behind,
Minotaur shouts this world is mine!


Fairy flys up to me,
Says, look over there, it’s him we seek!
Fawns, urisks attack and scare us,
Dragon roars I’m not a bus!

We are flying away,
We are all shouting, Hip,hip,hooray!
Wolf-person howls in the distance,
Which monster will stricke next? Giant ants?

Isn’t that fantastic!

My favourite line in the poem is probably ‘Dragon roars I’m not a bus’ because to be honest, I did sometimes use Sapphire the dragon as a handy mode of transport, and also because I am REALLY missing Sapphire as I write my new adventure, because without her, it’s much harder to get my characters around!

But I also really love the line ‘Which monster will strike next? Giant ants?’ I’m not considering a giant ant as a baddie at the moment, but for as long as I’m writing there will always be another monster and an other adventure, so that’s a brilliant line to end on.

I love seeing art or words inspired by my books, because it allows me to discover how readers see the characters. I know who the characters are in my head, and that’s what I try to put down on paper, but when readers read the books, the characters and stories come to life in a different way inside their heads. Stories about the characters (or haikus, or floorplans for selkies’ houses, or wanted posters for the minotaur – I’ve seen them all) are a great way for me to discover how readers experience the characters.

That’s why I love reading poems from readers, and all the other wonderful things readers send me!

Thanks so much to Virginia for letting me put her fabulous poem on the blog. (Please keep writing!)


Archive for the 'Readers' Category

The only thing I hate about being an author…

I love being an author. The best bit is writing stories and adventures, but I love lots of the other bits of being an author too. I enjoy redrafting and I really love working with editors. I love meeting readers and talking about my books too.
But the one bit of being an author that I really don’t enjoy is …
getting my photo taken!
At family birthday parties and on family holidays, I avoid being in photos (usually by taking them) but at book launches and book events, and for newspaper articles and book festival programmes, I find myself grinning at a camera on a regular basis.
That grin can get painful after a while. I bet it never looks natural.
And my hair… I always forget to brush it
And my clothes… I only have a couple of tops which are tidy enough to wear in public so they appear in rotation in all the photos…
So, I really don’t like getting my photo taken.
But now I’ve found the best way to do it. Share the picture with a DRAGON! Because then hardly anyone will pay any attention to me.
Or even better, share the pictures with a DRAGON and lots of school pupils, because then noone will pay any attention to me!

And I made this discovery during our recent Dragon Tour. The Fabled Beast Chronicles have splendid new covers, and the clever marketing people at Floris came up with the idea of a dragon tour to publicise the new covers. So Nuria designed and created a dragon costume for her car, and we drove to various schools all over Scotland and the north of England, then dressed the car as Sapphire at each school.

We started at Pirniehall School in Edinburgh, where we learnt how to dress a dragon VERY fast.
Pirniehall pupils

The same day, we flew up to Forthview Primary, where every single child from P1 to P7 came out into the carpark to pat and stroke and feel Sapphire’s scales and teeth!

Then we went to the Strathearn campus in Crieff, and children from Crieff Primary, Muthill Primary and Braco Primary schools met Sapphire.

Then our longest journey – up to Arduthie Primary in Stonehaven, where it was so windy we had to anchor the corners of the flames down with children!
Pupils at Arduthie (2)

Then we took the Fabled Beast Chronicles to Cumbria, first to Hunter Hall School which has RED SQUIRRELS on its school tie!
Hunter Hall pupils (2)

Then to Armathwaite School, where the amazingly confident and creative children spent the whole of their morning break and most of lunchtime playing with Sapphire
Pupils at Armathwaite 6 (2)

We might take the dragon tour to a couple of other parts of Scotland, once Sapphire has had time to recover (and dry out) but in the meantime: thanks so much to every school we visited, you were all fantastic! (And a huge thanks from me to Nuria – well done for creating such a wonderful dragon, and for all your wonderful dragon navigation!)
Nuria with Sapphire

But to be honest, I still don’t like getting my photo taken…

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Fabled Beast Chronicles – the shock of the new

The First Aid for Fairies series has a new name and a new set of covers!

And I’m not sure how I feel about that. I really love the covers of the books that I’ve been reading and talking about for years, and I’ve got so used to them that it’s hard to imagine those stories and those characters wearing any other covers.

But even though I still do a double take every time I look at the new covers, I think I’m already falling in love with them too. (Anyway, the new covers aren’t available until September, so I have plenty of time to get used to them!)

So, here they are, complete with their new name: Fabled Beasts Chronicles.


The incredible artwork is by Manuel Sumberac, and the covers were designed by the very talented Leah McDowell. And they are certainly very glossy, very professional and absolutely fantastic.

The inside pages of the novels are also newly snazzy, with fancy chapter headings:

This means that First Aid For Fairies And Other Fabled Beasts has now had THREE covers in its seven year history. Here they are:


I’m going to be honest, and say that I never really liked the original cover for First Aid For Fairies And Other Fabled Beasts. I was sort of fond of it, because it was the cover of the very first book I ever had published. But I never thought it was right for the story. It seemed too pink and fluffy and girly and young for the cover of a book with minotaurs and snakes and battles in the dark of the night…

However I really did love the silhouettes and colours of the next set of covers. Also, these are the covers that most readers know, because from Wolf Notes onwards these covers appeared with each new book in the series.

But Floris Books wanted to bring all the books together with a series title because, after all, the First Aid For Fairies And Other Fabled Beasts series is quite long and unwieldy.

So, they came up with these new covers.

I’m going to admit I don’t even know who some of the characters ARE in the covers. Though to be fair, that was true of the first set too. Who is the bloke in the cloak on the rock on the Wolf Notes cover? Is he a one of the Celtic heroes? I’ve never been sure…

WolfNotescover (1)

So, on the newest First Aid cover, which of the girls is Helen, which is Rona?
fabled beast chronicles First Aid

I don’t know. But that’s ok. The covers are there to draw readers in, to give them a flavour of the adventure and magic inside, to attract their attention and to intrigue them enough to pick the books up and open them. And I think these covers do that job brilliantly.

My favourite is the Wolves Notes cover, with that incredible sword standoff between the wolves and Lee and Helen. (At least, I think it’s Lee and Helen. They’ve got excellent hair, whoever they are…)

fabled beast chronicles Wolf Notes

Which is your favourite new cover, and how do you think they compare to the previous covers? And do you associate other favourite books with specific covers, and get a shock when the publishers decide to update them?

Please let me know!


Archive for the 'Readers' Category

Patron of Reading at Forthview Primary

I am delighted to announce that I am now the Patron of Reading at Forthview Primary in Edinburgh!

In three very packed events last week, I chatted about books and stories with EVERY SINGLE CLASS in the school (more than 400 kids in one day) and I was really impressed by their passion and their imaginations and their brilliant questions.

I was also extremely impressed that parents turned up to each session and sat at the back of the hall (they got chairs, the pupils sat on the floor…) watching as their kids discussed books and reading, and came up with story ideas.

That was particularly important because what the school really want to achieve is a Reading Community, where everyone – pupils, teachers and families – share their enjoyment of books and reading for pleasure.

I am a huge fan of reading for pleasure (I do it myself as often as I can!) but I’m also a huge fan of writing for pleasure, making stuff up for pleasure, and playing with stories for FUN!

So when I visited, the nursery and P1s read The Magic Word and brought a toy pony to life with some magic ingredients and a bit of stirring.

The P2s and P3s read Never Trust a Tiger and helped a tricksy little rabbit escape several times from a hungry cobra.

And the P4s to P7s read a bit of Storm Singing from the Fabled Beasts series, and worked out lots of different and dramatic ways to rescue someone from a cliff edge.

I also met some of the teachers, some of the parents, and some of the council and library staff who will be working wit the reading community. And I heard about lots of the brilliant ideas the school are coming up with, like a reading group for dads.

And I want to go back! I want to go back and chat to smaller groups about what they love reading, what they love writing and possibly give them sneak previews of what I’m writing too. And that’s the great thing about being Patron of Reading – I will go back!

It’s amazing to be invited to be part of such an ambitious project, and I’m really looking forward to it!

Thanks Forthview Primary, and hope to see you again soon! (Keep reading! And keep away from cobras and cliff edges…)

Here are some pictures of the launch:

photo 3 (2)
I think this was when I asked who loved stories! (Or it might have been when I asked for ideas about how to escape from a cobra. They’re resourceful kids in Forthview…)

photo 1 (2)
This is inspirational headteacher Mrs Littlewood talking about how much she loves reading.

photo 5

This is me grinning like a loon in front of a table of books.

image (4)

And finally, a slightly odd picture of me either doing a wee dance, or pretending to kick a tree trunk into a pit to save a tiger.




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Mind Blind – ticking none of the usual boxes

So, what is a Lari Don book then? 

I’ve written 21 books, 6 of them novels, so it’s probably fair to claim that I don’t write just one kind of book. But up until now, there have been a few recognisable threads running through most of my books – if it had magic and myth and fabled beasts and Scottish landscapes, then it might be a Lari Don book.

But now I’ve written something totally different to anything I’ve ever written before. Because Mind Blind, my first teen thriller, is published this week.

Mind Blind is for older readers. I’ve written picture books (about bottoms and wolves), I’ve written short chapter books (about tigers and wolves), I’ve written adventure books (about dragons and wolves), I’ve written collections of legends (about heroines and wolves). The nearest I’ve come in age so far is novellas for reluctant readers (no wolves, yet).

But I’ve not written a full length novel for older readers before and it was a very different book to write. I could do a lot of things I’ve never done before. Swear. Injure people. Kill people. Make texts and smart phones an important part of the plot. Use public transport rather than dragons.

And Mind Blind is about a boy.  A teenage boy. I’ve written as a boy before – a male phoenix and a blue loon in Maze Running – but only for a couple of chapters.  Becoming a teenage boy for months on end was an interesting experience.

Also Mind Blind is written in the first person, so we are inside Ciaran’s head, seeing the world through his eyes, all the time.  (Except when we’re inside Lucy’s head. This was meant to be a book about Ciaran, but Lucy became so important to the story, that almost half the novel is from her point of view… )

Ciaran Bain is not a goodie either, unlike Helen or Pearl in my other novels. He’s a criminal, he does a lot of dodgy and illegal and even cruel things. And yet I am asking the reader to care about him and what happens to him – which was a bit of a challenge!

So.  Mind Blind has no magic, it has lots of crime, and it has no lovely Scottish landscapes.  No mountains or forests or islands or caves or castles. Mind Blind happens on rooftops and at bus stations and in docklands.  It’s not even set completely in Scotland!  It starts in London, spends a fair amount of time on a bus (not a fun journey…) then finally ends up in Edinburgh and Leith for the last third of the book.

Mind Blind doesn’t tick any of my usual boxes. That is exactly why I wanted to write it. And exactly why I want to hear what you think of it!

(Though, as I write this, I realise there is one book which was almost the precursor to Mind Blind, in a tangential way: Drawing a Veil – a novella about a girl who decides to wear the hijab and how her best friend and classmates react. When I wrote it, I did keep thinking – gosh this is tough, solving plot problems without magic! The story also ends on a bridge in an industrial area, just like Mind Blind. In fact, both endings were inspired by the same bridge in Leith, but in both books the bridge has changed slightly to fit the plot. So anyone who’s read Drawing a Veil might have thought that I was heading for teen thriller territory. I didn’t realise it myself when I was writing about Amina though!)

I’m always keen to know what readers think about my books. Feedback is very important to writers, and especially so with Mind Blind – because it’s like my very first book all over again!

So, if it sounds like your sort of book, please go and read Mind Blind (paperback, ebook, from a shop, from the world-encirling amazon or even FOR FREE from your local library) and let me know what you think!

Many Mind Blinds in a box

Many Mind Blinds in a box

And here is Mind Blind IN A BOX even if it doesn’t tick the usual boxes!

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Why read a manuscript when you can no longer change it?

Today, I’m going to sit down and read Mind Blind, my new teen thriller. Which isn’t that unusual. I’ve been reading, rereading, redrafting and tweaking Mind Blind constantly over the last few months.
But today, I can’t change anything. Mind Blind has already gone to the printers. It’s going to be available in bookshops on the 20th of March. Next month! Today I’m going to be reading the manuscript without the power to change anything, which will be a bit strange and frustrating.
So why am I reading it?
Because this time I’m not looking for things I can fix or improve, I’m looking for quotes and readings.
My relationship with Mind Blind is changing. For a long time I was writing the book: getting to know the characters, following new ideas, finding out what happens next. Then for months (most of last year!) I was redrafting and editing: working out the best way to tell the story. But now, I’m getting ready to promote the book: telling people about it, getting readers interested in it.
To do that, I need to find readings and quotes.
It’s an odd time. It feels like the book isn’t really mine any more. I’m a writer, but I can’t WRITE this book any more. I can’t come up with new ideas, I can’t change any words, or cut out any flabby bits. All I can do is help the book get out there and find readers. Because once a book stops being mine, when I can’t write it any more, it becomes the readers’ book instead.
So today, I’ll be rereading Mind Blind, looking for:
Sections to read during author events (in classrooms, in bookshops, in libraries, at book festivals etc)
Short quotes to give a flavour of the book
Sections to film on location
All of these readings need to be different – different lengths, focussed on different bits of the story – but they all need to have similarities too. All the readings must be exciting and self-contained, but they shouldn’t give away too much about the plot. They need to introduce the characters and their problems, but not give away how those problems are solved. They need to be short and punchy, and not need much explanation.
None of that is easy to find! So it means reading the book in a different way, almost with different eyes.
Also for the first time, I’ll be filming sections of Mind Blind in both London and Edinburgh, where the story is set, and that’s going to make things even more complicated. Normally I don’t choose readings from near the end of a book, but we’re planning to film in several locations in Leith which only appear in the final couple of fights and chases, so it’s going to be difficult to find readings which don’t contain spoilers!
But there is one other thing I will be looking for today, and it’s the most exciting thing of all. While I’m reading through Mind Blind, I might glimpse a few wee hints of story and characters and ideas that might, just might, point me in the direction of a sequel. And that would give me a whole new relationship, as a writer, with these characters.
So, here I go…
“I killed a girl today, just after the school bell…”

the first page of Mind Blind

the first page of Mind Blind

Archive for the 'Readers' Category

In which I wonder what kind of writer I am…

I think I’m a novelist, who writes adventure books like First Aid for Fairies, Rocking Horse War and Maze Running.
I know I write a few other books once in a wee while, like the occasional picture book when I need a break from ambushes, and sometimes I gather together collections of my favourite myths and legends.
But mainly, I’m a novelist. Yes?
Well, maybe not.
I won an award last week, when Orange Juice Peas (written by me, illustrated by Lizzie Wells) won the Dundee Picture Book Award, which is voted for by local P1s and by the P6s who read the books to them. The other shortlisted authors were proper picture book writers, all of whom travelled up from the south of England to be in Dundee. It was a real award ceremony, for real picture books.
And my book won.
Just like The Big Bottom Hunt won the Hawick Picture Book Award a couple of years ago…
So perhaps I’m a proper picture book writer as well.
Perhaps I need to take being a picture book writer just as seriously as I take being a novelist (though I’ll still spend at least year on each novel and a few weeks on each picture book – the number of words just work that way!)
But of course, I won’t take being a picture book writer TOO seriously – picture books work better when they aren’t serious at all!
And it’s not just picture books which are muscling in on my novels. I have six books coming out this year. One of those six is a picture book (it’s called The Magic Word and I’m so pleased with Claire Keay’s lovely pictures, I think it’s going to be … magic!) and five are retellings of traditional tales. I have two retellings of animal tales coming out in short chapter books (Masha And The Bear and The Hungry Wolf, both illustrated by the wonderful Melanie Williamson, who also did Never Trust a Tiger and The Tortoise’s Gift) and three collections of myths and legends: a collection of heroine tales, a collection of Scottish stories and a collection of winter tales.
So am I now a reteller of old tales, as well as a novelist and a picture book writer?
Yes I am, and that’s fine too – because I love these stories, which are one of the main inspirations for the fiction I write, and it’s wonderful to be able to share them.
But don’t worry, I haven’t become any of these other kinds of writers INSTEAD of being a writer of adventures. I’ve just finished one novel and started another, and the oddities of publishing timetables means both novels might be published next year.
But in the meantime, I will enjoy the fact that I have the freedom and opportunity to write all sorts of books, and to be passionately proud of every single one of them.
And here, if you want to see just how seriously I take picture books, is me making a real mess of my kitchen while reading Orange Juice Peas: