Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Portland Sea Dragon Book Launch

The Portland Sea Dragon Book Launch was held at Whitestones Cafe in Easton at 2pm on Sunday 21 March. There has been a lot of interest in the book over the last few weeks but we were unprepared for the number of people who came along! Thank you to everyone who came and coped with the crowds! Thanks to Whitestones too!

Children were dressed as dragons, smugglers, mermaids, I think there was a lion in there somewhere. And a pirate. Domini Deane, the artist and illustrator for the book, had dressed up as a Portland Princess!! People had travelled from as far afield as Birmingham and Chandlers Ford. There were some great drawings and pieces of writing completed by the children.

Strange that (hopefully) people are now reading the book. For 3 years I have been the only person who has known these character and now quite a few others are meeting them too.... Strange... I can't smile at border collies any more and think "Ha! That's just like Gregor!"... Well, I will anyway....

Monday, 15 March 2010


I have always been fascinated by spirals and am researching them for The Enchantment of the Black Dog, Book two in the series of The Portland Chronicles. The image keeps finding its way into the story. There is a conch shell with spirals, stars and galaxies spiralling, and time itself which always seems to loop back on itself in a spiral.

I really enjoy the 'Solar System' series with Prof Brian Cox - he's been looking at how the same spiral force which holds together the universe also creates storms like tornadoes, and the whirl when water flows down the plughole... V interesting...

Saturday, 13 March 2010

A Mermaid Attacks

We visited Damers School in Dorchester this week. By we, I mean, me, the twins, a dragon and a mermaid with no teeth. We had an hour divided into four sessions with the theme 'good guys, bad guys' and I read the parts of The Portland Sea Dragon that describe the 'good' dragon and the 'bad' mermaid. In fact, I thought that the children would assume it was to be the other way round, but they guessed accurately as mermaids have a history of being dangerous creatures. The story of the Sirens was mentioned a few times. During the readings, I was attacked by the puppet mermaid, and the dragon simulated flying. I still have a rash where the mermaid bit me. However this was essential to the story.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Imaginary Friends and Portland Frost

It's one of those perfect Portland days. The sky is so blue it hurts your eyes but the wind is so cold! When the wind cuts across Portland from the north-east it makes everything look really sharp, like it's been outlined in black felt tip pen. Maybe Spring will come one day. There was still frost on the garden this morning.

Had an interview today with Jane Norman from Blackmore Vale Magazine. She took a couple of photos outside by the apple trees. I enjoyed talking to Jane and she has a gentle style of interviewing that immediately puts you at ease. She asked some perceptive questions about why I started writing in the first place, and why I chose to write for children. Jane reflected that my main character Isabel is probably partly me, which I hadn't considered before, and I think she's right. I spent my childhood looking for owls (saw a couple) and I suppose a dragons is just one step further along that road. I had some difficulties describing Isabel for Domini to illustrate, as in the book I looked at the world through her eyes . Isabel was also inspired by my daughter Jasmine's best friend. Jane is going to interview the artist and illustrator Domini Deane in Bournemouth tomorrow about her artwork for the book. I am looking forward to seeing Domini again at the launch.

It still seems strange that all my imaginary friends, Mrs Groves and Mrs Greychurch, Gregor and Isabel, are about to become other people's friends too! How odd. I hope other people like Gregor as much as I do.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Visit to Radipole

I really enjoyed my first visit to a school yesterday. I went to talk to Radipole School's Year 4 class and dragons, myths and legends and they all made me very welcome. The children asked some very good questions about writing the book, research and even editing. They also talked about their own local legend projects and knew a lot about the Black Dog of Portland and the 'Veasta'. So I know where to go for future research on these subjects!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Story in Dorset Echo and Time Travel

The article ran in the Echo on Saturday and lots of people are commenting on it. Laura Kitching who wrote the article made a good job of writing up my waffle to her! You can find it on www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/localnews/5032024.Mum_achieves_dream_with_Portland_Sea_Dragon/?ref=rss. There is also a piece in the Free Portland News today. I always read this cover to cover so am especially proud to be featured here. I like that the article quotes James (aged 12), my first reviewer - "Not your typical book on dragons. I like the sea dragon because it's mysterious, but not in a scary way, more like an ancient and beautiful way. I also like how it's written in two time periods; you can see how the past evolves into the present." Writing about time travel is difficult - it throws up all kinds of issues and I had to give these a lot of thought. The main issues for me are:
  • People being in two places at one time...
  • Does time go by in the present if Isabel is in 1616?
  • If you change the past, does it change the present?
  • Does time run in a line, or in a circle, or in a spiral?
  • How do people travel across time?
I found some of the answers to these issues, in some fashion, by reading up on Quantum physics. Very small particles of matter can exist in more than one place at a time (protons) and can move from one place to another without having to travel there. They just pop up! In theory, time travel is possible. We just don't know how to do it yet. I am watching the news on the Particle Accelerator in Geneva with interest as it may give some answers to the issues of how these very tiny particles behave....

So anyway I am really pleased that my time travel makes sense to James and that I didn't have to put in a Narnia wardrobe to get Isabel back to the past!