Sunday, 29 November 2009

Writing about Rain

Doesn't the Steadfast Tin Soldier in Hans Christian Andersen's story get washed down the gutter in a deluge of rain? Or am I confusing him with Incy Wincy?

My husband is from Cumbria and I've had many visits there when it has rained - I've seen how it can go on and on for days, the skies heavy and grey, the ground sodden. But what they're going through now is unbelievable. My sister-in-law's friend in Cockermouth told her how the windows of submerged shops caved in under the pressure and the shop goods set off down the street like items on a conveyor belt.

Condolences to all who have lost so much in the last few weeks.

With the rain driving against my window while I write today I've been thinking about rain in stories -

Getting waylaid by torrential rain - As I Lay Dying
Sheltering from rain as a means to develop intimacy - hmmm...can't think if any examples but I know there are some. Any ideas? Dickens?
Constant miserable wetness as an allegory of the general miseries of life
Characters who are oblivious to the soaking they're getting due to their emotional state - Jane Eyre
Rain after drought to signify hope and renewal.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Visit to St. Mary Magdalen Academy

Last Monday I visited SMMA in the Liverpool Road to talk about writing and the inspiration for Out of the Blue. I really enjoyed meeting the students so thanks to all of you who came along in your lunch hours and to Emma Wallace in the library for organising my visit.

Walking home I had an idea about the story I'm currently working on. I looked around for a cafe to stop and write in but there wasn't anything nearby so, scared I'd forget it, I phoned myself and left a message. I've not phoned myself before but it suddenly seemed like a good idea; I thought I'd look less conspicuous talking to myself on the phone than muttering into thin air. When I got home I went straight to my desk and started writing - I didn't need to listen to the message.

A couple of days later I was listening to a new message and heard my message from Monday. I didn't recognise my own voice and had a split second of feeling amazed. Who is this person telling me what I should do about Cora's mum? I thought.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Edward Lear and the Eagle Owl

Yesterday, I flew an eagle owl. Now, though this might be the correct verb to use it required no flying on my part more's the pity - I just had to hold my arm out and the Owl flew to me - as you can see here.

These birds are native to Europe and were common enough before the Victorians shot them to near extinction in the belief that they'd be better stuffed and displayed in a glass case than living in a forest. Edward Lear - a famous Victorian - did not, as far as I know, shoot an eagle owl - but he did marry one off to a pussycat and have them sail away for a year and a day to the land where the bong tree grows.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Language College

Yesterday I met a class of Y9 girls and I had a great time. Thank you for listening so brilliantly and for your questions I was really impressed. And another school with an excellent library - and this one is about to be refurbished so it will soon be even better. I'm ashamed to say that I cannot remember my own school library which is really weird. We must have had one surely? But if we had I would have lived in it.
Thank you EGA - I'm looking forward to coming back to see you soon. 

Friday, 6 November 2009

Fortismere today, Waterstones tomorrow

Today was the first in a spree of visits to schools to meet YA readers. I'm more used to visiting primary schools so I was hoping it would go well. I went to Fortismere School in North London and talked to students in Y8 about writing in general and Out of the Blue in particular. I was impressed by the students - fantastic listeners who asked great questions and by their library which is superb - friendly, well stocked, great displays and peaceful!
Tomorrow, Sat 7th November I am going to be in the Earle St Branch of Waterstones in Maidstone from 11.30am followed, on Sunday by a very special Remembrance Service in Lenham, Kent.