Author Archive

Giant seed pods at Kew – an Alice in Wonderland experience – inspiration for story?

Surreal willow weavings of giant seed pods by Tom Hare in Kew Gardens this Spring evoke the idea of being small like Alice. Kew is the ideal setting for entering this other strange world. The trees are already larger than most. Perhaps there are even large rabbit holes as well. To add to the surreal experience of being small in a very large world there are now these giant seed pods of intricately woven willow. Poppy seed pods pods tower high  casting shadows and sending flying saucer shapes into the sky. Woven aniseed stars lie scattered on the grass, a...

Calling up Our Giants

Horatius was never my hero. Give me Lars Porsena any day. Low exposure to Roman history as a child might’ve been to blame. I was too busy with Zulu wars, Shaka, Dingaan and the battle of Isandlwana. Roman history only emerged years later when I was studying Latin. I loved the idea of Lars Porsena so much that I can still quote the opening verses without stumbling. It wasn’t who or what he was that appealed, it was the sheer joy of invoking Macaulay’s words… shame on the false Etruscan who lingers in his home when Porsena of Clusium is...

The Sweet Smell of Sliced Watermelon and Swimming with Dolphins

While snow has bucketed down across the Northern hemisphere, I’ve been fighting a duel today with my modem (Broadband doesn’t come easily in Africa!) and have only just managed to pick up all the ABBA news like Leslie’s lovely icy descriptions and Meg’s blog on the Big Outdoors and Elen’s notebook and the 100 odd emails on the books everyone got for Christmas. Sitting here barelegged and barefooted tapping away at these keys I feel about as out of touch and as isolated as being stranded in a snow-bound home. So with the sweet smell of sliced watermelon wafting up...

And the Winner Is…?

  Last week I was at an IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) event that celebrated the nomination of author, David Almond, and author/illustrator, Michael Foreman, for next year’s top prize in international children’s literature – the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Winners will be announced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March 2010 and the Awards will be presented at the IBBY World Congress in Santiago de Compostela.It’s given biennially by IBBY to a living author and illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. David Almond and Michael Foreman, nominated by the...

A Google-eyed slant on the world

As a break from editing the bare breasts and sex out of my Egyptian novel Eye of the Moon for a US publisher, I’m reading Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Jeff Jarvis’s What Would Google Do? simultaneously. The three make very odd companions while I shift from 1500 BC to the 16th century, and then on to the digital world of now. In What Would Google Do? Jeff Jarvis suggests we have to kill books to save them. He says they’re dead because they’re frozen in time with no means to update except by new editions, they’re a one-way relationship...