A big welcome to everyone we met and talked to when signing books at Borders, Silverlink over half term. We enjoyed it!
A few of you have asked where you can get your writing published, so this is just to remind you that there’s a brilliant magazine for young writers and it’s called (surprise surprise) Young Writer. You can find their web page here and order a subscription.
We wish we’d had this around when we started writing. As it is, we have notebooks full of stories and plays that we wrote in junior school and did nothing with.
There’s also a new young people’s mini home study writing course. It’s run by The Writers Advice Centre and you can ask them about it by using the email address on their website.
If your school would like us to come on an author visit, do please let your teacher know about us. We’d love to meet you in class. And that way, we could all talk about writing and have some fun!
Anyway, if you just bought Scordril, thank you so much and have fun with him and his friends. I hope you meet him one day in the real world, like Morris and Flick did.
One of us will be at Borders, Team Valley, Gateshead on Tuesday 3 March at 6pm for the young people’s book club. See you there!
Camping 1950s style
Morris and Flick are camping beside Traprain Law in East Lothian in two single ridge tents. These were common in the 1950s. I think I saw some larger versions up in the area near Jedburgh a few years ago when some Scouts were camping in a football field. But you wouldn’t be likely to see many of these tents now, so here’s the low-down:
1 They were made of canvas, just less than a metre in height, so you couldn’t stand up in them, and most children would have to stay in the centre or their heads would touch the canvas where it slopes down – and that makes it leak when it rains! They were less than 2m long and just wide enough for one person to sleep.
2 The tents had something called a ridge pole along the top of the roof. Guy ropes were joined to what you might call the gutters, and if you pulled these out sideways and pegged them into the ground, your tent made a house shape.
3 Then you had to lay a groundsheet inside. In those days, the groundsheet was not sewn in, so spiders could (and did) crawl in. A loose groundsheet was quite good in some ways because you could lift it out to dry in the sun, and the grass underneath would get unsquashed for a while and dry out too. Wet grass tends to go yellowy coloured after a while, like Chinese bean sprouts!
4 There were no zips in most of the tents in 1950. The door was tied with short lengths of tape. That’s why Morris fumbled to get it undone the night the nightdragons came back – the dew at midnight had made the tape wet, which is then very hard to untangle.
5 You didn’t have loo blocks to go to. You put up a tiny rectangular tent round a hole you had dug. The earth you dug out of the hole was left beside it so that you could put a shovel-full back in after you went to the loo over the hole. That’s probably as much as you want to know about going to the loo on a campsite in 1950!
6 Most people had fun lighting a fire made of kindling (dried leaves and twigs), branches and a log or two. You balanced your kettle or billy can over the flames. Some people wrapped potatoes in foil and laid these in the hot ashes to cook. Others stuck lumps of dough on a metal skewer and held it over the flames till it went brown. Torching your food or keeping warm by a log fire was not too different to how Scordril and his kin lived!
If you want to read what happened after Morris saw the nightdragons returning, you can find Scordril here. The main website is here. Six hundred people are now reading about the Lothian Dragons – we hope to introduce some more people to them on Wednesday 18 February at Silverlink Borders in the Newcastle area.
A big hello to everyone I met at Borders, Fort Kinnaird Retail Park, yesterday. And, of course, to anyone signing on here who bought Scordril somewhere else.
It was really good to meet so many of you. Only one half of Kelsey Drake was able to be at the shop, but the day was made great fun by all the conversations about Traprain Law, the treasure that was found there years ago, dragons flying behind mage clouds, Musselburgh town centre and all your families.
One subject cropped up several times, and that was how we should pronounce Traprain Law. None of you agreed with each other. When we first visited, a lady in Musselburgh told us TRAPrain. Yesterday, some of you said TrapRAIN, others agreed with the Musselburgh lady, and on some old maps it says TrapAIN anyway. I’m more muddled than I was. And it certainly had a funny effect on those who were giving out messages on the tannoy yesterday, saying Kelsey Drake was in store. I though they were going to get their tongues tied in knots explaining where the book is set!
But many of you had walked on the Law – so just keep an eye out for the dragons coming in and out of their tunnels. That’s what they couldn’t do when the ancient magic finally grew strong enough to trap them. They come out all the time now.
Anyway, as I said to many of you, here’s an offer. If you finish the book and want to write a message or a review, or send a drawing or painting of anything in it – or a different coloured version of the cover pic we’ve been handing out – then please do head over to the main website and find the contact form. You can then tell us what you want to send and we’ll find a way to get it from you and put it on the site for everyone to read or look at.
Most of you asked about the next book, so we’ll have to get our skates on and get that one ready for publication. We don’t want anyone throwing this dragon joke at us, do we:
Dragon your feet again!