Sunday, 15 May 2011

new ideas

I have spent the last two weeks, travelling, between school visits and  family parties. It always excites me that no matter where I go, I see something, hear something that triggers off an idea for a story...or even a character. Do you ever notice the great place names there are in Britain? I've seen such fabulous ones,have them all written down in my notebook, but on my way up to Elgin a couple of weeks ago I passed a sign for LAGGAN WOLFTRAX. Laggan Wolftrax, I thought, what a great name for a character. And next day when I  was talking to my first class at Lossiemouth I threw the name at the pupils. Can you picture him? What does he look like? What is he wearing? Is he a good guy, or a bad guy, and why has he come into the story?  I was amazed at the character they came up with, the story they created from that character. It was the same in the next school, at Buckie High ( always love going to Buckie High!), though the character was different and so was the story. Next day, it was a completely different story and character again when I used the name at Kemnay Primary. That's what I really enjoy about school visits, to see the fantastic ideas a word, a name, a title can generate. And helping them to free their imaginations seems to unlock mine too. I came away with my mind bubbling with ideas.  And don't think Laggan Wolftrax isn't going to appear in a story of mine!
   Last week I was back up north again, always love that drive, we live in such a beautiful country. This time I was at Turriff, another favourite. It was Turriff Book Fortnight, loads of authors up there, met the lovely Tom Palmer and his family. Honestly, the work school librarians do to promote reading is amazing. It all culminated with the Grampian Book Award. What a wonderful event. Nicola Morgan, Cathy Cassidy and myself were the only three of the shortlisted authors who were there, and I have to admit, I wanted one of us to win. Does that sound awful? Well, it wasn't just for our sake, but for the pupils who had all been bussed in to Aberdeen University for the ceremony and who had read and voted for the books. It's good I think if the author they voted for is there, for them to talk to, to sign their books. I know it's not always possible, there have been times when I haven't been able to make it either.But I was keeping my fingers crossed it would be one of our names that would come out of the envelope!  I honestly thought that we didn't stand a chance. Against Charlie Higson and a zombie book! Who can beat zombies! So you can imagine how excited I was when a joint winner was announced, and I was one of the joints! Zombies and me! I'm still on a high about it.  
   Home again, and just finishing the third in the Tyler Lawless series, and I have a week at home to do it.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Up North

I always seem to be away when anything really big, something that is going to change history, is happening! For instance, at 9/11 I was way up in Stornaway, doing school visits. I caught the news in a staff room, fleeting images on a small television. I remember I was out that night and ate mussels and was so sick, and had to fly out next morning. I've never eaten mussels since.  Piper Alpha? Do you remember that terrible disaster? I was on holiday in Buckie when it happened. In a caravan with my family and no television at all. Same with the raid on Entebbe.When the Israelis flew in and rescued all those airline passengers whose plane had been hijacked.  And now, Osama Bin Laden is killed and where am I? Away again. In a hotel with a television that can't even get BBC1. Dying to hear the details and not being able to. Maybe I should stay at home more often.  Yet, perhaps being in these places will make me remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of these historic events.
    I bet too, even as I write this, Hollywood moguls are casting the film version. I think Will Smith would have to play Obama. What do you think? Maybe Bruce Willis could be the cigar chewing head of military operations. The soldiers dropped into the compound would have to be some of the top young actors of today. Shia Le Bouef Perhaps?  And what about Osama Bin Laden himself? Poor old Art Malik comes to mind. Brilliant actor and soooo good lookiing, but permanently cast as the Asian bad guy. My son and daughter in law and I had great fun casting the film, and who is to say we're wrong. It would make great cinema.
     Now I am up in Elgin, beginning a mini tour of the North of Scotland, I'm going to Buckie again tomorrow to give out prizes, I always love going there.  But maybe I better get back home soon before something else happens!