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Flight of Fantasy

dappled annie and the tigrish coverKia ora! On the cover of my book Dappled Annie and the Tigrish you can see the tigrish flying. You can’t? Are  you sure? Check out the word ‘Tigrish’ …. anything there?

Ah yes, the tiger stripes (they’re lovely to stroke too when you hold the cover), and what’s that slipstream effect  on the page, wooshing silkenly past the ‘grish’ of ‘tigrish’, in front of Annie and into the hedge? That, my friends,  is the tigrish.

There are illustrations inside the book, too – by illustrator Annie Hayward – but nowhere do you see the lovely  tigrish. Not even a peek. Okay, maybe a feather. You see Annie  Hayward and Gecko Press and myself decided  we’d prefer to leave the reader to imagine the magical, glowing  tigrish all for themselves.

When I started writing Dappled Annie, I knew I wanted to have a large magical creature in it. Why? Because I  love characters like the Luck Dragon in Neverending Story and Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  And because my daughter, Issy, loved the dragon in Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider, and because I know so    many young readers like my niece Libby and goddaughter Daisy who love love love stories with animals in  them, and even better if the animals are kind, magical creatures  that befriend the main character who might be  called  Issy or Libby or Daisy or Annie …  all well and good, but there don’t seem to be enough of such stories.

So somehow, as happens when you write, the tigrish appeared in my story. I can’t even remember how I came by the name. I guess he brought it with him. I didn’t intend for him to fly, but when I was talking to Annie Hayward about him (we talked a lot as I wrote the book), she said, ‘Of course he flies.’

Annie’s like that, she lives in the world of the imagination, and flying, magical creatures are as real to her as her pet dog, Ruby. In fact, I started writing Dappled Annie because I saw a painting Annie did of some magical hedges, and then it seemed absolutely right to call the main character Annie.

So should the tigrish fly? I didn’t even have to think about it. Of course the tigrish flew! And what fun it was to write. Not only do people love big, kind, magical creatures in stories, they also love when anything and anybody flies! Think of characters like Peter Pan and Mary Poppins … and on to the Luck Dragon and beyond.

I had to think hard about how the tigrish would fly – would he have wings all the time or just when he flew? how would he take off from the ground with them? how would the children hang on? what would they feel up there? what would they see? This is the fun of being an author, answering questions that only your imagination can answer.

I am going to invite a bunch of children at Wellington’s Capital E to give it a go over the holidays with me. I’m running a writing class on October 9 called Flight of Fantasy where 8-10 year olds will work with me to invent their own flying creature and write a story around it. I am very very excited about this. Read about it here. 

Meanwhile, here’s a taste of the tigrish taking off for the first time, with Annie (9) and her brother Robbie (4) on his back. They’re scared because they don’t know what’s happening. The tigrish has run through Annie’s garden and is leaping over the fence into the field beyond  … and beyond that are the Giant Woods …

Landing on the other side of the fence, there was no heaviness or jolting—the tigrish just seemed to glide into the grass, and the grass let him in.

Annie leaned over to see, and when she did, she tipped slightly and her hands slipped, and Robbie gripped, and she had to sit up quickly to keep balance. She held more tightly to the fur. That’s funny, she thought, is it softer? It was thicker around the shoulders, anyway, but now it was as if her hands were sinking into a feather quilt. She stared at the golden back with the slashes of black across it like black crayon, and the way the fur fell away in long sweeps, flaring out on either side of the powerful shoulders like…she cried out. Wings! The tigrish had wings!

The great creature tensed its muscles and released them, and two enormous dappled wings—muscle by muscle, feather by feather—unfolded. Then the tigrish leapt forward—no, lifted off into the afternoon.

“Fly-ing!” yelled Robbie. He sounded excited now.

Annie shut her eyes. She could feel the air rushing past and around her like the windy days when she walked the hills with her dad. And she could feel the muscles of the tigrish tense and release each time the wings lifted and fell. Such a strong wide back.

Flying! Was there anything else like it? Slowly, she opened each eye.

 

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Meet our September Star Author – Mary McCallum

Our super September Star Author is Mary McCallum.  As well as an author Mary has worked as a creative writing tutor, a bookseller, book reviewer, broadcast journalist and television presenter.  Mary’s first children’s book, Dappled Annie and the Tigrish was published earlier this year.

Thanks for joining us Mary!  We look forward to hearing all about your book and your writing.

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Meet your favourite authors, illustrators and storytellers!

I’m going to be one of many authors, illustrators and storytellers at the Storylines Festival Family Day in Wellington this weekend.

These free family days are great fun. It’s a chance for you to meet writerly types and listen to magical stories. Plus there are fun competitions to enter too.

So come along and join in the story fun. There are family days being held in Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch, Whangarei and Auckland. 

Find out more about Family Days at the Storylines website.

Talk more soon 🙂

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Get set for super (duper) perigee moon!

Guess what? This year, there will be not one, not two, but three perigee supermoons. The first happened in April. The next is due early morning Monday 11 August, and the third will happen in November.

Which begs the question, what is a perigee moon, and why on earth did I end up with one in my book about Tilly Angelica, The Night of the Perigee Moon?

A perigee moon is when the moon is at its closest point to us here on earth. A supermoon is when the full moon and perigee happen together. Because it’s so close, and it’s the full moon, it looks amazing. Big, golden and HUGE. You can read more about supermoons here.

And a perigee moon ended up in my book because I happened to go stand on my back doorstep one night and saw one staring back at me. I was so taken with it that it ended up in my story.

That’s how I find my stories come together. I settle on a central idea, and then all sorts of other funny everyday events and happenings end up bossing their way in too.

When I started writing my book, I had no idea that a supermoon would end up being central to the story. That’s one of the things I love about writing – it’s an unfolding surprise, with moons, stars and all sorts of other enchantments wrapped up in it.

Now, go check out that moon!

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How to become an author – start writing!

Hi, Juliet here – star author for August. Writing that sends a shiver down my spine, because:

  • skip back five months ago – I wasn’t an author
  • skip back four years ago – I wasn’t an author, although I had started writing stories
  • skip back five years ago – I wasn’t an author, or a writer … although I *loved* to read (and I secretly, desperately wanted to write).

But I was too scared.

And distracted.

Plus I was convinced I wouldn’t be any good if I tried it anyway.

So it’s probably no surprise that my heroine Tilly and me share a similarity or two. Tilly starts off at the beginning of my first published book Night of the Perigee Moon petrified she’ll inherit some bizarre-o magical talent on her thirteenth birthday – she doesn’t want to turn into a weirdo.

Just to clarify, I’m not saying I’ve always been afraid of being overtaken by some strange, magical talent. Rather, what Tilly and I do have in common is getting distracted by the wrong things.

I’ve known for the longest time that I wanted to be a writer – since I was eight or nine – but I got distracted by the idea that this was impossible.

Writing stories was hard.

Hardly anyone gets published.

What if I didn’t have the imagination for it, anyway?

Still, whenever I sat down and read a book – Margaret Mahy in particular, whose writing I adore – I’d feel the whisper and pull of all those beautiful words. And this insistent tap on my shoulder. This voice saying I want to do that. I want to be that.

Just like Tilly, I had to work out that you’ve got to push past the distractions, and that when you do, you can transform yourself into anything you want to be. Even, it turns out, into a published author.

So, if you’re like me, and you’ve been feeling an itch or a tap on your shoulder to do or try something, but you’ve been ignoring it – try a Tilly on for size, and push past the distractions. Turn around and give that itch or nudge a good shove back.

It’s amazing where it can lead.

Talk more soon 🙂

 

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Meet our August Star Author – Juliet Jacka

Our awesome August Star Author is Juliet Jacka.  Juliet is a New Zealand author, whose debut novel, Night of the Perigee Moon, was published earlier this year.   Biography for author Juliet Jacka.   Juliet has wanted to write for years, in large part inspired by her love of Margaret Mahy’s young adult books. Escaping the call of writing would have been hard, as she comes from a family of bookworms and crossword fanatics.

Thanks for joining us Juliet!  We look forward to hearing all about your books and your writing.

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How fast the world can change

This is my last post on the Christchurch Kids blog. Thanks so much for hosting me – I’ve had lots of fun putting together my thoughts and pictures. I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I have writing them!

No one in Christchurch needs to be told how the world around them can change within minutes.

1. Sumner library The Press

But for some reason, we assume ancient ruins fall to bits really slowly. Sometimes that’s true, but often it happens much faster. The Parthenon, perched on the Acropolis in Athens, was incredibly well-built. It looked like this for over 2000 years.

2. Parthenon replica Wikipedia

Then the Turks conquered Greece. In 1687 the Venetians attacked the Turks, and the Turks stored their ammunition inside the Parthenon. When the Venetians shelled the Acropolis, a cannon ball hit the magazine and the whole temple blew up.

3. The Parthenon explosion httpict.debevec.org

Since then, the Parthenon has looked suitably ruined, but not because of the ravages of time.

4. The Parthenon today httpwelshmattsmith.blogspot.co.nz

Here’s another example – the great hall at Mykenai, where Atreus pardoned his murderous brother Thyestes in Chapter 11 of Murder at Mykenai. This is what it looks like today. You can still see the round pillar bases and the central hearth.

5. Mykenai great hall today  Cath photo

Compare it to this artist’s impression of King Nestor’s great hall at Pylos. Compare the four pillars and the central hearth with the previous photo. Atreus’s hall would have been every bit as glamourous.

6. Nestor's great hall reconstruction Piet de Jong

The palace of Mykenai burnt down in about 1200 BC, because of a massive earthquake like Christchurch’s. In one night it went from being a fabulous building to a pile of ashes. Nestor’s palace was destroyed around the same time, through enemy invasion.

War and earthquakes have ruined much of what people built in ancient times. But we tend to assume the land has stayed the same. Geology measures change in millions of years, right?

Yes and no.

In 1991, 12-14 million cubic metres of rock and ice fell of the top of Mt Cook/Aoraki. Our highest mountain is now 10 metres lower than it was, the rockfall probably triggered by an earthquake. This kind of event is more common than we realise. Often it’s big, catastrophic events that shape our countryside.

7. Mt Cook Aoraki rockfall Bob McKerrow blog

Here’s something similar that happened in Greece. In my last blog, I mentioned I was staying in a fishing village. It’s called Korfos and it’s one of the few good harbours on a mountainous coastline. I was searching for the ancient Mykenaian port nearby, because I’m planning an enemy invasion on this coast for my next book.

I assumed the port would be on Korfos harbour. Instead I found it way over the hills overlooking a funny little headland. That’s it on the right of the picture, with Korfos on the left.

8. Korfos harbour area Google Earth

I was really puzzled till I found out that, in the Late Bronze Age, Korfos harbour was a swamp. About a hundred years after the ancient Mykenaian port was built, an earthquake lowered the swamp into the sea and turned it into a harbour. And part of the Mykenaian port disappeared into the sea too, like the lost city of Atlantis, taking its own harbour with it.

9. Lost city of Atlantis lukzenth via Photobucket

There’s lots more I could write about. The lake in The Bow has vanished. The town round Tiryns fortress is buried under 10 metres of flood debris. The Narrows, where Laertes’s ships held the evil king Thyestes at bay, is the gap between two tectonic plates that are moving apart … the list goes on.

If you want to know more, you can email me on cath@catherinemayoauthor.com  or visit my website www.catherinemayoauthor.com.

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