The wonderful people from the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society travelled all the way to Exeter yesterday to meet their members, so I gave Katherine a prod with my horn and off she went (I went too, of course, but stayed invisible so she wouldn’t have to pay the unicorn fare for me on the train). Here are Lucey and Alison from ALCS, still smiling after the long day.
In the afternoon we discussed money and where it comes from (a human obsession) with ALCS expert Barbara Hayes and ate delicious sticky lemon cake. Later on, we discussed stories and where they come from (a Muse obsession) with local children’s author Mal Peet accompanied by wine and nibbles – though after another gentle prod with my horn Katherine had orange juice, because it's always good to keep a clear head in public in case there are any paparazzi about… and a good job she did, because here is Mr Mal Peet snapped with a glass in his hand!
Mal won the Branford Boase Award a few years after Katherine did for his first book, and has since become a well-regarded teen author. The reason his books are published for teens is that they contain sex. Well, the new one does… we all got a sneak preview when he read from the manuscript. Unicorns, of course, don’t know ANYTHING about sex (unicorn foals appear by magic out of the enchanted mists, and we only talk to maidens) so I won’t go into details here… if you're curious, I'm afraid you’ll have to wait for Mal’s book! But the Muse can tell you it is set in the year Katherine was born - 1962 - when Mal was a teenager growing up in the wilds of Norfolk and still innocent of the world.
To give you an idea of how innocent everyone was back then, here is the official advice for nuclear attack apparently given out in schools at the time:
1. Dig a shallow pit.
2. Cover your bare skin (hood over head, etc) and lie down in the pit.
3. When the bombs have stopped, wait two hours to make sure.
4. Upon emerging, remember to brush the “fallout” off your clothes and wipe your shoes before getting on with your life.
Mal said he thinks Norfolk was a bit like Devon back then… sounds to me it was rather more like the enchanted mists!
Many thanks to ALCS for hosting the day and providing such delicious refreshments.
The Muse would like to test the effectiveness of the 1962 advice for nuclear attack, so here is a short survey: has anyone reading this blog survived a nuclear bomb in this way? Do you think it would work?