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Showing posts from May, 2011

Friday Favourite – Kingdom of the Golden Dragon by Isabel Allende

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I have been a fan of Isabel Allende’s haunting adventure stories since her first book House of the Spirits. So the Muse was squealing in delight to discover she’d written this series for younger readers.

Kingdom of the Golden Dragon is actually the second book in a trilogy, which begins with City of the Beasts and continues with Forest of the Pygmies. But the three stories are complete in themselves, so you don’t really need to read them in order. In this book, Alex Cold and his friend Nadia travel with his journalist grandmother Kate (a feisty and energetic sort of grandmother!) to a hidden kingdom high in the Himalayas, where a fabled Golden Dragon tells the future to members of the royal family who know the secret of the statue. This includes the king’s son Prince Dil Bahadur (“brave heart”), who is undergoing spiritual and physical training in the mountains with a Buddhist monk, during which he learns how to fly across chasms and speak to yetis.

All is peaceful in the kingdom, unti…

Muse Monday - The Ferret by Joan Lennon

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I have a suitcase – one of those soft cloth ones, ethnic, stripy – which I take on some of my school visits. I stand up at the front of the classroom and I lay this suitcase gently on the desk, and I say to the kids, “I have, in this suitcase, 12 ferrets. Hands up anyone who would like them to be LIVE ferrets?” Without fail, everyone who is 4 foot and under sticks their hands in the air. I stick MY hand in the air. The teachers make little moue faces and do not join in.

Because they know what kind of commotion would ensue if I really did have a busyness of live ferrets* with me.** I know too. And that is why I choose the ferret to be my muse. (Though a better word might be “acknowledge”.)

Ferrets are spirits of chaos. They are the gods of wild enthusiasm and ridiculous persistence (not to mention the joy of squiggling through small spaces for no other reason than just to see if you can.) They bite and they smell and they are impossible to control. They race when they want and they sle…

Muse Monday – The Unicorn by Katherine Roberts

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I don’t quite remember when my muse first appeared out of the enchanted mists – but I now realize he’s been there from the start. It just took me a little while to see him, as is often the way with magical creatures.

He was there in my first published story “The Last Maiden” (Dark Horizons, British Fantasy Society 1994), where he is a misunderstood creature hunted by the villagers for goring a baby to death… something he might or might not have done, as I leave it up to the reader to decide. Perhaps that’s how I felt about my writing at the time, since the fantasy genre appeared to be shunned by the literary establishment and generally misunderstood as being all about dragons and magic swords, ignoring its real range and power. This was before Harry Potter made fantasy trendy… though being trendy seems to have had the opposite effect, and now everyone thinks it’s all about boy wizards and millionaire authors... My unicorn shakes his mane in despair.

Shortly after this I won a competit…