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Showing posts from September, 2013

MUSE MONDAY - Frances Hardinge's Fly on the Wall

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This week the unicorn is delighted to welcome author Frances Hardinge, who would like to introduce you to a certain fly... Who (or what) is your muse? Frances: My muse is a strange and unglamorous creature - the common housefly. It isn't pretty, and most of the time it's despised, overlooked or swatted on sight. But if you look at it closely, its black armour and cellophane wings have an iridescent sheen. It can walk upside down, take off backwards, and perform aerial acrobatics that would make the Red Baron hang up his flying goggles. It's a survivor and an opportunist because it has to be. It has no shame. If it had a mouth, it would be grinning. If it had a tongue, it would be sarcastic. The fly is my sense of mischief, my curiosity (who doesn't want to be a fly on the wall?) and my love of the underdog. The fly stands for all the characters who aren't pretty or rich or gifted, but who manage to survive through being quick-witted, fleet-footed and ready…

MUSE MONDAY - Ann Evans and her Bear

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This week, author Ann Evans introduces us to a very special bear...


Who (or what) is your muse?
Ann: My muse is a very old threadbare teddy bear. Well he's five years younger than me, so I'll rephrase that. He's a rather mature teddy bear. Occasionally Teddy has been known to go into schools and meet the children. He tells me he likes to inspire them to learn about local history.

When did you first meet?
Ann: Teddy and I met one Christmas morning. He just appeared at the foot of my bed, all wrapped up in shiny paper. I'd had my fifth birthday just the day before. I remember poking my finger through the paper and feeling his fur. When I unwrapped him and squeezed his tummy he made a growling sound. These days he seems to have lost his growl – and most of his fur, but he still whispers good ideas to me all the time.

Does your muse appear in any of your books and/or artwork?
Ann: He was my inspiration for a series of books which I'll be writing soon. It's all a bit hu…

Happy Autumn Equinox!

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The unicorn and I would quickly like to wish everyone a happy autumn equinox. (We have to be quick, because it doesn't last for long!)


Today, in the northern hemisphere, day and night have equal lengths. From now on, the nights will get longer and the days will get shorter up until midwinter, when the reverse happens until we reach the spring equinox, where day and night are once again of equal length.

This year, the autumn equinox falls at 8.44pm this evening (Sunday 22nd Sept), but you've just got time to get to Stonehenge for the official celebration tomorrow at sunrise.


So what does all this mean for authors?

The equinox is time of balance and of change, of bringing old projects to a close and thinking about new ones. I always get itchy feet at this time of year, which sometimes results in me putting my house on the market (though I know estate agents and house buyers are not of the same mind!), or starting a new book even if I haven't finished the old one yet (publish…

Coast to Coast for the Appledore Festival

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Once you have a book published, you'll notice a strange thing. Invitations to speak about your writing flow in from all over the world... London, Belfast, Malta, and San Francisco are just a few of the places I've visited as a published author. Yet we are rarely asked to attend our local events! Writing about the legendary King Arthur, though, I've had the pleasure of doing a bit more local publicity, and this week saw me visiting schools in my home county of Devon for Appledore Festival.

I should probably explain for those who don't live in the west country that North Devon and South Devon are two distinct areas, since Devon is the only county in England to boast two separate coastlines. I live on the busy south coast, known as the English Riviera, connected to London by the mainline and a soon-to-be-finished bypass. Appledore is a small fishing village on the north coast. Getting from here to there might not be very far in miles, but it's still an adventure on a …

MUSE MONDAY: The Smoky Moth of Enid Richemont

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This week, the Unicorn welcomes experienced children's author Enid Richemont...

Who or what is your muse?
Enid: My Muse is a totally silent, smoky Moth. Its wings are covered in the softest fur, and its body is jewelled. Its eyes, which are multi-facetted, see everything, but Moth doesn't easily share, and has to be persuaded and wooed. Sometimes Moth is male, but mostly it's female, or a combination of both.


When did you first meet?
Enid: Long ago, when I was writing THE GLASS BIRD.

Does your muse appear in any of your books and/or artwork?
Enid: Moth haunts THE GLASS BIRD, because Moth and the Bird are kindred creatures.

If you won the lottery and had complete artistic freedom, what would your muse write/create?
Enid: A magic substance that would stop people from hurting each other - hurting others is such a waste of joy and life.

Before you go, does your muse have a message for the Unicorn?
Moth: Our people are such slow learners, and only we know how much they have to le…

MUSE MONDAY - The "Anmails" of Griselda Gifford

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This Monday, the unicorn welcomes author Griselda Gifford...



Who or what is your muse?
Griselda: I think animals of all kinds, from mice to dogs and ponies, have been my muse. Our Springer, Tia, is sitting now by my feet, inspiring me!

When did you first meet?
Griselda: First inspiration for writing – my “Anmails” (I still can’t spell!) diary at ten years old – featuring birth of rabbits – sitting in an old garage with my rabbit at my side. Also, spending a whole afternoon sitting alone in a field reading Black Beauty at eight years old – surely this marvellous book was the inspiration for War Horse? I tried to teach my tame mice to walk along a piece of string, for a circus idea – alas, they weren’t keen!

Does your muse appear in any of your books and/or artwork?
Griselda: Nearly all my books have animals in them from wildcats to bolting horses (all horses bolt when I get on!)

If you won the lottery and had complete artistic freedom, what would your muse write/create?
Griselda: Mayb…

Over at the History Girls... is King Arthur too English for America?

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Today I am over at the History Girls talking about books that travel... and those that don't!

Click here to read my History Girls post and join the discussion.

*** SATURDAY EDIT ***

It seems my above post went a bit viral. After reading all the interesting and lively comments, many from American readers, I just want to add a few words here..

1. Publishing is all about SALES - I think most of us would agree on that. And as a published author who hopes to continue to publish many more books, I'd agree too. I need to sell a certain number of books to survive, just like my publisher does, and if getting more sales was as easy as changing the subject matter or background of my stories then I would do so in a flash. But it seems even publishers aren't quite sure which books will sell massive numbers, so why shouldn't a book about King Arthur's daughter have as much chance of selling as a book about Poseidon's son? (For comparison's sake, let's assume the same …

MUSE MONDAY - The Wonderful Whippets of Karen Bush

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Followers of this blog might notice that my author has changed the Muse Monday format. Now I get to pin down other people's muses with my glittery horn and interview them! First author in my glittery line-up is Karen Bush...


Who or what is your muse?
Karen: Two whippets, Archie and Angel. They are very flesh-and-blood muses and can be counted upon to keep me company while writing – which otherwise would be a very lonely job. They are keen to keep me working hard so that I can afford to humour every whim and foible they have, whether it is a smart new collar or special organic bedtime biscuits. So keen are they that they have insisted that I buy a netbook so I can carry on working while sitting on the sofa with them in the evenings as they watch the telly.

When did you first meet?
Karen: Fate threw Archie into my arms eight years ago, and Angel six months after.
Does your muse appear in any of your books and/or artwork?
Karen: Not yet, although it’s probably only a matter of time. They d…