Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Sweating with Wolves

The wolves come...

Friday 13th may be unlucky for some, but not for me.

On Friday July 13th I went into London, to Tiverton Primary School in Tottenham, to see the second performance of a musical play based on my book, The Wolf's Footprint.

It was an exhaustingly hot day -- and I got lost. As I  wandered around, interrupted several people as they were going about their business, to ask the way to Tiverton School. Every single one of these randomly selected people was as friendly and helpful as could be. Several pulled out smart-phones and entered the name of the school, so they could show me where it was and guide me on my way. Thanks to them, I found Tiverton in time for the afternoon session.

So thank you, kindly people of Haringey and Tottenham and especially those -- you know who you are -- who were stopped by a hot and dishevelled writer asking, "Do you know where Tiverton School is?"

At the school I spent the afternoon talking with two great classes about -- oh, how a writer works, the writing of Bremen Town Musicians, ghosts, wolves, fairy-tales. I had a great time. I only hope the children had half as good a time as I did.

Then I got to relax in the staff-room and chat to violinist Anna Jenkins and drummer Sebastien Hankin until it was time for the evening performance.

The play was first performed in 2014 and you can read about it here.

The performance this year, with a different cast, was every bit as good.  I knew how the story was going to turn out, but I was still on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Wicked courtiers try to dissuade the king from helping his starving people -- in song!

The music moves from the sad and poignant to the boisterous and joyful. How the children danced so energetically -- with encores! -- in that heat, I don't know, but they did. The oldest cast members were no more than twelve but they performed with a confidence and engagement that was a delight.

When Resham Mirza, the admirable head-teacher, tweeted that she had watched the show 'with pride,
joy and admiration' I could only echo her. As the head of this wonderful school she has good reason to be proud. As the Head Governer of the school told me, as we sat in the front row, Resham not only nutures all kinds of artistic expression at the school, but they have great academic results too.

And, of course, there is Kate Stilitz, who wrote the music and lyrics and directed, drawing such wonderful performances from her young cast. Follow the link for a look at Kate's website, where you can see something of the many song-cycles and musical pieces she has written for children to perform. More than one of her pieces has been performed at the Royal Festival or Albert Hall.

The villagers celebrate the arrival of food.

 Kate also supplied the trumpeter, Ruben, as he's her son! Grow your own, that's the way.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Elfgift and ElfKing by Susan Price

 On I go with re-issuing my back-list. 

ElfKing would have been out sooner if I could have tracked down a better image for the cover.

I tried using another wikimedia image from the Sutton Hoo hoard... the famous 'man between wolves' from the purse-lid. The original is infilled with scarlet enamel and some think it represents the god Odin (who is a character in ElfKing.)

Trouble was, the rounded shape of the jewel just didn't work with the rectangle of the cover. No matter how I enlarged it, or moved it or the lettering about, the rounded shape just looked wrong.

Besides, my brother said the man 'had a silly face.'

So I used another image, one taken from a helmet plate. The book contains a couple of characters who are almost a Norse version of the Greek 'Heavenly Twins.' (There are some hints that Norse Myth did once have twin brother gods, a little like the Gemini or Dioskouri.)

 This works a little better as a design, I think but although the prancing warriors are authentically Viking Age, they are, well, a bit silly.

Just a bit. With their chubby little legs.

I decided I just had to get a cover done and stop messing about with PhotoShop. So I decided on a sword.

As my colleague and friend Katherine Roberts remarked a couple of days ago, a sword isn't a very original image for a fantasy cover. But it says, clearly, 'This is a book with sword-fighting in it. And if you like books with sword-fighting, you might like this.'

Sometimes, you just have to get on with stuff.

After all the work I put into the gold lettering, I decided that the plain white lettering looked much better. So much so, that I went back and made the lettering on Elfgift plain white too.

The slogan on the front of the book, says, 'The day of my death and the manner of my dying were fated long ago.' This isn't really mine. It's a deliberate misquote from the Norse Myths. The god Freyr sends his servant, Skirnir, on a dangerous mission into Giant's Home, to demand the beautiful giantess, Gerd, in marriage. Asked if he isn't afraid to make such a journey, Skirnir replies, why should he be? The length of his life and the day of his death were fated long ago. If he's fated to die in Giant's Home, he will. If not, not. His being afraid won't make any difference to Fate.

Ghost Drum by Susan Price
(I used the first part of Skirnir's reply in Ghost Drum. Skirnir says: 'Fearlessness is better than faint-heart for any man who puts his nose out of doors.' In Ghost Drum it became, after various rewrites, it bcame the homelier, 'Whenever you poke your nose round the door, pack courage and leave fear at home.' 

The Norse Myths have been a constant inspiration for me. I don't know if I would even have become a writer if I hadn't collided with them at eleven.)

Oh well. The next task is to get the books up as Kindles. If I can remember how.

Buy Elfgift

  Buy ElfKing

Buy Ghost Drum