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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Tigers and Dog Houses

 Roaaaaaaar! It's here! The Boy with the Tiger's Heart will be available on Thursday 28th August from a book shop near you or a click on the mouse. Eeeeeek.
 I'm still mad about the cover - by such a talented designer Levente Szabo who I've never met but am completely in love with. The cover he has done for the next book- The Dog, Ray is stunning too - and when the time is right I'll post that pic up too. Beezle is most pleased as you'll see(when the time is right) that there is not a dissimilar likeness.
 Pixie is identifying with the Bear in the story and Pocket (quarter Bengal) ---- well you can imagine who he thinks he is.

We are holding out for an Indian summer but have had to light the wood burner now as it's cold in the
house though I still can't bring myself to put in some double glazing. We have mostly metal windows with thin, greenhouse glass, which makes everything condensate. Double glazing seems such un unromantic thing to spend your pennies on. In fact I can't believe I'm even writing about double glazing.
 I expect it's because I've no pics of the funny ducklings to put up in spite of the fact they are looking very funny. I tried to repair the duck house that the badger/fox/pine marten had pushed into but the whole thing collapsed, even though I'd tried to tie it up with baling string. Everyone I asked who was any good with a hammer and nails rolled their eyes when I showed it to them, so in the end I bought a dog house. It's actually really good now someone has put a proper door on it and punched  few holes in it. Actually it's very smart but why would you want to keep a dog in a kennel? It seems cruel. When the girl in the shop asked me if I had a new dog I had to supress a scowl and barked "NO! It's for ducks."

My publisher - Hot Key Books have asked me to write a blog for them about The Boy with the Tiger's Heart. Which I've done for their website but here it is for this one.
Hot Key have asked me to write a blog about The Boy with the Tiger’s Heart. When I write my own blog I rely heavily on pictures of fluffy chicks and the antics of the many furred and feathered creatures I live with.

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I write about my constant battle with dust and fluff, the minutiae of everyday living in a small house within a vast landscape. On the computer screen, the writing of The Boy with the Tiger’s Heart felt a bit like that. You write a sentence and its whole future opens up like the very landscape that lies beyond the window.

The story originally followed a different path – a path I wasn’t sure led anywhere. It had the girl in it and the Bear but the boy with the tiger’s heart hadn’t been there to start with.  I was trying out other avenues in between distracting myself by going onto Google for a ‘bit of research’ and finding I’d bought half a dozen duck eggs off  E Bay  and some thermal socks.
Then one day I had  a  Mary Shelley moment. I was imagining a creature like Frankenstein but made up of animal parts and suddenly the boy with the tiger’s heart was born.
The book was always going to be about the wild – the loss of freedom and the craziness of Health and Safety. The world we live in now has Father Christmas’s in hi viz jackets, children being banned from wearing frilly socks to school in case they trip over them and the death of spontaneity.

The initial inspiration for the story came from reading the news about a man in America who kept a huge collection of exotic and endangered animals. One day he set them all free and took his own life. The result was that the police killed every single animal.  There are more tigers kept in captivity, especially in the States than there are in the wild. In researching tigers I have learnt a lot about conservation issues and the sickening demise of these beautiful creatures due to poaching and the destruction of their habitat. What better force to have in writing a book!
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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

hedgehogs and powder puffs

The ducklings are now over a month old and growing at an alarming rate. I still can't quite tell who is a boy and who is a girl. Boy ducks squeak and girl duck's quack but there's an awful lot of squeaking going on when either a cat appears or I pick them up to give them a bath.

This picture was taken when they were a few weeks old - now they take up the whole bath and soon I'll have to move them to a bigger outside area where I can put in the paddling pool.

Two of the white ducks have got these amusing powder puffs on their heads. As I bought the eggs off E bay I can't be certain - but I think these must have been crossed with a runner duck called a Bali Duck.
picture of a Bali duck taken from the internet.
I'm really hoping they'll be females but they both seem to have a rather high pitched squeak. I think when they grow up, if they're anything like this photo they'll look as if they've stepped out of the Restoration period.
I found this adorable baby hedgehog in the poly tunnel looking like a prickly powder puff the other day. I fear for it's life though - it's perfect snack size for the murderous cats. When I first moved the ducklings outside I found a dead mole, a dead bird and a headless mouse left right by their door. I think it was a warning.
Pixie at the wolfhound day
We attended a wonderful wolfhound day at Lake House two weeks ago. To be sitting in a glorious setting surrounded by eighty wolfhounds was almost too pleasurable for words. Not one of them barked or growled. I didn't enter Pixie into any of the competitions because actually she was on heat and I was terrified she'd break loose and run off with one of the many handsome all male dogs that were there. But whenever one took an interest in her she squeaked(a bit like the ducklings) and sat down firmly on her tail, trying to hide behind my legs.
With Beezle it's quite a different matter. With him she leaps around coquettishly, waving her tail in his face and standing patiently whilst he jumps onto her back, clinging on with all four paws. He looks so funny and when she turns with a sort of "what's that on my back" look he flies off and lands in a heap.

A couple of wolfies at the show.

I must say, inspite of all his injuries and this affront to his dogliness he remains very stoical. As Beezle and Byron would say "What deep wounds ever closed without a scar?"

He remains a little like this beautiful poem by Derek Walcott.

Love after Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. give bread. give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
sit. feast on your life

some of the clematis in the garden are looking great