Seawigs in Lyme Regis, Arthur in Wistman’s Wood

Lyme Regis

 It was a lovely day here on Wednesday, and Sarah McIntyre and I were off to the seaside. We persuaded my wife Sarah to drive us to Lyme Regis, delightful Dorset seaside resort famed for Mary Anning, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and thingy falling off the Cobb in that Jane Austen book, you know the one.

It’s only about an hour’s drive from Dartmoor to Lyme, but I’m afraid McIntyre still got very bored in the back of the car…

But we weren’t just going to the seaside for a jolly, OH NO. We were visiting the Woodroffe School.  Head teacher Richard Steward had asked us to talk to the to year seven pupils about our work.  This is a bit of a strange time, because our first joint book, Oliver and the Seawigs, isn’t published yet, but it’s coming soon, and we’ll be touring the festivals with it this autumn, so it’s nice to have a chance to talk about it in advance, and to show people some of Sarah’s fabulous illustrations.  And Sarah showed everyone how to draw sea monkeys, which is a very useful skill.

Afterwards, I talked to a group who have been doing some work on Mortal Engines. It’s nice that it’s still finding new readers after these years, and they’d produced these posters for an imaginary Mortal Engines movie, and some pamphlets for Magnus Crome’s re-election campaign. Would you buy a used Traction City from this man?

We even had our photo taken in front of one of the school’s amazing murals (and behind some of its amazing pupils) for the local paper…

…though I prefer this picture.

And as we were leaving we met a human whoopee cushion, which rounded the morning off nicely.

Then we strode down the steep hill into the centre of town, met Sarah (who had been pottering about taking photographs and looking for ichthyosaurs) and had lunch at a nice cafe on the sea front, before walking out along the Cobb, as every visitor to Lyme must, especially the ones who have just bought fancy new hats and want their photos taken.

It was pretty much a perfect day…

Wistman’s Wood

By Thursday, normality had been restored: it was raining again.  But we set out anyway for Wistman’s Wood, in the company of Joyce Herbeck, her colleague Kim, and their students from Montana State University, who are on a whistlestop tour of Britain’s literary sites. They’d been at Tintagel the day before, and met me to talk about Here Lies Arthur, among other things. Joyce makes this trip every other year, and when she got in touch last time round to ask if we could meet up  I suggested a quick detour to Wistman’s Wood, which is only a short way from the road along a fairly easy track, and looks like the perfect fairytale/fantasy forest. Last time the weather was rather better, but I hope this year’s students enjoyed it despite the fog, drizzle and gnats. More on the McIntyreblog, as always. 

Afterwards Joyce bought us lunch at the Two Bridges Hotel, and kindly gave McIntyre and I a lift part of the way home. I think the students were a bit surprised when we got Vince the coach driver to drop us off near Bennet’s Cross, on an absolutely featureless stretch of fog-bound heather. (We know how to make a dramatic exit.) We waved them off on their way to their next stop (Stonehenge), and hiked home through the old mining gullies of Heathercombe.

This writing lark is fun, and you get to meet the nicest people! Except that, now and then, you actually have to sit down and do some writing. That’s what I shall be doing for the next few weeks – there are a lot of Goblins clamouring for my attention…

Radio Devon Interview & Dartmoor photos

Here’s a link to the live interview I did this morning with Judi Spiers for her popular show BBC Radio Devon. We talked for about twenty minutes, about Goblins, The Exeter Riddles, Oliver and the Seawigs, Animated Exeter and last weekend’s Chagword festival – which was a huge success, by the way. Many thanks to all the people who turned up to my event! And many thanks too to Sarah McIntyre for posting this morning’s interview on YouTube.

Staying with matters Devonian, my wife, Sarah Reeve, is planning to post a photo each day all this year. They’re mostly pictures of the Dartmoor landscape near our house, and they’re lovely. You can follow her on Instagram (where she goes by the name of moorland) or on Twitter for updates.

Chagword and PhoniCon

I’ve been zooming all over the place doing school events recently, so it’s nice to announce two upcoming appearances much closer to home, in Chagford and Exeter.

Chagford is a little Dartmoor town about twenty miles from Exeter, and close to some of my favourite bits of the moor.  It has long been infested with artists, writers and illustrators, and this year, for the first time, it will be hosting its own literary festival, Chagword. The line-up includes Richard Dimbleby, Kathy Lette, Chris Mullin, and A.L.Kennedy, and I’ll be doing a lunch-time session at 1.45 pm next saturday (15th March), in which I’ll be talking about Goblins, Dwarves, Mortal Engines and anything anyone cares to ask.  You can find details of my thing here, and here’s a link to the main website.  This is Dartmoor’s only literary festival, so it would be great to see it thrive and become a regular event.

I’ll also be appearing on Sunday 7th April at PhoniCon, a Science Fiction and Fantasy festival at Exeter’s Phoenix Arts Centre which will feature films, writers, artists, ‘nerdy collectables’ and live music in the evening. I’m not sure yet what time I’ll be on – probably in the middle of the day – but it looks as if there will be plenty to see whatever time you turn up. Guests include Bristol-based writer Joanne Hall, former Dr Who companion Anneke Wills, and Nicholas Pegg, who, as if being a leading authority on David Bowie isn’t cool enough, is also an actual DALEK.

More information here on the PhoniCon website!

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