Sunday, 19 April 2009

This week's word is: RAVENS

Interesting things, ravens. They (and crows) crop up with amazing regularity in the books of the author, Chris d'Lacey. Earlier this year, for instance, I caught him tapping this passage from Dark Fire into his computer...

The first bird to change was the dominant male. He was tossing his head back and forth when his skull suddenly swelled to twice its size and ears appeared where ears had never been before. His beak collapsed into a sawn off nose, complete with flared and dribbling nostrils. At the same time his striking blue-black wings shortened dramatically and thickened at the shoulder. Next to go were his spindling legs, replaced by muscle and bulleted claws. The raven had become a tiny monster...

Why does he give them such a bad time? I can tell you, straight from the dragon's mouth, that these birds are clever. It has been scientifically proven that they can solve problems. I don't mean Sudoku and nonsense like that. I mean experiments with food. Talking of which, I caught the author trying, unsuccessfully, to catch peanuts in his mouth the other day. Not a pretty sight. In a straight competition, I'd favour the raven.

Anyway, I asked him why ravens are always the bad guys in his stories and he said, "Blueberries. I never could get on with blueberries. Ravens have blueberry-coloured eyes." All those who require tips on writing, take note: the author selects his villains on the basis of his preferences for fruit!

But he did tell me one interesting thing. At the time, we were standing on the verandah of our house by the sea, watching two crows building a nest in a nearby tree. All afternoon, they had been chasing away seagulls that came too close. "Do you know why they're doing that, Zookie?" he asked. I raised an eye ridge, as any dragon would, expecting him to say that the crows were protecting their unborn young. But the author shook his head and said, "It's because long ago, when the world was created, the Great Spirit placed fire, wind and water into boxes and gave them as gifts to the animals. When the boxes were opened, the world came into being. But the box containing light was given to Seagull. And he was greedy and wanted the gift for himself. So along came Raven and jabbed a thorn into Seagull's foot. Seagull cried out in pain and dropped the box. Out of it came the sun, moon and stars. And this, according to the people of the North, is how the first day began..." Well, yay for the raven, I say. Maybe gulls as villains in book 6. I'll work on him...



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