Sunday, 10 January 2010

This week's word is: WINTER

Hello, dragon fans. It’s a lovely day here. We are blanketed in snow. Those of you who can cast your minds back as far as Icefire will remember that dragons like snow. It reminds us of the way the planet used to be when we first arrived here, many thousands of years ago… The author doesn’t seem to appreciate this. He just keeps muttering on about the cold and how it’s impossible to drive his car. “It’s like Ingavar’s ice rink, out there,” he grumbled. “And why do my feet feel so cold this morning?” That would be the snow that Gretel had packed into the toes of his slippers. Serves him right for being such a grouch.

He was in a better mood yesterday, thankfully. I was busy sharpening my pencil in G’reth’s ear when I heard the author give a hoot of laughter. (G’reth, of course, didn’t hear a thing because he was bunged up with wood shavings.) I flew to the study to investigate and found our hero reading his fan mail. The message that had made him laugh so loudly had come from a teacher in Ohio, America. It appeared that one of the teacher’s pupils, a young lad called Jacob, had turned up 15 minutes late for school that morning. When asked by his teacher to explain the reason for this, Jacob said he’d been reading Fire Star and had been so engrossed in the story that he hadn’t noticed his school bus stop outside the gates of school. In fact, he didn’t realise what had happened until the bus pulled up in the bus garage a few miles down the road! The rather startled bus driver kindly drove him back to school. So beware. This is what a dragon story can do to you – make you lose all sense of time and place. Later, the author told me that he’d once done exactly the same thing as Jacob and missed his stop – on a train. (Hah!) But he’d simply been gazing out of the window. Maybe he was dreaming about dragons and David Rain even then…?

Talking of David, the snippet of information I gave you about FW has caused a few of you to write in and question how David can possibly be twelve at the start of the book when he’s in his twenties in all the others. Well, you’ll just have to wait and find out. It wouldn’t be fair to say too much about FW when fans in America haven’t even seen Dark Fire yet, but FW is certainly ‘different’. Only three and a half months to go to the publication of Dark Fire in America now. (Gwendolen wants to organise a countdown.) Lots of you have been clever and bought the UK edition in time for Christmas. You seem to be enjoying it. ‘Awesome’, ‘Amazing’ and ‘Wow’ are some of the comments coming back to us. And many of you write that the series is far better than Harry Potter. The author finds this very flattering, but wants to point out that it’s not a competition. Harry is Harry and David is David. Both series are just there to be enjoyed.

Finally, one last anecdote about winter. When he was a boy, winter was the author’s favourite season. He didn’t have a car back then, but he did have a sledge. He also had a large Alsatian dog called Bruce. One snowy day, he got the idea to attach a rope to Bruce’s collar and tie it to the sledge as well. He then sat on the sledge and cried, “Mush!” ‘Mush’ is a command that (white) people who drive husky dog teams are said to use. It had no effect on Bruce whatsoever. The dog wouldn’t even chase after a tennis ball. However, when the next door neighbour’s cat decided to cross the street, Bruce took off like a startled ferret. It should have been a thrilling ride, but though the sledge moved, the author didn’t. He simply slid off backwards into a gutter full of snow and ended up with a frozen bottom. You don’t want to know about the chilblains he got when he tried to warm up in front of the gas fire (he didn’t have us dragons to help him then). If you don’t know what a chilblain is, ask your mum and dad! Until next time, happy reading. Hrrr!

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