Hello dragon fans. Hurrah! He's back. The author has finally emerged from under his tea towel. After three weeks' inhaling Gretel's eucalyptus-based potions, I am at last able to leave him making a nuisance of himself in Mrs Author's garden (he just got told off for cutting down a clematis he thought was dead!) and get back to the blog. The reason the word is 'willow' by the way, is because the dragons have been trying to come up with a suitable description of the colour of the gunk our hero has been blowing out of his sinuses all this time. It's like inventing a new paint chart. We tried 'Fern Splendour' and 'Wistful Leaf' and Gruffen came up with 'Dragon Splodge', which we all agreed was best - until Gretel frowned at us. Then Gwendolen suggested 'Willow Memories' (< this is the actual colour of the stuff from his nose!!). And Gretel liked it. And that was that.
He has been properly poorly, though. The worst of it is, he's not been bad enough to stay in bed for a week, though he probably should have done - in fact he had several school visits planned (from way back) and he made them all, just. But he has found it hard to write. The concentration required to work out the messages I normally leave for him on my pad has been tiring him out. So we had to take it steady while he was ill. As a result, the manuscript of FIRE WORLD is still in progress. But we are now at the epilogue and we're very, very happy with it. The first draft will be finished by the end of next week. I said a couple of weeks ago I might tease you with some of the character names. So, without giving anything away, we have David (no surprises there), Eliza (mmm, remind you of anyone?), Penny (that's surely new - or is it?), Rosa (my favourite character), Harlan (who plays a major role) and Mathew (who prefers to be called Mat). Let me give you a clue that will drive you nuts. ALL these characters have appeared in the other books. Now, work that one out! And while you're about it, who - or what - are Aurielle, Aleron and Azkiar? And the biggest teaser of all: where does the mysterious character Agawin fit in...? By the way, the wonderful Angelo Rinaldi is working on roughs of the front cover. This is very exciting. As soon as I have permission from the author to show you something, I will.
One or two of you have been asking about the competition to see your name in print in the book. We still don't know any details yet, but I've made a note on my pad for the author to speak to his editor about it this week. I have worked out in which part of the book the winner's name will go. But no clues yet.
News on RAIN & FIRE, Mrs Author's guidebook to the series. She has applied the finishing touches to the manuscript and it is on its way to the printer. The very last thing we saw this week were some black and white line drawings to accompany the text. Remember we asked some time ago which scenes you'd like to see illustrated? Well, the biggest request by far was for the nine ice bears sitting on their pillars of ice (from Icefire). So you've got that and it's brilliant. There is also one of Grockle chained up in the stable block (from Fire Star) and one of Lucy being challenged by Gawaine (from Dark Fire). If the author can get permission to show an example we might put it up on the blog next week.
And finally, the World Cup. Groan! We all sat around the TV while the author was ill expecting to see great things from England. Watching their performances only made him worse! We were disappointed that the USA, Japan and Australia went out too because we have lots of fans there. So we are now supporting Germany! Not because we don't like the other teams, we do. But yesterday, the author took pity on his long time neighbour Alexander, who is from Germany and is a football fan, but who does not have a TV. Generously, he invited Alexander in to watch his national team play (and beat) Argentina. This is the true spirit of football, even though the argument about whether the ball crossed the line in 1966 was raised twice! We thought the Germans were brilliant. We had to work really hard at staying solid while we watched the match. So good luck Germany - and Holland, Spain and Uruguay. May the best team - on the day - win. Happy reading everyone. Hrrr!