Sunday, 20 February 2011

This week's word is: SWEETS

Hello, dragon fans. First a quick update: all of you with eBook readers will be pleased to hear that the chronicles are available for download at last. We seem to have been waiting ages for them, but you can now get the first five novels from a variety of places online, such as Waterstones, WH Smith and Amazon. Fire World will be available later in the year.
A bit of eastern joy for the author this week when a letter dropped through the door informing us that the chronicles, all six of them (so far), are going to be published in Turkey. Hrrr! It’s commonplace for humans to use the phrase ‘Turkish Delight’ when referring to good news about this country, but the other dragons in the den are concerned that the publisher might start sending us lots of the sweets which go by that name if we do (ahem) – in much the same way that fans of The Beatles sent them truck loads of jelly babies when they confessed to liking those sweets back in the sixties. Mrs Author has just said that she’s been trying for years to track down a violet-flavoured variety that someone allegedly brought back from a holiday in Turkey. She thinks she must have been imagining it and the violet flavour doesn’t really exist, unless our Turkish publisher knows otherwise…
As it's been a quiet week in Wayward Crescent, let me tell you a little story about sweets. Once, during a question and answer session, someone asked the author if he thought he had anything in common with the much-loved writer Roald Dahl. He initially replied, “We’re both tall, suffer from a bad back and are occasionally bad-tempered” which was not really in the spirit of the question. So I poked him with my isoscele and wrote ‘SWEETS’ on my pad. “Oh, yes,” the author said, “and we both liked sweets.” This began a long talk about ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, the sweet names Roald Dahl had invented and what the author’s favourite sweets were. Needless to say, we couldn’t shut him up after that. It transpired that he liked LOTS of sweets, including fruit gums, liquorice torpedos and fruit & nut chocolate, but his favourites were something called Sports Mixtures. Anyone who doesn’t live in England will probably be wondering what these things are. I will explain. Sports Mixtures are like wine gums (chewy, gelatinous things – very bad for your teeth) but made in sporting shapes, e.g. Tennis rackets, soccer boots or cricket bats. I know. Bizarre, isn’t it? Our hero ate hundreds of them when he was a boy and still eats them now. (Mrs Author is shaking her head in despair.) Anyway, he told the audience a nice anecdote about a sweet shop he used to visit on his way to school in the mornings. Every day he would go into this shop and buy four Sports Mixtures for the price of one old British penny. You have to think back to the days before the internet and mobile phones for this. It was a looong time ago. This practice went on for many months: visit the shop, hand over a penny, obtain four sweets. Then one day a sign went up on the shop to say it was being sold. The author was devastated. His beloved sweet supply. Cut off. On the day the shop shut down, he was terribly deflated but went in to buy his four Sports Mixtures as usual. He said, "Would it be all right if I had four black ones today?" (The black ones were liquorice-flavoured and his favourites.) The shop owner shook his head. He said, “I’m not going to sell you four Sports Mixtures today.” The author’s face dropped. No Sports Mixtures? Today, of all days? Then the shopkeeper did something very kind. He reached under the counter, brought out the box in which he kept the Sports Mixtures and handed what was left in the box to the author (about 70 sweets in total). You can imagine how goggle-eyed the author was. As he turned to the door with his haul the shopkeeper said, “Oi, aren’t you forgetting something?” He held out his hand. “I still want your penny.” The author gratefully handed it over. The shopkeeper put it into a charity box. “We’ll let the dogs’ home have that one,” he said. And that was that. The author went on his way. But the important thing for all you writers to note is this: he said to the audience listening to the story, “That will end up in a book one day...” Or on a dragon’s blog! Till next time. Happy reading. Hrrr!

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