Sunday, 26 June 2011

This week's word is: NESS

Hello dragon fans. Once again I've given Zookie some time off because he's working on a particularly difficult part of The Fire Ascending i.e. the bit about two thirds of the way through where I always get stuck and start to think this is the worst thing I've ever written in my life! I got to this stage last week. Don't worry, it always happens and he always gets me out of it. Then it's usually plain sailing to the end of the book. We'll keep you posted.

I've chosen 'Ness' as this week's word for three reasons. They're all to do with authorship in a strange way and I'll take them in the chronological order they occurred. The first Ness is Eliot Ness, the famous FBI man who was around during the prohibition era in America in the 1920s and 30s. Prohibition was all to do with the strict regulations on the manufacture and distribution of alcohol. Ness led a team of men known as 'The Untouchables' who enforced these regulations. He was most famous for bringing down the gangster Al Capone. I was fascinated by gangsters when I was a boy and did a project about Ness and his team for a school English assignment. My English teacher was stunned. No one in his classes had ever done a study on illegal alcohol distilleries, let alone talked about it for ten minutes solid! I was given top marks, even though my presentation wasn't very good. I never thought I'd be able to credit Al Capone with getting me an A* rating.

The second Ness is everybody's favourite Scottish monster. I've always wanted to go to Loch Ness because I have this faint hope that I might spot 'Nessie'. Not that I'd take a photo if I did. If she's there, I'd rather she stay there undisturbed. I like to think I'd just wave and smile and write about it in a fictional story. I did have to write about Nessie once. When I was a Biology undergraduate my supervisor set me a peculiar essay. I had to prove that the Loch Ness monster existed! Erm... He let me bluster and panic for about 10 minutes before telling me the way to go about it was to read up on the flora and fauna of the Loch and determine whether the ecosystem there could support a 'monster' of the size reported. I believe I came to the conclusion that it could. It was a long time ago now, but I never forgot that moment and used it, of course, as the basis for Icefire. Anyone remember Dr Bergstrom setting an essay for David about whether dragons existed or not...? That's where it came from.

And lastly, I'd like to offer my congratulations to the author Patrick Ness, who this week won the Carnegie Medal for his book 'Monsters of Men', the third part of his 'Chaos Walking' trilogy. I'm often asked by fans to recommend books and I usually point them in the direction of Philip Reeve's brilliant Mortal Engines series. Patrick Ness's is just as good, but more for young adults as it's quite violent in places. 'The Knife of Never Letting Go' was the first of the three, followed by 'The Ask and the Answer' and 'Monsters of Men'. Enjoy. Until next time, happy reading. Hrrr!

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