I’ve just returned from an excellent session with the Chatterbooks reading group of CLR James Library, in Hackney’s Dalston Lane. What a great group – and so full of fantastic questions! I spoke for about forty-five minutes but the time flew past so quickly that I only had time for one reading! My thanks to Kerryn and everyone else I met at CLR James for what was a lovely warm welcome. I hope you got something out of listening to me – I certainly enjoyed speaking to you. 🙂

Speaking of questions, it’s high time I tackled at least a couple of last week’s ones from the Guestbooks. Here we go…

From the Black Tat site, Robert and Adam from Newcastle ask ‘How many books do u plan to write?‘ That’s an easy one so let’s begin with that. I’m just starting out on this ‘being published’ caper, and I have a whole slew of story ideas bubbling and fermenting in the depths of my slurry-like brain. I can’t tell you them here, as I haven’t written them yet! But they’re all for young people, they’re all (if I can pull them off) pretty flippin’ exciting (if I may say so!), and I’m looking forward to having the chance to write each and every one of them. -So, the short answer about how many books I plan to write is… ‘As many as I can get away with!

Again on a Black Tat tip, Sean from Cramlington asked a question that the WebSphinx and I had to xxx out, as it contained a potential SPOILER, revealing one of the secrets of the book (sorry, Sean! Hope you understand!) It’s a straight question, however, and deserves a straight answer, so if you, reading this, haven’t read Black Tat yet and don’t want to know one of the story’s key secrets, SCROLL DOWN NOW!


Sean asks, ‘Why did you make Esme the Scourge’s daughter?’ -The main reason, Sean, was to do with SUSPENSE. Esme is a very powerful character: she’s strong, she’s tough, she’s independent, she’s quick-witted and (oh yeah!) she’s got superpowers. In most situations she’s nigh-on unstoppable. So in order to bring the story to a climax that would put her in real danger, I (or, heh! /the Enthoven/-!) had to come up with something a bit more sophisticated and involved than just another face-off with a demon. Having Esme’s strength, her speed and her flying all come from the Scourge seemed to me to be the best possible answer. The source of her power is the very thing she’s trained her whole life to fight! However strong or fast she is, the Scourge will always be faster! If she is to beat her nemesis Esme will have to find another way, one she can only find in herself. And that, to me, seemed like a proper test for her – one that most people can relate to, I hope.

In practice, hints are dropped about Esme’s parentage throughout the book – almost from the first page in fact! And having one’s father be the villain has always been a classic story element (even before Star Wars!) The revelation, when it comes, is supposed to be one you’ve pretty much guessed already, so I don’t think anyone who reads this post accidentally is going to have the story ruined for them or anything. But I thought in answering this question that I’d better be a bit careful. Hope you’re ok with that, Sean!


…Okay, all clear! 😉

There’s quite a stack of questions in the TIM Guestbook right now. My apologies for not getting to those today, time’s a bit short, but I’ll try to tackle ’em later in the week – I promise! 😉

In other news, yesterday (4th Feb) was the birthday of one of my very favourite authors, namely the awesome RUSSELL HOBAN. Here’s a link to The Head of Orpheus, a tremendous fan-site dedicated to the man and his works. Such is the devotion he inspires in his readers that some of them celebrate his birthday by picking out quotations from his books and leaving them in special places for people to find and (hopefully) discover about him. This now happens not just in London, where many of his books are set, but all over the world! [You can read all about that here.] And if you haven’t read anything by Russell Hoban yet, then I can hardly recommend him highly enough. His books are full of wit, warmth, wisdom and weirdness – the kind of stories you keep by you and treasure always. -Mr H., in case you’re reading this, I raise a tentacle in your general direction. You’re an inspiration! A very Happy Birthday to you!


Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. 😉