I’m Danny Weston’s favourite bookwitch. Or so he says alongside his signature in Scarecrow. And I can sort of understand it, and maybe he did have me in mind when writing. There is a witch, there is an Annie, and a Giles. All good decent names, even if Giles is a baddie.
After I sent Danny the questions below, however, I might be only his second favourite bookwitch. Flattery will get him nowhere! But I just had to learn more about scarecrows. Over to Danny:
So, what do you know about scarecrows? And what’s this about bull’s blood?
I know that scarecrows have been around for a very long time – and that in the ancient days, they were there to do more than just scare birds. They were meant to protect families from harm. And the consecration of the harvest using bull’s blood is a tradition that goes back to pagan times. I always do quite a lot of reading before I embark on writing a story.
Do you think it’s wise to encourage young readers to approach and talk to, even confess to, just any strange scarecrow they happen to meet?
Why not? The truth is that scarecrows are very good listeners. Of course, people think that because they’re made of straw, they don’t actually take anything in. In my story, I suggest that they don’t miss very much at all.
Speaking of young readers, did you choose the worthy route of whistle-blowing to educate them about this kind of thing, or to steer clear of sleazier crimes? Although, it does get quite dirty and dangerous later on.
Whistle-blowing seems to be increasingly common in these troubled times. I’m fascinated by the way it divides opinion. Look at Edward Snowden, for instance. Many people say he’s a traitor who has endangered the security of his country. Others argue that he’s a hero, a man banished from his homeland because he told the truth. I’ve always believed in telling the truth and I hate the fact that I now live in a world where such a practice is often discouraged.
Philbert has an astounding vocabulary for someone leading such an isolated life, in a lonely field. How do you explain this? He also seems to know what he doesn’t know, something lots of humans actually fail at.
Well, don’t forget that a scarecrow takes on all the wisdom and experience of the person that creates them. Unfortunately for Philbert, he has also taken on the anger of the woman who made him – a woman dying of a dreadful illness. Consequently, he can have a very short fuse…
Finally, I can’t help but notice that your books are moving north with every new story. Dare I hope that they will continue to do so, and that they’ll soon be at a safe distance somewhere like the North Pole? It’s just a polite request, you understand.
This is not an intentional device. It may have something to do with the fact that I have moved further North myself, from Manchester to Edinburgh. I’ve also fallen a little bit in love with Scotland and the more I visit different parts of it, the more I discover interesting settings for new stories. At the moment, I love Edinburgh, and have no plans to live elsewhere. But who knows what the future has in store?
I do. I’m now quite certain I will never feel safe here again. That man is bound to introduce some scary creature into a setting close to me. Bound to. And the North Pole such a lovely and distant place and all…