Tag Archives: Fidra


Going back to my horsey past now. Not that I was ever horsey, except in my mind, but that’s as good a place for a horse as any. At least as long as they are imaginary. The real kind would be really mind-stretching.

I’ve been on a horse a few times, but it’s not something I care to repeat. Whereas reading about girls – and even boys – and horses is fine. Lovely, in fact.

K M Peyton, Fly-by-Night

This has been a K M Peyton sort of week, hasn’t it? Known to me as a horse book author it was wrong to start off with a whodunnit, apart from the handy fact that it was one I had already. Suspecting it wouldn’t be enough for a face to face meeting with Kathleen herself, I hurriedly asked Fidra books in Edinburgh if they could send me Fly-by-Night to read before the big day. They could. They re-publish old favourites, and K M Peyton books fall into that category. This one even has illustrations by the author, which feels just right. Also quite 1960s.

I am so glad I didn’t read this book as a child. It would have made me want to come to England a lot more than I already did. And it’s funny, because coming from where I am now, I see this book in two lights. One is the romanticised view of everything English from back then, and the other is simply an older version of what the country is like today, if that makes sense?

Ruth Hollis badly wants a pony, and now that her family have moved to the country, she goes out to buy one. Only, they cost more than she had expected. So does the saddle and all the bits and pieces, not to mention the food. But determination is a wonderful thing. After which ‘all’ Ruth needs to do is learn to ride…

This is a horse book. Naturally she gets there in the end, but before that she has to be one plucky girl.

There are more books about Ruth, so maybe I don’t need to say this, but one character I would have liked to see more of is Ron, friend of her brother’s. And I gather there will be a connection to Jonathan from my book last week, so that’s nice. I like it when things tie up.

Here’s to more horse books!


B is for Bookwitch

When I looked in the mirror last night, my face was as purple as my clothes. If you ask Julie Bertagna, she’ll say it’s the effect of the cold Edinburgh weather. But at the very least you can say I matched my clothes, and I’m all for colour co-ordinating. I started the day with popping along to The Children’s Bookshop to meet Vanessa who was in the throes of getting ready for Neil Gaiman, and a few hundred fans. She still had time to take me to the bank(?), give me tea, back to the bank (at least it was warm in there), and she knows her Gudrun Sjödén clothes when she sees them.

Then it was on to Son’s flat for some warming soup and general admiration of household skills and all that.

After which Son and I set off for the boutique hotel Neil was staying in (I so want to be a bestselling author, but only in some respects), where they offer you drinks as soon as you sink into the comfy armchairs in reception. Son ordered tap water, hoping that would be free of charge, so I’ve brought him up well. Julie Bertagna joined us, by design, rather than by accident, and it was really good to meet her after talking on blogs for so long.

Bonham meeting room

Soon the biker gang turned up as well, and that was the Gaiman entourage, safely back from another event. The lovely Ian from Bloomsbury ushered us into a meeting room, with purple chairs, and Julie and I interviewed Neil while Son snapped. And boutique hotels are capable of good tea, I can tell you. The chat went well, and the results may turn up here in due course.

After so much excitement, Julie and I staggered off to collapse in peace and quiet, first sending Son on his way to his other job. Julie is good at finding Italian restaurants, and we had a wonderful dinner. (The toilets in this place gives you lessons in Italian…)

Braving the Edinburgh buses in the rush hour and in the dark, we made our way to the Church Hill Theatre where Neil was doing his rock concert thing. It’s the only way to describe it. I have never seen that kind of reception of a writer anywhere. The audience was mainly student age fans, with a few children and some “normal” people, and they loved Neil.

Neil Gaiman signing How could you not love him? The man must have been feeling shattered with all that travelling and all the talks and interviews, but you couldn’t tell. He was calm and funny and entertaining. Neil read us a whole chapter of The Graveyard Book, the one about the Dance Macabre. I just may have to re-read the book. Soon.

The queue for signing was LONG. I don’t want to think how many hours it will have lasted. Julie and I disappeared after a while, to catch our trains home. And Julie, witches know their Dundee trains from their Perth trains!