Tag Archives: Ruth Eastham

The Warrior in the Mist

When your future is threatened by the fracking about to be let lose on the land where you live, the obvious thing is to look for the tomb of Boudicca, in the hopes that finding it will stop the drilling. It’s the kind of thing one would expect from the kind of teenagers Ruth Eastham puts in her books, and The Warrior in the Mist is no exception.

Ruth Eastham, The Warrior in the Mist

If not stopped, then Aidan will have to move away, and ‘his’ beloved horse Centurion will most likely be sold, which would be another loss after the death of his mother.

What I like in Ruth’s stories is that the young people who end up doing what they have to do, are so nice. By which I mean there is none of the hostile quarrels or scheming that so often goes with groups of teenagers. These young people simply get on with what has to be done. And in this book it’s finding Boudicca and her two daughters.

Can’t be too hard, can it?

It seems that Aidan and Emmi and Jon have paid attention in school, as they at least know what to look for.

Is Boudicca fashionable? I ask, because I sense I have come across her more frequently in the last year or so. Or maybe she’s always been a good historical character to put in your story.

As always, it pays to be wary of people. You just never know who will be the bad guy. And having your own drone is really quite useful.

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The Jaguar Trials

Do young people still know about El Dorado? I mean, not that there is anything to know, because El Dorado isn’t real. I think.

Ruth Eastham, The Jaguar Trials

Ruth Eastham’s latest book, The Jaguar Trials, is about Ben and his adventuring archeologist father, who are trying to find this golden dream. And when something goes wrong, Ben has to see if he can find El Dorado in order to save his dad.

With the help of Rafael and local Amazon girl Yara, Ben rides white water rapids and traipses through the hot and sweaty jungle, full of dangers. (And it’s not always the snakes that are the worst…)

There is a baddie. Naturally. There is a beautiful black jaguar. And there is a shaman, and plenty of things you can’t explain. Ben appears to be the chosen one, which is why he needs to pass the Jaguar Trials, in the hope of finding El Dorado.

I wasn’t sure how Ruth would deal with this. It’s a children’s adventure story, so by rights they need to find El Dorado. But it doesn’t exist, in the first place, and in the second place it wouldn’t do to find it anyway. But she uses her magic to make us believe. Well, not me, obviously, because El Dorado doesn’t ex…

Ben is a brave boy, and all three children are resourceful. And I’m glad I’m not the one in that jungle looking for a place that doesn’t exist.

The #17 profile – Ruth Eastham

I like Ruth Eastham. I like her books, too, and now she has a new one out – The Jaguar Trials – which I’ve not yet had time to read. So while you wait to hear more about that, you can see what Ruth had to say in reply to my author profile questions. She definitely wins the prize for most succinct and to the point answers!!! Very efficient.

Ruth Eastham

‘How many books did you write before the one that was your first published book?

Two, including this one:

Ruth Eastham, The Good Fairy

Best place for inspiration?

Anywhere with a view of the sea.

Would you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Perhaps you already do?

Yes. No.

What would you never write about?

Never say never!

Through your writing: the most unexpected person you’ve met, or the most unexpected place you’ve ended up in?

Mackerel fishing on a boat to Skomer Island.

Which of your characters would you most like to be?

Yara from The Jaguar Trials.

Do you think that having a film made of one of your books would be a good or a bad thing?

Good!

What is the strangest question you’ve been asked at an event?

Did you arrive by private jet then?!

Do you have any unexpected skills?

Gecko spotting.

The Famous Five or Narnia?

Narnia.

Who is your most favourite Swede?

Author Henning Mankell.

How do you arrange your books at home? In a Billy? By colour, or alphabetically?

By type.

Which book would you put in the hands of an unwilling eight-year-old boy reader?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

If you have to choose between reading or writing, which would it be?

Writing.’

I’d not be surprised if Ruth really jetted in on a private plane. More surprised about the geckos. And that very early book The Good Fairy looks quite promising…

Arrowhead

Ruth Eastham’s Arrowhead begins with some pretty un-Norwegianlike behaviour among a group of school children in the north of Norway. But that’s OK, because they have a reason for it. They are not quite themselves.

Ruth Eastham, Arrowhead

The book’s hero, Jack, is Norwegian, but brought up in England, so counts as an outsider. He’s not the only hero; there is Tor, who is a dead viking, and Jack’s present day allies Skuli and Emma. They live in Isdal, which is as cold as it sounds, despite it being summer (sort of). And everything is a bit odd. No one behaves as you’d expect, apart from Skuli and Jack, and we soon find out why.

Arrowhead is another rewriting – or fantasy – based on Norse mythology and other old stuff. I noticed Beowulf in there. Odin obviously turns up, the way he tends to do.

In the end it’s up to the three live heroes and the dead one to work on setting Isdal – and the world – right. Can they do it?

Ruth has got most of her Norwegian facts sorted out. Even the local mountain has a good name. And people eat waffles in the town’s café. (That really impressed me, until I found out that some witch had had a say in that. But they should eat waffles.)

Very exciting adventure, and one I reckon would make an excellent film. I could see it as I read. The arrows. The fire. The fighting.

Brilliant Books, again

And again, probably. This is looking good. Oldham libraries have hit on a successful pattern for their Brilliant Books awards ceremony.

Brilliant Books 2013

Although Ruth Eastham and Caryl Hart might want to pull out soon if they keep winning and keep getting these fantastic mosaic prizes. They’ll need to move to bigger houses before long.

As for me, I will have to stick to setting out early for events, and not try brave new ideas like not getting the train before the one I actually got. But I got there. In time. ‘My’ table was taken, but I got a good one precisely where I like to sit. At the back. I discovered later that ‘my’ table had The Worshipful the Mayor of Oldham sitting at it, so I suppose that was an opportunity missed.

This year Brilliant Books invited all shortlisted authors, and twelve of them were able to come, which is brilliant! And none of the winners knew in advance. Or so they claimed. Ruth Eastham came up and chatted to me before proceedings began, and she seemed to have no inkling she was about to carry more mosaic back to Italy. Again.

Like last year, they had invited children from the schools involved, and they helped by reading out the nominations and announcing the winners. In between that, each book was briefly dramatised and acted out by Oldham Coliseum’s Young Rep Company. Really well done!

Oldham Coliseum's Young Rep Company

It seems I no longer need to be escorted by Librarian Snape as Oldham’s defense against the dark blogs. We agreed we missed each other…

Mayor of Oldham

Super organiser Andrea Ellison introduced Chris Hill who introduced the Mayor, who spoke of his pleasure at being asked for his autograph with no competition from Bob the Builder. The Mayor in turn handed over to the host, Dave Whalley, who never gets to sign anything but expenses claims.

Roving Richard (Hall) refused to rove if he didn’t get applause, so we gave him some. He roved throughout the evening, pestering authors and children alike, making them squirm. Great stuff!

Thomas Taylor

The Early Years category winner was Thomas Taylor (and his ‘cool cat’ friend, illustrator Adrian Reynolds), for The Pets You Get. Thomas thanked absolutely everyone for his prize.

Dave lost the plot quite early, and needed Roving Richard to chat to people while he found where he was meant to be. KS1, Dave! Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton and their book The Princess and the Peas won, and they spoke about how they work together. Caryl admitted that sometimes reading can be boring (!) and Sarah told the audience to continue to ‘read and draw.’

Caroline Green and Ruth Eastham

By the time Ruth found out she had won KS2 for The Messenger Bird, Dave had worked out how to keep everything in order. Ruth said she’d been telling everyone about how brilliant it is in Oldham and that they must come.

Oldham Coliseum's Young Rep Company

We took a break from awarding mosaics and watched the Young Rep Company’s dramatised version of shortlisted book My Friend Nigel by Jo Hodgkinson.

Gina Blaxill

KS3 winner, Gina Blaxill, was 90% certain she wasn’t going to win, but Forget Me Never came out on top, which made Gina especially happy, since she had been worried about second book syndrome.

Richard roved over to table five where he asked Helen Stephens what it’s like to see your own book in bookshops. He had just noticed her How to Hide a Lion in Tesco, and since he’s not written a book himself, he wanted to know. (It’s exciting.) The young readers continued being hard to interview…

Someone Else’s Life by Katie Dale won KS4, and she brought her mother along, just like when she won in Stockport four weeks ago. She might be unstoppable. Katie mentioned the weird and wonderful characters she’s met, and I rather hope she didn’t mean me.

Brilliant Books 2013

Our host complimented the children on how quietly they had gone to the toilet, and then Andrea went and made them parade around the room very noisily, while someone called Justine sang a song and all the authors stood on stage, clutching mosaics, or not.

Brilliant Books 2013

Then it was signing time and the authors went and sat in line, while children and adults shopped, or simply brought their programmes to be autographed. I walked diligently up and down the line several times to make sure I caught all of them with my camera. Don’t they look fantastic?

Rachel Bright

Caroline Green

Helen Stephens

Katie Dale

Gill Lewis

Matt Dickinson

Caryl Hart

Sarah Warburton

Will Buckingham

Thomas Taylor

And then I went and called my nine 0’clock pumpkin. It’s fascinating how the drive home can be achieved in the same amount of time I spent walking from the tram stop to the Queen Elizabeth Hall…

Bookwitch bites #116

I am really grateful to the kind people of Wexford, Ireland, for arranging somewhere I could park my broom the other night. (Not that I have actually been to Wexford, but its proximity to Eoin Colfer makes it seem like a very nice place. That, and the broom parking.)

Broom parking

So, I’m resting a little. No flying while it’s windy. Besides, you can’t trust people not to be setting off fireworks at the moment. And that is very dangerous for witches on brooms. For others, too, but I am mostly looking after me.

We can’t all be like that lovely man, Terry Pratchett, who is a wee bit more modest than he needs to be.

Terry Pratchett

And so was the poor woman in Ystad who was locked into the library. 91-year-old Dagmar sat comfortably reading something, as you do, when it was time to close and staff claim to have ‘looked’ but seem to have missed Dagmar, so set the alarm, locked up and went home for the weekend. (It was Friday the 13th.) When eventually Dagmar moved, she set off the alarm, and someone came to find her, and even let her out. And being 91 and polite, she apologised for having caused trouble…

But you already knew that Ystad is a dangerous town. Just ask Wallander. Bet he’s never been locked in a library, though.

Locked in, is something we connect with Al Capone, among other things. Gennifer Choldenko’s third Alcatraz book Al Capone Does My Homework, is already out in the US, but the rest of us have to wait a while. Sob.

Gennifer Choldenko, Al Capone Does My Homework

And I can just sense that you like being told about books you can’t buy yet, so I’ll show you the cover of Ruth Eastham’s to-be-published third novel, Arrowhead. Like Al Capone, it will come. One day.

Ruth Eastham, Arrowhead

As I go to pick up my broom, I will leave you in the capable hands of Meg Rosoff. Although, considering what she can do to a piece of paper with a pair of scissors, I’m not so sure about those hands. If I think about it.

Wheee!!!

Launching Shine

The custard creams made all the difference. They and the Coke. Halfway through the launch party for Candy Gourlay’s new book Shine, I was overcome by an urge to liberate ‘a few’ custard creams. They were looking lonely, sitting on a table at Archway Library. That sugar rush kept me going all night, more or less.

Archway Library

I arrived just in time for The Three Hundred Word Challenge. Candy read out as many entries as there was time for, and her collected authors pitched in with their thoughts. The advice was good. The fledgling stories were even better. It’s reassuring to find that young people still want to write, and that they know how.

Teri Terry, Candy Gourlay and Jane McLoughlin

While this was going on in front of an audience so numerous they ran out of chairs, people went about their business in the library, and there was a nice mix of festival special and ordinary library behaviour. (It was the first day of the first Archway With Words Festival.) The authors couldn’t always agree on their advice, which should go a long way to proving that there is no one correct way to write. (I thought they were going to come to blows. Which would have been exciting.)

Random's Clare, Simon Mason, Philippa Dickinson and Keren David

Once it was time for the launch proper, I had a job recognising people without the customary name badges. I managed some. I was discovered in my corner by Random’s Clare, who was almost on her own doorstep for this event.

There were speeches. MDs Philippa Dickinson and Simon Mason came. David Fickling, on the other hand, did not. Replacing him, Philippa and Bella Pearson spoke, but they couldn’t quite manage David’s voice, so Candy had to help out.

Candy Gourlay with Philippa Dickinson and Bella Pearson

In her own speech, Candy told us of the long hard slog to get there. What’s three years between friends? Bella went on maternity leave, and came back. Candy said nice things about her editor Simon, even after he told her that her first attempt was no repair job.

Candy’s daughter Mia and friends sang a cappella. Absolutely lovely.

Candy Gourlay at Archway Library

Dave Cousins

We mingled. There were more authors than you could shake a stick at. (Not that I’d want to, I hasten to add.) Fiona Dunbar and I met where we always seem to meet. I met several facebook friends for real. (They exist!) Teri Terry was surrounded by young fans. Dave Cousins came.I recognised Jane McLoughlin but took ages to work out who she was. Missed Joe Friedman. Ruth Eastham was over from Italy, which was very nice. She introduced me to Sarah Mussi, whose book I just ‘happened’ to be reading, so I hauled it out for an autograph. (Very scary. The book. Not so much Sarah.)

Sarah McIntyre

The other Sarah (McIntyre) also ended up signing stuff, although not for me. Keren David said hello, and then goodbye. I chatted to Inbali Iserles and Savita Kalhan. I spoke to people I have emailed with, and to people I haven’t. Sam Hepburn.

Steve Hartley

And then Mr Gourlay went round saying it was time to go home. So we did. To the Gourley home, where the eldest junior Gourlay was looking after food and drink. There was a lot of it.

The Gourlays

They have the loveliest of gardens! Admittedly it was dark, but it was all lit up and the evening was balmy, and there was somewhere to sit. Not the trampoline for me. Spoke to DFB basement man Simon, and the kind Tilda who once bought me a sandwich. At some point I had to admit to a fondness for the Circle Line. (Yeah, well.)

The wine flowed (the recycling men were most impressed with the bottle collection the next morning) and there was cheese beginning with the letter c, and for the carnivores pork sausages on the barbecue, very ably operated by Mr G.

It was dark. As I said. So I gave up on the camera and simply enjoyed, which is why there are no scandalous shots of anyone. I think the man who hugged me before he left long past midnight might have been Cliff McNish, despite him being underwhelmed by my drinking.

Recommended crime to beautiful blonde, who was impressed with my recent meeting with Colin Bateman… When it got too cold we repaired to the inner regions. In the end most people went home, and Candy was left with a mere five houseguests. Eldest son politely gave up his bed for an old witch, and was banished to his godmother’s ‘vomiting room.’

In the morning I got up long after the six o’clock taxi guest had departed, and people had dispersed to school and jobs and things. I met my brand newest facebook friend (less than 24 hours) in her pyjamas. And then Candy made us breakfast and we gossiped about the great and the famous.

But I had a noon train to catch, so shouldered my nightie and toothbrush and walked up the hill to the tube station hidden in mist. Once I got to Euston I encountered the Poet Laureate on the escalators, going the opposite way. Bought some treats for the Resident IT Consultant to celebrate our first 31 years, and hopped on my train.

Tired library visitor

(I know how that doll feels.)