Monday, 20 September 2010
Guest: Carol Hunt - author of The Portland Sea Dragon
Please welcome Carol Hunt, author of the children's adventure story The Portland Sea Dragon, Published by Roving Press.
There's a sea dragon flying over Portland Dorset - a bad omen.When the dragon is accused of murder after the unexplained disappearence of Sally Lucke in 1616, only Isabel in 2011 can solve the mystery. So she sets out on a time travelling adventure. Along the way her cool friend Ben, annoying little sister Suzy, and Gregor, a scruffy collie dog with attitude, both help and hinder Isabel's search.
1. What inspired you to write The Portland Sea Dragon?
I moved to Portland in 2005. We lived on the West Cliffs of Portland, close to the sheer cliffs and in the path of howling gales. I was trying in some ways to make sense of our new life and find a feeling of belonging, but was also intrigued by Portland and its myths, legends and history. As well as this, the children encouraged me to write something about a dragon, based on stories I told them at bedtime. The dragon became very symbolic to me, both of our isolation at the time and of Portland itself.
2. How does a Sea Dragon differ from an ordinary Dragon?
My sea dragon is a peaceful creature, not as fiery as an ordinary dragon, and much misunderstood; a creature so ancient that it's difficult to grasp what he really is or how he thinks and feels. He also represents a quest for 12 year old Isabel, my main character, to find out more about herself and her family, as the sea dragon is accused of a murder that impacted on her 17th century family history.
3. Or a Sea Serpent?
In an interesting piece of synchronicity, the launch of The Portland Sea Dragon coincided with the discovery of the remains of a pliosaur, an ancient sea monster/serpent. Dragons and serpents are heavy with symbolism, which makes them fascinating to read and write about. I especially like the connection between the dragon and the rainbow, both of which are said to connect the earth to the heavens.
4. Roving Press normally publish local interest non fiction. How did you persuade them to add children's fiction to their list?
There's a lot of local history (smugglers, witches) as well as contemporary Portland places in The Portland Sea Dragon. Roving Press are also publishing further local interest/children's fiction titles soon.
5. Could you tell us about your journey to publication?
I finished writing The Portland Sea Dragon by summer 2009, and had written most of 3 further Portland Chronicles. I always felt that Portland itself was one of the most important 'characters' in my story and that a local publisher was exactly what I was looking for. I dreamed of seeing the book in the hands of local children, who had inspired my story. I bought a copy of The Spirit of Portland by Gary Biltcliffe and realised that Roving Press, the publisher, was taking a new approach to local interest books. I emailed the first 3 chapters to them with a synopsis and luckily Tim and Julie Musk liked it!
6. So there is another book on its way. Can you tell us a bit about it?
My next book is called Enchantment of the Black Dog and will be launched for Christmas. Domini Deane, the local artist, is currently working on the artwork for the cover and map. It follows the adventures of Isabel as she travels back to the Civil War era (1642) and introduces new characters such as Ryder the surf dude and Rainbow the Southwell fairy.
7. What piece of advice would you give to the aspiring writer?
I think it's important to write something you're passionate about. Then let your potential audience read it and tell you what you need to do to improve your work. Children are great critics! Improving your work takes commitment and time; it took 3 years to write and re-write The Portland Sea Dragon.
8. Where can we find out more about you and your dragon?
I am on the Roving Press website at rovingpress.co.uk/PortlandSeaDragon and I also write a blog at carolhunt.blogspot.com, as well as two Facebook pages (one for Carol Hunt and one for The Portland Sea Dragon).
Thank you Carol, for stopping by and answering my questions.