Local Authors’ Day – Imagine Bookshop

I’m looking forward to the Local Authors’ Day at Imagine Bookshop on Saturday. The shop has a very interesting collection of books and is a lovely environment to browse through classic novels as well as modern and illustrated stories; great for children and grown ups alike. Always good to see Gary Biltcliffe, author of Spirit of Portland, whose research on the history of Portland fascinates people. A great chance to meet other local authors too. http://www.imaginebookshops.com/Local-Authors–Day.html

Beginning the Island Giant

While Portland Pirates is with Julie at Roving Press, I’ve been experimenting with writing in other genres, such as drama and poetry. Drafted the 1st scenes of a screenplay version of The Portland Sea Dragon, to see how it would work. The dragon deserves a starring role! Main difficulty is conveying time changes/shifts into the past within the present day sequence of events. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of writing as if I’m watching the story unfold in the cinema. Have also been working on a poem that explores why I write and what inspires me, especially a sense of place.

Last night, after several uneasy nights dreaming of a future Portland landscape, I started work on the 4th book of the Portland Chronicles, The Island Giant. I wrote the 1st draft of this over 4 years ago and it doesn’t mesh with the 3 preceding stories, so I have decided to start afresh. Wrote about 3,000 words very late while a gale rattled the doors and shook the windows.

Portland Pirates Cover Design


Met today with Julie from Roving Press, who’s editing Portland Pirates at the moment, and Domini Deane, Bournemouth artist who’s producing the artwork. We talked about the colour scheme for the cover, which characters will appear, and how they will be represented. Domini already has sketches for the front and back covers, and produces the final artwork in watercolour, beginning with a colour wash for the background and building up the picture in layers of colour. I love the way she captures personality in the expressions of the characters. Portland Pirates is the Summer book of the series (The Portland Sea Dragon is winter, the Enchantment of the Black Dog is spring), so we are concentrating on vivid summer colours this time. We also worked on the map of Portland. Each book has a slightly different ‘take’ on the map. This one will feature a rock climber and some older place names featured in the story.

Giant at Cerne



Starting to look for the Giant of Book 4 in the Portland Chronicles. I went to Cerne Abbas to look at one of our local Dorset giants; something very grand about his image on the hill. The village is quiet but atmospheric, and the coaching inn has a mysterious atmosphere. I expected a highwayman to ride under the arch on a black horse. Cerne has a timeless quality. I wonder why giants are so intriguing, whether the stories of a race of giants have any meaning other than the mythical. While writing about the Black Dog, I confronted aspects of this myth over several dark winter months; writing can be a journey on many invisible levels. I am wondering where the Island Giant will begin. The Silver Well has wonderful light under the bright Lime trees, ribbons tied to the twigs for wishes.

Magical Light



The light at Church Ope is sometimes v magical, esp on a sunny Spring day. This early 18th century grave stone was in direct sunlight. The ‘pirate graves’ lit by a sweep of lime green trees.

The Map

I love looking at maps of Portland, especially old maps with place names now largely forgotten and specialist maps, such as those used for sailing and climbing. I spent some time recently looking at a map on display at Portland Museum, a copy from 1800 by Gilbert Steward that includes places called Thunderbolts Hole and Shepherds Dinner; fantastic names that evoke the history of Portland. I am currently working on the draft of a map to go with Portland Pirates. To my surprise, I find I’ve referred to 57 places/local features in the story and I am finding it difficult to work out which places to include and leave out.