Final changes to Pirates

Made some drastic changes to the manuscript of Portland Pirates early yesterday morning and sent to Roving Press. I have changed the names of 3 main characters. The Pirates has quite a number of characters, including a pirate crew, Cap’n Red Pete, a cabin boy, not to mention a smuggler and the usual array of present day characters; Isabel, her naughty sister Suzie and Gregor the badly behaved dog from Groves Farm.

I am often asked if my characters are based on real people. Some characters are inspired more or less by people I have met, even briefly. Sometimes just a chance comment will also inspire a scene or help to rewrite an aspect of the plot. Not long ago I was talking to Wendy, who designs and creates peg dolls, and she described seeing an unusual cloud formation over Portland. The cloud was shaped like a dragon. Portland always seems to produce dragons. But it started me thinking about my time-travelling pirate ship and how the ship itself could appear in the clouds. It helped with a few plot difficulties, so thanks Wendy!

Radio Solent I enjoyed talking to Harry Crawford at the Big Dorset Brunch. Nice that he compared The Portland Chronicles to works by CS Lewis, Tolkien and JK Rowling!! But I guess it’s very true that youngsters like to read about fantasy, myth and legend. Even more so if the legends are drawn from a place they know well, or can visit. We discussed my pirate research and I mentioned Henry Strangways who hid his pirate loot at Portland Castle. I suppose the humour in some of my characters makes the Chronicles a little different. We also talked about how important young readers are at this stage of editing Portland Pirates. Their views are very important.

The Real Portland Sea Dragon

A skull belonging to one of the largest sea monsters ever found has recently gone on show at Dorset County Museum in Dorchester. The pliosaur lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods and was a terrifyingly huge creature, like an enormous crocodile. Scientist can estimate from the size of the skull that the creature would have been 15 to 18 metres long. The skull was found near Weymouth, Dorset, a few years ago.

Palaeontologist Richard Forrest said of the skull: “This is an iconic specimen – one of the most exciting we have seen in years. It was probably the most fearsome predator that ever lived. Standing in front of the skull you can imagine this enormous beast staring straight back at you, fixing you with its binocular vision, and attacking. Just thinking about it raises the hairs on the back of your neck.”

I have been following this story with great interest – my story The Portland Sea Dragon was inspired by a local legend, the Chesil Beach sea monster (the Veasta, as it is often called), and also by the real archaeological evidence of the pliosaur found nearby.