I love receiving letters from readers – recently I heard from Chatterbooks at Sherborne Library and it was great to hear from them. They asked about why I chose to write stories set on Portland, why the first book is based on a sea monster and why do I write scary books??
Great questions! Here is the reply:-
I started writing The Portland Sea Dragon a year or two after moving to Portland. I found it such an intriguing place to live. Having grown up in Hampshire, I found it fascinating to live somewhere that had castles and a lighthouse, as well as a long and interesting history. My children were very young when I started writing; they would ask me to make up stories at bedtime about Portland, and from this point my stories and characters started to take on a life of their own.
The sea monster is based on a local legend: – the Chesil Beach Sea Monster or Veasta is Dorset’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster. It has a fish’s tail and the head of a sea horse and has been seen across the centuries emerging from the sea by Chesil Beach, which connects Portland to the mainland. Having also read about a Pliosaur discovery on the Dorset coast (a huge, fearsome sea monster with rows of very sharp teeth!), I came up with the idea of a sea dragon. My dragon is a gentle, misunderstood creature, very ancient and mysterious. My favourite part of the story is when Isabel gets to ride with the sea dragon. What an amazing experience!
I love scary books – the more witches, dragons and monsters, the better! My scariest villain appears in the fourth book of the series, The Portland Giant – a headless horseman. As this story is set in the week leading up to Halloween, I felt that this was a good excuse to create lots of ghosts and dark shady characters to cause trouble for Isabel and her annoying little sister, Suzie.