Monday, 23 October 2017

Adult Fairy Tales And Fairy Godmothers by Steve Gladwin

The phrase adult fairy tales has - shall we say - certain connotations! So I was surprised when the main things an Amazon search turned up were colouring books of the 'no longer even trying to be about mindfulness' variety, as well as collections of the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson and worthy academic tomes by the likes of Jack Zipes. We are far better served on the subject of fairy godmothers, with what appears to be no less than 45 pages of entries. 

Should you search for ‘Fairy tales for the older generation’ however, the only entry you are likely to find is my friend Elinor Kapp's book, Tales From Turnaround Cottage This makes its very uniqueness all the more significant.

Because you see dear reader, I do have a fairy godmother and it is this same lady. We have known each other for 17 years, during which she has given her home as a sanctuary when my late wife and I were conducting our early courtship, helped me over her subsequent death, offered help and sage advice and essentially given me everything but three wishes, during many trying times. And – to my great pleasure and honour – she chose me to shape and edit her memoirs and some of her stories.

And now my dear fairy godmother has written her third book and if it isn’t actually about being a fairy godmother, well it sort of is as well, and I want to tell as many people about it as I can. I don’t usually do plugs – I’m almost alarmingly bad at my own – but in this case I believe it to be important, not to massage my friend’s ego or accelerate her sales, but because I truly believe that what Elinor has done in her book is not only unique but hugely necessary.

I am grudgingly sliding down the slippery slope towards sixty. In days gone by this would almost be an invitation to book your sun lounger well in advance and for your employers to start the collection for the gold watch. Seventy was considered old, and eighty ancient, with the chance of ninety highly unlikely.

How things have changed now. People in their eighties complain if you call them old and there are those truly irritating expressions like ‘you know eighty is the new seventy?’ Wherever you are on the sliding scale towards certain eventual death, probably the last thing people would think you’d want or appreciate would be a book of fairy tales. Still in so many people’s eyes Fairy Tales are still for kids just as much as Harry Potter books, whatever covers you put on them. But we storytellers, and those initiated in the dark arts of tale telling know the truth. Fairy Tales have never been just for children. They are for us, my dears and they always have been. It’s just we that have chosen to forget it.

I'll always remember the gimlet-eyed grandmother so wonderfully played by Angela Lansbury in Neil Jordan’s revisionist version of the Red Riding Hood legend, ‘Company of Wolves, adapted from Angela Carter’s book The Bloody Chamber. She it is who warns any young girl who might listen about men who are hairy on the inside as well as the outside.

By lucky hap, as Lord Percy might say, my friend Elinor is a huge fan of Angela Lansbury and so it seems a great opportunity to draw these two threads together.

Elinor’s book is called Tales from Turnaround Cottage and its sub title and therefore the essential thrust of this blog, is ‘Fairy Tales for the Older Generation.’ It collects together about twenty of the stories she has written and told as an eminent retired psychiatrist and psycho-therapist, as a textile artist with two books of words in the English language that have been derived from textiles to her name, as a storyteller with Cardiff Storytellers and from the yearly retreats at Ty Newydd Writers Centre with Hugh Lupton and Eric Maddern, where I first met her, as well as at least one or two she has created especially for friends. Some of the tales in the book are directly connected with textiles and threads, and three of them have been previously published in our recent book on loss and change, The Raven’s Call. To put it simply, a whole lifetime of life, work, disappointment, delight and heartache have gone into both the tales and especially into the character of Helena Brown, the book’s fairy godmother.

Soul Ship

Of course I recognise my dear familiar fairy godmother in Helena – it’s not exactly rocket science to do so. I’ve known her a long time, recently read early versions of some of the stories, and I was with her at Ty Newydd when she read out the first version of The Shrewish Wife.
What came over to me most last week however, when I finally settled down to read the copy she had sent me, was the sheer humanity of both Elinor the storyteller and Helena the character. And there is mischief there too and wit and just the right amount of whimsy in the form of some very resourceful and sometimes quite erudite mice. There are characters from all ages and walks of life carrying all the baggage humanity is inevitably saddled with. And of course who better to record and flesh out some of these people and their stories than a retired professional with a good kind heart and a faith despite everything, in the very humanity she might - like so many of us - so often despair of.

The book is set in an imaginary version of the Sussex which Elinor remembers so well and this - with its regular route marking of the many rivers, landmarks and byways, adds an extra voice to the narrative and adds to its particular storytelling magic. Even the cottage itself is a character and actually tells the final tale. For Turnaround Cottage, you see, used to be a working mill and even though it has fallen into disuse over a number of years, it has never quite lost the habit of turning which way the wind takes it. And as the four winds themselves have that combination of personality and sheer attitude you can only find in the best stories, and will, either when called upon, or simply off their own bat, regale the visitors to the cottage with the story which most suits them. It may not always be the story the visitor wants to hear – but will certainly be the one they need!

The visitors and the needs they bring to Turnaround Cottage are what threads the book together and the weaving of thread as well as the grinding of corn and the sometimes unpredictable attitude of winds, are recurring themes that the book is never far away from.

Those characters we meet in the process of the threading and the grinding are those familiar ones from life, people of all ages but with a special emphasis on the old, vulnerable and misunderstood. There are families to be reunited, lovers to mourn and redemption to find. And always behind each story - whether it be the desperate plight of the mother in 'The Wind of the Dead Man's Feet, who buys her children back from the dead by sacrificing her own life, or the delightfully comic, but stiletto deadly tale of Arachne Le Noir, the not so charming widow - is the kind and benevolent Helena and her own hopes for a happy ending in her own life.

Charles and Elinor at the book launch in Cardiff

Reading Tales from Turnaround Cottage made me realise how a whole huge proportion of society are not catered for by the idea of the fairy tale and perhaps by fiction in general, whose stories, needs, faded hopes and aspirations, have remained unheralded and unsung.

Well, no more. And among the many wonders of the collection is its suitability for all ages, something the author makes quite clear. Elinor has four grandchildren and she wants them to be able to read and enjoy the book as much as their parents. To further help the age group it is particularly aimed for, it is in what Douglas Adams might have called, 'big, friendly letters'. If there has ever been a collection of tales which is truly inter-generational then surely this is it. 

Which brings me back to the question of why older people supposedly don't need fairy tales and their like, when its clear that they need them quite as much as the childhood they can all too often revert to in their later years. Memories and faces may become jumbled for familiar things but we also know how therapeutic poetry can be for people suffering from dementia and mental health issues. 

So why not fairy tales. In his seminal book The Uses of Enchantment', the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim posited the then fairly ground-breaking theory that children need the lessons in fairy tales - the bad as well as the good, the cruel as well as the kind - in order to make their way more easily through life. In recent years there has quite rightly been concern about the amount of fairy tales children get to read either in the classroom or at home.

But no-one, (I presume) ever wonders whether the elderly should be given a opportunity to re-discover the fairy tales of their youth, whether they are lost in the mists of memory or just recently retired. And yet surely the lessons - both hard and gentle - which they first learnt as children remain relevant and might still offer a great deal of comfort.

Perhaps what we needed was a book like Elinor Kapp's Tales From Turnaround Cottage'- a book of fairy tales for older people which encourages them to step back into the wonders of all of their ages and delight in them anew. 

Tales from Turnaround Cottage is published by Diadem Books and you can see the editor in chief Charles Muller above with Elinor at the book launch in August.

Steve Gladwin - 'Grove of Seven' and 'The Year in Mind'
Writer, Performer and Teacher

Author of 'The Seven' and 'The Raven's Call'


Sunday, 22 October 2017

Top Ten Tools For Us Writery Types, by Dan Metcalf

I like making a list or two so I thought for my ABBA offering this month I'd lay out the top ten things I need to write. This list is entirely subjective of course and I'd love to hear what you consider an absolutely essential item for your writing life.

  1. Laptop – I'd love to say that I can get away with a pad of A4 paper and a pen, but the reality of life is that work has to be typed on a computer, laid out in a certain way and increasing, submitted to publishers electronically too. I'm also a tad reliant on websites and databases for research (though nothing beats a library for real research!). Mine is an 11.5” ASUS netbook, which does all I ask of it. The memory is running out now, to which I have bodged a solution by whacking in a cheap SD card in the side and occasioanlly importing stuff over to it. I have two cloud backup services too; ASUS Webstorage (came with the computer) and google drive. I'm also sticking stuff on a USB memory stick because I know from bitter experience that YOU CAN NEVER BACK UP ENOUGH.

  2. Notebooks – I covet these little things. Even though I have more than enough at home, waiting to be filled, I still find myself wondering into Waterstones or Paperchase and stroking the spines of the lovely blank tomes available. In a perfect world I would have a subscription to moleskine or field notes to deliver a parcel to my house every few months full of the bleeders, but unless I suddenly hit Pullman-esque standards of success, I'll make do with whatever comes to hand. And in all truth, paper is paper. A 50p jotter from the post office works just as well as an ornate faux-leather ideaspad. 

  3. Mechanic pencils – Okay, I'm going to say this here and now – mechanical/propelling pencils are better. Just BETTER. Better than a pen (ballpoint or fountain) and better than your regular dead-tree pencil. For one, pencils provide a transience that I like – anything I write with them can be deleted or edited immediately. For two, the propelling pencil has a clarity that I love. Because they have small graphite sticks, you get a fixed width line instead of a thin and pointy line which then devolves into a stubby grey mess further down the page. Also: clickable. None of that pencil sharpener/whittling with a craft knife nonsense. (Only downside I find is that the plastic variety are disposable and bad for the environment – if this bothers you, kindly have a whipround and buy me one of these, because I get through heaps of the plastic Bic jobbies.

  4. Tea – You may think I'm being flippant here, but I do drink tonnes of the stuff. I have had to switch to decaffinated which is frankly just as nice and means you can drink more of it without having to jog off the excess energy every few hours. Brands don't matter, no matter what that woollen monkey off the telly tells you. I also have a back-up of Green Tea with Lemon which provides the taste without the need for milk. I'm drinking it now. Slurp. Yum yum.

  5. A flask – hows this for a productivity hack? My 1000ml stainless steel thermos flask from Asda has served me well. I fill it with hot water in the morning and then bring it to my desk so I can work. This is absolute genius in two ways – One, I don't have to leave my desk and interrupt the flow when I'm writing and two, it saves on your electricity bill by not popping up to boil the kettle every 30 minutes. (But what about milk? I hear you cry; that's where the aforementioned green tea with lemon comes in to play) Try it and thank me later.
  6. Mini wireless mouse – Not essential, but I'm one of these fogies that gets in a tizz when trying to use the touchpad on my laptop. This little beauty has a small USB plugin neatly hidden in the battery compartment which can take out and stick in your laptop. The AAA battery powered mouse then connects automatically. Soooo much easier (and dirt cheap).

  7. A mug – okay I realise that now three of these 'writing' tips are beverage based, but if you think about it, doesn't the quality of the mug affect the quality of the drink? And therefore the quality of your mood? And therefore the quality of your writing? Of course it does. You know it makes sense... My favourite writing mug is this fella from the Literary Gift Company.
  8. Sounds – In an ideal world I would sit in silence and type away to my heart's content but as we all know, we do not live in an ideal world (for proof, check out who leads the world nowadays.). We live in a world where phones, radios and washing machines bleep at you throughout the day. We live in a world where my delightful sons shoot Nerf guns at each other outside my office window. This world needs white noise and I choose You can set the ambient sounds however you wish and block out the rest of reality. I recommend a blend of a crackling fire and thunderstorms.
  9. Bullet Journal – Time management is very much a work in progress for me, and has been ever since I left school. I've still not cracked it but the closest I ever come is when I keep up my bullet journal. Everything goes into this; story ideas, first drafts, appointments, etc. The buttet journal system helps to keep them all in check. I have tried using evernote and my phone's diary, but somehow it doesn't work for me (but am always open to better time management solutions – leave 'em in the comments) (oh, you don't need to buy an official journal either – I prefer a thick blank A4 pad but loads of people work out of moleskines)
  10. My brain – I'd be lost without it. No one else's will do, either. It's my own or nothing. In fact, out of all of these items on the list, this is probably the most important, because all you need to create a story is your brain and a wee bit of motivation.

What did I miss? Leave your suggestions below.

Dan :¬)
Dan Metcalf's most recent book is Codebusters from Bloomsbury. He is also experimenting with Wattpad stories for a YA audience, so take a look HERE.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

What gives me hope as a writer? by Anne Booth

I've been published now since 2014. My first books were published when I was 49.  First it was my MG novel

and then it was the first of what has become a series for OUP (the 4th one has just come out)

But I first said I wanted to be a children's book writer when I was still at school, and I was 49 when that finally happened, so there was rather a big gap! I even applied for a degree course (English at the University of York) where part of the degree could be a children's novel - but once I had got in, I lost my creative confidence and just stuck to academic essays.

But somehow, I think I mustn't have lost hope. I can't have, not completely, or I wouldn't be published now, would I?

And as freelance writers, moving from one contract to the next, nothing can be certain. We can never be sure that our books will stay in print, or that we will be asked to write another. So how do we keep our hopes up? I thought I'd share the things which have given me Hope.

1) First of all, I am so lucky that I have such a supportive husband. He used to really embarrass me when we met new people, because he described me as a writer long before I had had any book published. But I really appreciate that, as he kept hoping in me, and he tried to help me see myself as a writer and take myself seriously. Now, he keeps having hope that I will continue to be published, and he keeps talking me up to anyone who will listen, and he gives me hope when I worry! I hope that all writers have someone who is their cheer leader - and that we can each be the cheer leader for someone else.

2) My children as well, listened to and liked my stories, and said lovely things and made me think I wasn't deluding myself.

3) Old friends had hope in me, new friends on courses (Arvon courses and an MA in Creative writing) gave me hope-full feedback. They said they could imagine me being published. That helped. A lot. Imagining good things for ourselves and for others is a good way to foster hope.

4) My agent, Anne Clark - if anyone has hope in a writer, it is their agent. Without them, you are really hampered. (I know people do get published with no agent, but I think they must have a level of self belief I don't have, or can't maintain consistently without Anne feeding back to me!)

5)Publishers - once we are published, we still need to be given hope that our book will sell, by our editors and marketing people. So I am grateful to Catnip, OUP, Nosy Crow, Lion and Bounce marketing for all the encouragement, past, present and future.

6) Kind bloggers and tweeters and Facebook friends - many of whom are fellow writers - like those who write for this very blog (!) feeding back positive things, saying they are looking forward to reading 'the next thing'. Again - we can do this for each other.

7) Booksellers and librarians saying lovely things and sharing stories of readers who enjoyed my books.

8) READERS. Readers give me hope. I absolutely love getting letters from readers, or meeting  children at school and sharing my books and talking to them. They remind me why I do this job and that I CAN do this job, that I am not just deluding myself.

This week, the illustrator Amy Proud shared this with me. It was sent to her by a mum who said our book 'I want a Friend' was helping her little boy settle into school. Amy asked if we could share , and she said 'yes', and to tell me that her little boy asks for it to be read to him every day, and every time hears the bit about Arthur trying to catch a friend with a 'great, ginormous net', he bursts out laughing.  This gives me Hope - hope that books can make things better, even in little ways, for children, and that I can write books which make a little boy laugh. What an honour! What a great thing to hope for! I hope we sell lots and lots of copies of this book, but just having made this little boy laugh and settle into school with this one copy is a great achievement - and a source of future hope for the work Amy and I will do in the future, separately or together.

 (P.S. - lest this last bit has seemed a bit braggy and self promoting, to put it in context - Amy and I have had to have a LOT of hope in this book, as its publisher went through radical change & downsizing and we lost our wonderful commissioning editor and editor and marketing person; we thought at one time it would never get published at all - so we are very glad it actually saw the light of day, and hearing good things about it is especially sweet!)

(9) Me. I have to be hopeful. It is no good my family and friends, my agents and publishers and booksellers and librarians and even readers, giving me hope, if I sabotage that by talking myself down. I think all  the writers I know have massive bouts of self doubt - we need to help each there out with this - but also - be kind to ourselves. We must celebrate the successes before worrying about the failures. Stop and smell the roses! I am a hypocrite here, but just because I am a hypocrite doesn't mean I am not right!

10) Most of all, as a writer, I think the act of writing itself ultimately gives me hope in writing. My husband is right - I was, and am, a writer. It may not be easy , it may go wrong, it may make me tired, or despairing, it may not be the first thing I want to do when I get up, (actually, it nearly always is!) and I may write lots which won't get published, but I need to do it,  regardless of being published, and it feeds something in me. It is worthwhile. My husband was right to say I was a writer, because he knew that, even though I wasn't published, I needed to write. I write my prayers every day, and it grounds me and somehow gives me back a sense of who I am, recalls me to myself, and helps me to engage with reality. The best thing I can do to keep my hope in writing, is actually to forget about 'being a writer' as such and actually let myself write!

Friday, 20 October 2017

That Blurb Word by Joan Lennon

Writers know it - kids in schools know it - booksellers sell books by it - it's the blurb word. And though lots of these people may already know where the word came from, I didn't. Didn't have a clue.

So I went looking - and this is what I found ...

(click on the image to make it bigger)

Coined by the American humorist Gelett Burgess, it is thought to have first appeared here, on the jacket of Are You a Bromide? - a limited edition slim volume produced for an annual trade association dinner in 1906.  It i
ntroduces "Miss Belinda Blurb* In the Act of Blurbing" and then ... 

I won't lie to you - I WANT PROSE LIKE THIS ON THE BACK OF MY NOVELS!!!  I want my publishers to be saying about a book of mine:

"It has gush and go to it, it has that Certain Something which makes you want to crawl through thirty miles of dense tropical jungle and bite somebody in the neck."


"... you'll sic it onto your mother-in-law, your dentist and the pale youth who dips hot-air into Little Marjorie until 4 Q.M.** in the front parlour."

and that

"This Book is the Proud Purple Penultimate!!"

Wouldn't you?!  It may not tell us much about what Burgess' book is about, but oh, the enthusiasm!

So here is the man himself -

Gelett Burgess circa 1910

Thanks for that blurb word, Mr Burgess!

And what is my favourite back cover blurbing?  There are many priceless gems out there, but if I had to choose just one, how about the 1977 classic Juggling for the Complete Klutz by John Cassidy and B.C. Rimbeaux, Illustrations by Diane Waller -

If you can scramble an egg, find reverse in a Volkswagen, or stumble onto the light switch in the bathroom at night ... you can learn how to juggle.

"Very possibly, the best book of the decade!"
Mrs. Anna M. Cassidy

"Can you believe it? My son, the author - who hasn't written me a letter since I don't know when."
Mrs. Ethel T. Rimbeaux

"For this we sent her to college?"
Mr John J. Waller

How about yours?  Share a favourite blurb or two in the comments below.

* How on earth did she get her hair to stand up like that?
** Can anyone help me here?  My guess is "hot-air dipping" is something like "whispering sweet nothings" but Q.M.?  Unlikely to be referring to "Quartermaster", "Quantitative Macroeconomics" or "Air Malawi" but it not, then ...?

Joan Lennon's website.
Joan Lennon's blog.
Walking Mountain.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

After Great Pain: The Power of Words -- Lucy Coats

"After great pain," says Emily Dickinson, "a formal feeling comes...". It is a poem I go back and back to, to try and make sense of painful episodes in my own life. I have always felt emotional pain in a very visceral way, in my solar plexus, and the way I try to deal with it is, like Dickinson, to externalise it, to write it down, and get the pain onto paper. Mostly I do this by writing poetry. As anyone who follows my Instagram feed will know, sometimes I post these publicly -- especially if they are about my ongoing struggles with depression. I choose to do this because I know (from the messages and comments which come to me afterwards) that it helps others to feel that they are not alone.

Words, as all who read this blog know, are powerful things. They can wound and hurt when used carelessly -- but they can also provide succour and healing. Another thing that words can do is to bring a group of people, who would never otherwise know about each other, together. In the last week, we have seen many distressing revelations from Hollywood. Many women are coming forward with stories about sexual abuse and harassment in the acting profession, and talking openly about the hurt, fear and mental damage which are caused by a powerful person in the industry abusing that power. It has also had another effect. After an actress called Rose McGowan was (I and many others think unjustly and unnecessarily) suspended from Twitter for reasons which are linked to the story I have just mentioned, another actress decided to do something about it. (McGowan, incidentally, also tweeted the entirety of William Blake's 'A Poison Tree' -- which made me understand that poem in a whole other way). Alyssa Milano tweeted a hashtag with just two small words: #metoo and asked women to tweet it if they too had suffered sexual abuse or harassment ( it should be noted that the #metoo movement was originally started in 2006 by Tarana Burke, to spread awareness and understanding of sexual assault in underprivileged communities of colour).  What I have seen grow in the last few days under the umbrella of those two small words has been extraordinary. Women all over the world have brought forth a tsunami of stories, all linked by what we (and yes, I do include myself) have suffered in this way. Seeing friends, relatives, those I know well and not so well, complete strangers, share their stories in this way has been a powerful experience. It has made me weep. It has made me angry. It has made me realise yet again that far far too many of us have been subjected to stuff that is not now and never was acceptable, and also that even now, many of us will be too scared to speak out at all, because of the culture of shame and silence which has always been a part of the hidden story of abuse.

A few years ago, as some here may remember, I wrote about the first instance of my own abuse. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever written (that particular incident happened when I was 8), but getting the words onto paper and sharing them was, in its own way, a path to freedom from those memories that I'd suppressed and ignored for so long. Many women have suffered far worse than I did. But that doesn't matter. Whatever story you have, whatever abuse or harassment you have suffered, feels very very real at the time. The judgement of degrees, of thinking 'oh, my story is not worthy to be told because it's not bad enough' is not a thing anyone should be feeling. I have already described these stories as a tsunami, because that is how overwhelming it has felt to me. But maybe I should also describe them as a great tapestry, with every woman putting in a stitch for every instance of sexual abuse or harassment she has suffered (and yes, I know others suffer this too). Our stories matter, and it is only by sharing them on this kind of scale that the realisation of just how widespread this problem is can be measured, and I hope this time, finally addressed in a meaningful way, though there is a very very long way to go before that happens. It might, perhaps, begin, with a much larger two word tsunami of #IDid from men.

Words, as I said, are powerful tools -- even the small ones. #metooas Suzanne Moore puts it so eloquently, "is showing the ubiquity of sexual assault". And that is not a small thing at all.

OUT NOW: Cleo 2: Chosen and Cleo (UKYA historical fantasy about the teenage Cleopatra VII) '[a] sparkling thriller packed with historical intrigue, humour, loyalty and poison.' Amanda Craig, New Statesman
Also out:  Beasts of Olympus series "rippingly funny" Publishers Weekly US starred review
Lucy's Website Twitter - Facebook - Instagram
Lucy is represented by Sophie Hicks at The Sophie Hicks Agency

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Sea Monsters by Lu Hersey

Sea monsters are part of our psyche, and we’ve been fascinated by them for millennia. No amount of diving with sharks or watching Blue Planet can take away the potential terror of being seized and swallowed by a monster from the deep – which makes them ideal fodder for fiction.

Something no sailor wants to encounter

Sea monsters have featured high on the list of fabulous beasts we love to fear, for as long as we’ve been telling stories. From the Greek Cetea (nasty scaly, fanged sea creatures that ate people) and probably long before that, they've have lurked on the edges of our reality. Even the bible has the story of Jonah in the stomach of a giant whale (always slightly confused in my mind with  Monstro swallowing Pinocchio, an image which has haunted me since I was three years old!)

Disney can give you a lifetime of nightmares

In the medieval world, sea monsters fill all corners of the oceans. Illuminated manuscripts and ancient sea charts are filled with them. Vast, tentacled beasts drag down sailing ships, and all manner of half human, half monster creatures appear in the waves, waiting to lure sailors to their doom.

An early map of Iceland, featuring some wonderful sea monsters

But these sea monsters images may not be as far fetched as we think. Many are based on real encounters with sea animals and have simply become part of our folklore. Take the Kraken. First mentioned in the Örvar-Oddr, a 13th century Icelandic saga, the original was said to be a mile long, and big enough to be mistaken for an island.

The Kraken, big enough to have an island on its back

Okay, so that's highly unlikely. But in the more rational 18th century, the Kraken was more seriously classified as a giant cephalopod – very likely the giant squid, which living at great depths was rarely seen. Recent footage of the giant squid, with its shimmering golden body and amazingly intelligent looking eyes, makes it a creature truly worthy of any myth.

I still shudder at the idea of going down in a bathysphere (or even a deep sea explorer submarine) having read John Wyndham’s Kraken Wakes as a teenager. And in non-fiction, who can forget the thousands of squid eyes, lit up with phosphoresence, staring at the Kon-tiki from the waves in the dark? Or the mysterious luminous living creature, as big as the raft, the crew saw down in the depths?

As for whales – the most amazing and intelligent creatures you’ll ever see – how much do we really know about their lives? How does it feel to dive to the depths for up to an hour and battle with Kraken the way sperm whales do - and how did they ever evolve to know those things were down there?

Even if you think sea monsters are part of our ignorant, non-scientific past, it’s hard to swim out to sea without an image from Jaws pushing up from your subconscious, or hear that theme music echoing in some part of your brain before you quosh it. I love the sea, but all my life I’ve been haunted by sea monsters – and yet a the same time, I can’t get enough of them. Blue Planet is my all time favourite documentary series (and there’s a new series starting this week!!)

It’s also why, after a gap of time writing land based stories, I need to go back under water. There are whole worlds down there, just waiting for me to write about them...

Lu Hersey
twitter: @LuWrites
book: Deep Water