Monday, 17 December 2007

Case of the Diamond Shadow blog

I've just started another blog, this time set around a novel of mine, for teenagers, that's coming out half-way through next year. It's a mystery novel, set in the 1930's, called The Case of the Diamond Shadow. I'll be posting all kinds of bits and pieces on there. Go over and have a look! It's at

Friday, 23 November 2007

An exciting surprise!

I got a lovely surprise in the mail yesterday--my advance copies of the BBC Audiobook version of Thomas Trew and the Hidden People. On two CDs, completely unabridged and with a playing time of 2 hours 13 minutes all together, the novel is gorgeously read, in many wonderfully diverse voices, by the exceptionally talented Andrew Sachs. Best known for his star turn as the hapless waiter Manuel in the hilarious classic comedy series Fawlty Towers, Andrew Sachs is a seasoned actor, performer and scriptwriter whose voice is also often heard as a narrator of many audiobooks and documentaries.
He's certainly wonderful to listen to. He has all the different voices down so well, he really makes the story sparkle along. And it's lovely to hear your own story read aloud by such a great performer--and lovely too that it does transfer to being read aloud very well indeed. Exciting!
I'm not sure exactly when the audio book will be out in the shops, but it should be very soon. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Story starter at Write Away

A little while back, I was asked by the lovely people at that wonderful children's literature website, Write Away, , to write a Story Starter for them, on the subject of dreams and how they can inspire stories. That was of course because of how the Thomas Trew series started, in a particularly intriguing dream I had, which I wrote about in one of my first entries on this blog. The 'story starters' are excellent features of the Write Away site, and are used by individuals and groups as inspirational and fun exercises to help kickstart stories. They've been written by all kinds of terrific writers. I'm honoured to be in such company!

Now my story starter on dreams and how to use them to inspire your own stories is up at the Write Away site. You can read and download it for free! Go to the Write Away site, click on the Story Starters button in the main menu on the left, and then on to 'Dream On,' my story starter. Have fun!

Friday, 16 November 2007

Thomas Trew five out in UK!

Number five in the series, Thomas Trew and the Flying Huntsman, is just about to come out in the UK. Look for it at your local bookstore! It's coming out in Australia in March 2008. Like no 4 in the series, Thomas Trew and the Selkie's Curse, it features some terrific reviews by young readers, from schools in Britain and Australia.
The Flying Huntsman was one of my favourites to write. It's a very tense and rather creepy story, set in the strange sky-world of the Ariels. And Thomas is in even more danger than he's ever been before!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

On Facebook..

I'm joined up to Facebook recently. If you're interested, go and have a look at my page, and take some of the quizzes I've taken! Find me by just putting me in my name. See you there!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Blogging at Inside a Dog..

Last week, I started a blogging stint as Writer In Residence at the Inside A Dog website, the website of the State Library of Victoria's Youth Literature Centre. I'll be blogging there for a month, till November 9, on all kinds of things to do with books, writing, life and everything--including Thomas Trew, spooks, and murderous magpies! Come over and join me on

Thursday, 6 September 2007

New look for Thomas Trew!

There's a whole new look to Thomas Trew, starting with the 4th book in the series, Thomas Trew and the Selkie's Curse, which comes out in Britain on September 21, and in October in Australia. Here's a sneak look at the great new jacket, complete with reviews by young readers!
And why the change? Because it was felt the original covers(as you see them to the right of this) weren't quite eye-catching enough, and that it would be good to have reviews from actual readers. Which is an excellent idea, I reckon. What do you think?
The next two in the series, Thomas Trew and the Flying Huntsman, and Thomas Trew and the Island of Ghosts, will similarly have bright new revamped covers and readers'reviews. Watch out for them!

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Melbourne Writers' Festival

Next week, I'm off to Melbourne for the Writers' Festival, where I have a few gigs talking about my books, and reading from them. The Thomas Trew series will be prominent in them!
Here's a list of events, for my Melbourne and Victorian readers:
Saturday August 25, Children's Literary Afternoon Tea. This will feature Garth Nix and myself, at Sofi's, the Sofitel Hotel, Melbourne, 2.30--4.30. This is a paying event, and you need to book.
Sunday August 26: The Big Family Read, with me, Garth Nix and Michael Gerard Bauer, at the Malthouse, Southbank, 10.30--11.30 am. Free event(but get there early!)
Tuesday, August 28, I'll be on a panel on using historical sources to write fantasy, with Kate Forsyth and Anna Ciddor. This is part of the schools programme, and you need to book. Malthouse, 10.15 am--11 am, aimed at students in years 7 and 8.
Wednesday August 29, I have a session by myself on creating the fantasy worlds in both the Thomas Trew series and my older-readers El Jisal series. this is at the Malthouse, 11.30--12.15, and is also part of the Schools programme, and aimed at students in Years 5 and 6.
The Melbourne Writers'Centre website is at You can book online.
After each session, I'll be in the book tent, signing books. Do come and say hi, if you're there!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Seeking reviews..

To all young readers of Thomas Trew: Want to see your name in one of the Thomas Trew books? My publishers will be printing one-line reviews of the books in the next three books. If you or your friend or classmate has read one or more of the books and want to write a very short review(don't just say you like it, say why), leave it in comments on this blog or else send it to me in an email at If your review is selected, it will appear in one of the last three books. Only your first name and age will be printed.

The Hidden People, Part E: The Ariels

The Ariels are the Hidden People of the sky-country. They are city dwellers and live in the huge, beautiful cloud-city of Seraphimia. This city looks rather like a Venice in the sky, set on a sky-lagoon, and with lots of cloud-canals down which go gondola-like boats.
On one side of Seraphimia, the lagoon leads into the sky-ocean and then to a weird cloud-valley where float all kinds of strange shadows, leftover shapes and bits and pieces from the beginning of time. This valley is also the way into the land of the Ariels. Nobody lives there.
On the other side of Seraphimia is the wild wasteland country where dwells beings like the storm giant, Uryon, also known as the Flying Huntsman because he gets around on a huge black hunting horse with a pack of red-eyed dogs. Uryon isn't an Ariel; he's older than them, he's from the beginning of time.
The Ariels can be tall, small, thin or large; there are all kinds of people amongst them, good, bad and in-between. Generally speaking, they're friendly to the other Hidden Worlders--but that's not always the case, as Thomas and his friends find out to their cost in Book 5(which will be out towards the end of the year). The Ariels are famous for their baking--they make the best cakes in all the Hidden World--for their knowledge of stars, and star-magic, and of course, flying!

Friday, 22 June 2007

The Hidden People, Part D: The Seafolk

Th Seafolk, as their name indicates, live in the seas and oceans of the Hidden World. They are featured in the fourth book, Thomas Trew and the Selkie's Curse, but also appear in the third book, Thomas Trew and the Klint-King's Gold.
There's all kinds of Seafolk. Good ones, bad ones, and in between! There are mermaids and Syrens(dangerous mermaids); selkies(seal-people) and fin-folk(shark-people), and all sorts of others. There are dolphins and whales and fish and all sorts of other creatures too, some of which can communicate with the humanoid Seafolk like selkies and mermaids and such. The Seafolk's world is vast and much of it is wild and frightening, like the wasteland of Mirkengrim. But there are also villages and the huge city of Oceanopolis, which is where Thomas and his friends go. Oceanopolis, which is ruled by the Sea Duchess, is very rich and full of amazing mansions, shops and Seafolk!
The selkies are the Seafolk Thomas gets to know best. They're talkative, lively, bright, quarrelsome sort of people who have a great gift, the gift of music. From them comes much of the music of the Hidden World; so when that music is threatened, a dark cloud descends on all of the Hidden World..
You can start meeting the Seafolk, especially the selkies, in the third book, Thomas Trew and the Klint-King's Gold, which is officially out in Britain today!

Monday, 11 June 2007

Guest blogging

Just come back from nearly two weeks away, talking about Thomas Trew and others of my books. Pretty good, but tiring, too. I'm glad to be back home!
And I've just started a stint as a guest blogger on the website of the Australian book magazine, Good Reading. It's a weekly gig, for three months. I'll be talking about all kinds of literary matters, the writing life, etc. Should be fun!
Good Reading is a terrific magazine. Every month, it's packed full of interesting news, reviews, and titbits. I've often discovered new authors and books through it. They have both a print and an online version. The website is at
The blog, if you want to go directly there, is at

Monday, 28 May 2007

Advance Copy of Klint-King's Gold

Exciting day the other day when I opened the post to find my first advance copy of the third Thomas Trew title, Thomas Trew and the Klint-King's Gold! This one takes Thomas from the bustling Magicians' and Enchanters' Convention in Owlchurch and Aspire to the rocky kingdom of the Klints, a Montaynard people famed for their wealth. They've donated some wonderful golden prizes for whoever wins the Tricks Tournament at the Convention--but there are many greedy eyes on that gold, and Thomas and the twins are soon whisked into an intriguing and dangerous adventure!
Thomas and the Klint-King's Gold will be out in Britain on June 21, and in Australia in August. It's dedicated to the Trew family of Ramsgate--Thomas, Alice, Linda and Dave--whom I talked about in an earlier entry. Watch out for its appearance at a bookshop near you!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

NEW! Thomas Trew on You Tube

I've just made a little video talk about the Thomas Trew series, which is now uploaded at You Tube, at
It's intended as a kind of 'virtual author visit', for all those readers and schools I can't physically go and visit. In it, I talk about some of the sources and inspiration for the series, as well as lots more. I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Photos of the Australian launch of Thomas Trew!

John Heffernan and me in Dymocks Bookshop with some of the young people attending the launch!
John is ecstatic over Ted Dewan's illustrations...
me at the signing table...
some more of the people at the launch, where a good time was had by all!

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Some exciting news!

Yes! Thomas Trew and the Hidden People has been chosen as one of the titles in the big UK Summer Reading Challenge, which is run in 97 percent of libraries in the UK. The Summer Reading Challenge, which is organised by The Reading Agency ( is a big deal for readers aged 4-11, and features libraries ordering copies of the books, and children reading up to six books, collecting stickers as they go. It always attracts huge support, so it's very exciting indeed to be one of the titles chosen!
In other great news, the audio rights to Thomas Trew and the Hidden People have just been sold to the BBC. So soon there'll be a lovely audiobook version of the book, with the BBC's usual wonderful dramatisation. I'm really excited about this too!

Friday, 11 May 2007

NEWS: What a launch!

What a launch Thomas Trew got last night for his career in Australia! It was, in fact, a fantastic champagne launch, courtesy of the lovely people at Dymocks Bookshop, Armidale-thank you, Graeme, Susan, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Julie! And thank you very much to John Heffernan, who made the loveliest launch speech an author could hope for--especially from a fellow author! Thanks to all the people who were there--I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Next week, I'll post up some pictures from the event.
There's been a lot of interest around Thomas Trew this week in my region--I did three radio interviews, a TV interview, and two newspaper interviews! And some wonderful school visits as well. It all augurs well for Thomas and his friends. I'm very excited!

Thursday, 3 May 2007

13: The Hidden People, Part C: The Montaynards

The Montaynards are the people who live in the rocks and mountains of the Hidden World. There are Montaynards living in all kinds of places, but in the third book in the series, Thomas Trew and the Klint-King's Gold, Thomas and his friends meet two sorts of Montaynards: the very rich dwarves known as the Klints, and their servants and bodyguards, the ginormous trolls! The Klints and their trolls live in the Klint Kingdom, which is far across the sea. It is a strange, rocky sort of place, and rather barren, but as Klints live actually within the rock formations and hills, they don't care about that.

Montaynards generally are pretty wealthy, as they trade in gold and all kinds of precious stones which they dig up from within the rocks and mountains where they live. Montaynard dwarves are great talkers, and love to make speeches. They also love fine clothes, banquets and parties and flowing hair(or beards, in the case of the men.) Their names reflect this--the men have names like Brock Blackbeard, the women names like Gilda Goldenhair. They are often brave, short-tempered and good people to have on your side! The trolls meanwhile are rather slow and stupid, though some of them can be rather cunning. They are huge and powerful and generally loyal to their dwarf overlords. They have long protected Montaynard realms from attack. But they can be dangerous, too...

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

12: NEWS! The Australian launch of the series!

The first book of the Thomas Trew series, Thomas Trew and the Hidden People, is just about to come out in Australia(official release date into bookshops is April 26). To celebrate, we're having a bit of a launch party. It's going to be held in my home town of Armidale, in northern NSW, and here are the details:
Date: Thursday May 10
Time: 5.30 pm
Place: Dymocks Bookshop, Armidale.
John Heffernan, the well-known children's author, who also lives locally, will be launching the book.
Anyone who' s in the area and would like to come, is most cordially invited!
You can contact Dymocks Armidale at or on 02 67714558.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

11:The Hidden People, Part B: The Uncouthers

I'm going to talk about the Uncouthers now because Thomas meets them, in all their awfulness, in the very first book!

The Uncouthers live underground. Their realm is called the Land of Nightmare, and it's mostly taken up by the dark, crowded city of Pandemonium. At present they are ruled by their Queen, Lilith, with her second-in-command being her son, General Legion Morningstar (there he is, sitting on his throne, with his court around him).
In fact, the General has taken over much of the government in recent times. Uncouther government is very strict. In fact it's cruel and hard. The Uncouthers keep slaves, who toil without rest in the nightmare factories. But even those who aren't slaves don't have many rights. There are informers, secret police, torture and execution for anyone who dares to protest. Fear reigns in Pandemonium and Nightmare generally.

The Uncouthers produce nightmares. That is their main export, along with nasty spells that they sell to wicked magicians. They are the sworn enemies of the rest of the Hidden World's people, though they occasionally make alliances with villainous or ambitious types amongst the rest of the Hidden People. Long ago, they fought a terrible war with the rest of the Hidden World, and when they were defeated(with the help of the first Rymer, True Thomas), they had to sign a strict treaty which allows them to continue trading in their goods but forbids them from leaving their land, except for special occasions, such as the big Convention of Magicians and Enchanters. Even then, they have to abide by special rules. Queen Lilith abides by the treaty, but her son the General has other plans..

If the Uncouthers ever managed to break right through and send their armies to take over the rest of the Hidden World, it would be a disaster not only for the Hidden World. For they'd then send plagues of nightmares and evil spells to infect our world, and people would go crazy with fear.

You'd think no-one would want to form alliances with such people, but as Thomas discovers in the course of his adventures, that's not the case at all!

Sunday, 8 April 2007

10: The Hidden People, part A--the Middlers

There's several different races of people in the Hidden World, and they live in all kinds of different environments. I just thought you might like to know a bit about each of them, the things they're famous for, and so on.

I'll start with the Middlers, as they're the first sort Thomas meets when he goes into the Hidden World. Both Owlchurch and Aspire are Middler villages, for instance.

Middlers live on the surface of the earth, usually in villages or small towns. There aren't any big towns in Middler country. But there are also some Middlers who live on their own, especially in forests or by streams and so on. Those kinds of Middlers are called 'solitaries'. Some solitaries are good, like Old Gal. Others, like Peg Powler, the dangerous solitary with sharp teeth who haunts one of the pools near Owlchurch, are bad. (In fact, all Middlers can either be good, bad, or in-between)

Middlers can be of all shapes and sizes and appearances, though usually they're not as tall as Ariels or as small as Montaynards. They are well-organised with village councils and Mayors and so on. Villages can often be very different from each other, like Owlchurch, which is cosy, comfortable and old-fashioned, and Aspire, which is glamorous and modern.
Every couple of years, the Middlers run the huge Magicians' and Enchanters' Convention, which allows human witches, wizards, enchanters and so on to mingle with people from all over the Hidden World and buy their pishogue.

The pishogue of Middlers is of all sorts, but generally it's recognised that they have the best Dream-makers and the best Tricksters of all the Hidden World. They also have great bookshops, and the best healers and ointment-makers. One of the oldest of the Middler realms, the realm of King Pan, deep in the forest, is recognised to have the best pishogue of all, and its award of the Horns of Pan is highly sought-after by everyone.
Middler country is usually very green, with nice streams and rivers, rolling hills and woods, and lovely little villages. The photo above (which is actually of the Wye River valley) gives you a bit of an idea of what a Middler landscape might look like.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

9: NEW! Book covers for entire series!

If you have a look on the right-hand side of the blog, and scroll down, you'll see I've put up all the covers for the entire series. And don't they look wonderful..
Drum roll for Dan Andreasen, our fantastic cover artist!

8: Pishogue and the Horns of Pan..

What's pishogue? It's the name given by the Hidden People to what we Obvious World people call magic.

The pishogue of the Hidden World comes in many forms.

There's the production of dreams and also of nightmares. The Dream-makers made good dreams, and the slave workers of Pandemonium, in Uncouther lands, make nightmares.
There's the making of tricks and jokes and annoyances (the Tricksters, like Hinkypunk Hobthrust and Monsieur Reynard, are especially good at that.)
There's glamouring, which is turning things into what they're not--for example, turning yellow autumn leaves into a pile of gold. There's spells of all sorts, like the long-stalker spell, which can make an ordinary pair of shoes turn into things that can carry you a long way, fast, or the thinning spell, which makes you invisible.
There's pishogue to do with music and with stories and paintings and all kinds of things like that. There's pishogue to do with food and with cars (like Adverse Camber's cranky car, Metallicus, for instance)..There's all kinds of pishogue, from all the different parts of the Hidden World.

If you're a really great maker of pishogue, you might be rewarded with the Hidden World's highest honour: the Horns of Pan. This award is traditionally given by King Pan, ruler of the forest kingdom of Arkadia, the Hidden World's oldest and most respected realm. (That's Ted's picture of Pan and his court of nymphs, above).
Getting the Horns of Pan is not only a huge honour, it also means you're allowed to do all kinds of things, as Thomas Trew and his friends find out in the new book, Thomas Trew and the Horns of Pan. Read it to find out more!

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

7: The new book's here!

Today I'm holding in my hot little hands the first advance copy of Thomas Trew and the Horns of Pan, the second in the Thomas Trew series! It looks gorgeous! (That's the cover, on the column at the right of the blog). Its official release date is April the 19th in the UK, and June in Australia. Make sure you watch out for it!

Sunday, 11 March 2007

6: Pinch and Patch

Pinch and Patch Gull are twins, and Thomas' best friends in the Hidden World. They are Middlers, like most people in Owlchurch, and they are also the only children living there--apart from Thomas! They're lively, mischievous, clever but they often get into scrapes. Thomas has a wonderful time with them!

My friend Fiona McDonald, who's a wonderful artist, doll-maker and maker of soft sculptures, was inspired enough by the first book, and the mischievous Gull twins, to create a pair of gorgeous dolls which I took with me on visits to schools. They were a huge hit!

Above are the dolls. And here's Fiona's website:

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

5: Meeting the real Trews!

The real Thomas Trew and me at Waterstones in Ramsgate, Kent (with copies of the book and dolls of Pinch and Patch, created by Fiona McDonald)
Thomas, his sister Alice, and me at Waterstone's, Ramsgate

There's a real magic about this series, ever since its beginning in that dream. Wonderful and unexpected things seem to happen around it. One of the most delightful began one day when I opened my email inbox and discovered an amazing message waiting for me--from the real Thomas Trew, and his family!

What had happened was this--Thomas, who's twelve, and from Ramsgate in Kent, had googled his name one day, and found out that his namesake was the hero of my new series! He was astonished--it's not every day you realise, after all, that you share your name with a book character. And so he and his family got in touch with me. We exchanged quite a few emails. They asked me why I'd chosen the name 'Thomas Trew' for my hero, and I said it was because my Thomas is a Rymer, descended from the first Thomas, who was also known as True Thomas. I had just reversed the name, to get Thomas True--but used 'Trew' as it was a real surname. But I had absolutely no idea that somewhere out there would be somebody with the exact same name! It was a real buzz to find out!

It was even more of a buzz to meet the real Thomas Trew and his mother, Linda, father, Dave, and younger sister, Alice, in Ramsgate, during my promotion trip for the first book, around England. To everyone's amazement, Thomas even looks rather like the picture of my character on the cover of the first book! We all got on really well, and had a really fun time together. (And what's more, they all really liked the book!) We also had to do heaps of media interviews, for it seemed like it wasn't just us interested in this lovely example of life imitating story. Newspapers, radio and TV--including both the BBC and ITV--were delighted with the whole thing, and ran several pieces about it. The Hidden World had set its special magic on us!

We're all still in touch now--in fact you can see a comment from the Trews at the end of my first post on this blog. (Hello, and love to all the Trew family!)

The third book in the series, Thomas Trew and the Klint-King's Gold, which comes out in the UK in June, and later in the year in Australia, is dedicated to the real Thomas Trew and his family. And Alice, who dearly wished she could have a part to play in one of the books, is going to get her wish! I waved my magic wand and hey presto, a character called Alice appears in the sixth and final book!

Friday, 2 March 2007

4: The wonderful Ted Dewan!

One of the great pleasures of writing the Thomas Trew series has been the possibility of working with one of Britain's top illustrators, Ted Dewan. It's really exciting for me to see how Ted takes the characters and places from my books and makes them pop up into view at once with his marvellous, mischievous pictures! Every time I finish one of the Thomas Trew books, I can't wait to see what Ted is going to make of this new lot of characters, places and things!

Like, for instance, above, from the first book, here are the Mayors of Aspire, the most exquisite and rather snobby Lady Pandora and Mr Tamblin, with their car and chauffeur, Herne..and Thomas, of course!

Sometimes the pictures look exactly how I'd imagined they might look, other times I get a real surprise! But always a pleasant one! In fact, Ted's pictures are so imaginative and strong that I always end up thinking, 'That is exactly how that person/place should look like. However did he know?'

Born in the US and now resident in Britain, Ted has written and illustrated many picture books of his own, as well as illustrated books for other authors. He's won several prizes, including the Mother Goose Award and the Blue Peter Award, and he's also frequently published cartoons in the major British newspapers. He lives in Oxford with his wife Helen Cooper, who's also an author/illustrator, and their daughter Pandora (yes, isn't that a nice coincidence!)

I had the pleasure of meeting Ted in person when I was doing school visits in Oxford last year. It was wonderful to meet hi and not only see the originals of his fantastic pictures, but also to catch a quick peek at the next batch!

His website is at

Sunday, 25 February 2007

3: Something about names!

I always enjoy creating names for characters and places in my books. That's especially so in the Thomas Trew series! They were inspired by all sorts of things..things I saw, things I read, things that just popped into my head!

The name of the dwarf Adverse Camber, for instance. That's from a roadworks sign! We were driving along near Cardiff in Wales a few years ago, and there were lots of roadworks. Every so often, you'd come across a sign which said 'Adverse Camber'--meaning that the road had a bit of a tilt to it that might make it hard to drive. When I saw that sign, I thought, that sounds like someone's name, actually. Someone unusual...someone who enjoys driving but maybe has trouble with his car: and hey, presto, there was Adverse Camber the dwarf and his unco-operative car, Metallicus, springing up in my head!

Another time, I saw a poster about herbs at an old house we were visiting. It was rather a nice poster, with coloured pictures and the names of all kinds of herbs. Two especially caught my attention: Angelica, because as a child I used to love it when Mum bought some to decorate cakes (it's a rather nice green crystallised root) ; and Eyebright, because, well, that was such a nice name. Ah-ha, I thought, 'Angelica Eyebright'! That sounds like some magic person's name--and so, there she was!

Some other names have come from myth and legend: for instance, Pan, in the second Thomas Trew book. The name of the wicked Uncouther General, Legion Morningstar, comes from the Bible, while the name of his city, Pandemonium, comes from Greek tradition. There are also names from Celtic stories, such as the name of the selkie girl, Roanna, in the fourth Thomas Trew book; and from Norse legend, like the Klints, in the third Thomas Trew book.
And from Shakespeare--like the name for the dwellers of the sky-country of the Hidden World: the Ariels.

And quite a few have come from one of my favourite source books: the wonderful Dictionary of Fairies, by Katharine Briggs. She was an English writer with a great interest in folklore, and she wrote lots of really useful books about the stories and legends of Britain. The Dictionary of Fairies, for instance, is full of amazing stories about all kinds of weird and wonderful and scary creatures, people, monsters and traditions. By 'fairies' she means all the many sorts of inhabitants of that world within the world, which I've called the Hidden World, but other people call things like 'Narnia' or 'Elfland' or 'Fairyland' or 'Beyond the Looking-Glass' or 'Wonderland' or 'Hogwarts!' In that 'fairy' world are ogres and giants and trolls and dragons and griffins and elves and well, just about everything magical and amazing, good, bad, and just plain mischievous!

A Dictionary of Fairies also is full to bursting with terrific names, taken from traditional stories. And that's where some of my characters' names have come from: for example, Pinch and Patch, Hinkypunk Hobthrust, Old Gal, the Green Man, Peg Powler, and others...

Still other names come directly into my head without any prompting. The name of the village where Thomas goes to live, for instance-Owlchurch--comes out of my feeling that a lot of English village churches, with their square Norman towers with tufts of stone at each corner, look rather, in the distance, like square owls' heads! 'Owlchurch', I thought, yes! The other common kind of village church is the sort that has a tall pointy spire--so, 'Aspire'--which was actually suggested to me by my husband. My first thought for Aspire's name was Needlechurch--nowhere near as good a name as Aspire--thank you, David!

2: Into the Hidden World...

'There's a dwarf in the hall,' said Thomas Trew to his father, one grey London afternoon.

That's how the first Thomas Trew book begins...and that's Thomas' introduction to the magical Hidden World.
The dwarf's name is Adverse Camber, and he's with a funny little lady dressed all in rainbow colours, who's called Angelica Eyebright. There they both are, in the picture to the left--the first of the wonderful artist Ted Dewan's illustrations for the Thomas Trew series.

Angelica is the Mayor of the Hidden World village of Owlchurch, where Thomas and his father Gareth are going to live. Adverse, meanwhile, is her assistant and the proud owner of the grumpy talking car, Metallicus. It's in Metallicus that Thomas and Gareth will get to Owlchurch..

Where is the Hidden World? It's not far away, but lies just within our own world--which Hidden Worlders call 'the Obvious World.' You can reach it in all sorts of ways--on a little slip road off the motorway, as Thomas and his father do; by ship; across several border posts... The only thing is, you must be invited there in order to be welcome. People who try to force their way into the Hidden World, without an invitation, are in all kinds of trouble!

The Hidden World is the source of dreams, imagination and magic. It's divided up into several regions, where different sorts of people live. There are the Middler regions, where Owlchurch and its rival across the River Riddle, Aspire, lie. There are the rocky, mountainous Montaynard regions; the Seafolk's realms, under the ocean; the Ariel regions, in the sky. And then there's Uncouther country, in the darkness of the underground...

In the six books in the series, he visits each region of the Hidden World, learns a good deal about them, has wonderful adventures--and falls into great danger!

The six books are, in order:

Thomas Trew and the Hidden People
Thomas Trew and the Horns of Pan
Thomas Trew and the Klint-King's Gold
Thomas Trew and the Selkie's Curse
Thomas Trew and the Flying Huntsman
Thomas Trew and the Island of Ghosts.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

1: Welcome to Thomas Trew and the Hidden World...

And hello to all my readers! In this blog, I'll tell you a little about the series, how it started, about its characters, and also about the Hidden World itself. I'll be very happy to answer any questions you might have--and feel free to leave comments!

The series started in a really magical way. One night, I had a dream. And in this dream, I walked down a little street and came to a doorway which had a sign above it: the Apple Tree Cafe. I walked through the doorway, down a rather dark and narrow passage-way. There was a door at the end of the passageway. This door was green, and painted on it was a picture of an apple tree with rather gnarly branches and some beautiful ripe red apples on it. I opened the painted door, and straight away, a voice whispered to me, 'We are the Hidden People.'
I woke up at that moment, and lay there thinking that I must find out who these hidden people were, and what were they doing in the Apple Tree, and what was it all about? These hidden people came from a hidden world, that was clear. But what was this hidden world, and how was it different from ours, and how might you go there?

Then I thought of a story I knew, an old Scottish story which is called Thomas the Rhymer. He's a young man who one day goes to sleep under an apple tree and then suddenly wakes up to find an amazingly beautiful lady looking at him. She's riding a white horse. Thomas says, who are you? and she tells him she's the queen of Elfland, and she's going to take him on a marvellous journey into Elfland. So he gets up behind her on his horse, and she takes him into a magical land full of wonders. He spends a long time there and has all sorts of adventures. Then at the end of several years, he wants to go home again, and off he goes--but with a special gift the Queen of Elfland has given him. It's the gift of prophecy, and back home he becomes known as 'True Thomas' because all the things he foretells actually come true..

So the hero of my series is Thomas, too. Not True Thomas, but Thomas Trew. He's a descendant of Thomas the Rymer, as I called him, and he too is specially invited into the Hidden World(though not by the Queen of Elfland, as you'll see) and has many adventures there. But Thomas doesn't live a long time ago, like that first Thomas. He lives now, in London. He's nearly 10, his mother's dead and he lives with his father Gareth in a rather grey house in a rather grey street. People think he's rather weird, even his dad, because he sees and hears things other people can't. He just knows something wonderful is going to happen one day--and sure enough, it does!