Today I am delighted to be welcoming the fabulous Abi Elphinstone to The Book Zone, as part of The Shadow Keeper blog tour. Abi's debut book, The Dreamsnatcher, was my favourite middle grade book of 2015, and its sequel, The Shadow Keeper, is even better! Abi is here today to tell us about some of the weird and wonderful items she has in her writing shed, but the wonderment doesn't stop there, as on Monday we will be giving you a chance to win a copy of The Shadow Keeper!
Top 10 Strangest Objects In My Writing Shed
One of my favourite things about school visits is showing children the weird and wonderful objects I’ve picked up on my travels. And with recent book research adventures involving living with Kazakh Eagle Hunters in Mongolia (you can read about that here) and chasing the northern lights in the Arctic, my writing shed is fast becoming a treasure trove of extraordinary items. So, here you go for a run down on the Top 10 Strangest Objects In My Writing Shed:
1. An arrow fletched with buzzard feathers. Catapults are my weapon of choice but when the witch doctors stepped things up a gear in The Shadow Keeper I threw in some bows and arrows as well. In the run up to writing the book, I learnt to fire a long bow at Barbury Shooting School and afterwards I bought a flint-tipped arrow from an antique shop in Portobello Road, London.
2. A human finger bone. There is a particularly evil band of smugglers in The Shadow Keeper. Barbarous Grudge is the thug at the top and he is often seen chewing the finger bone of a government official who tried to stop him smuggling years ago.
3. A gold tooth. Barbarous Grudge again for this one, I’m afraid. The legend goes that he fended off eight tax officials in a smuggling raid then stole their money to melt down the coins to cap eight of his teeth in gold.
4. A wolf fang decorated with silver. I bought this in Mongolia when I was living with the Kazakh Eagle Hunters. There are wolves in The Shadow Keeper but perhaps not the sort you’d expect…
5. A sheep’s ankle bone. This was given to me by a family living in one of the most remote settlements I have come across, at the foot of the Altai Mountains in Mongolia. Mongolian children play games with the bones and when I come to writing my Eagle Huntress book, I’m going to include the ankle bone and the girl who gave it to me, a five-year-old cat wrestler called Angela.
6. A shaman’s dagger. My little brother bought this back for me after his time living with the Reindeer People in northern Mongolia. The handle is made from reindeer antler and it is one of the most magical and fierce things I’ve ever seen. It’ll be a part of my next series – an Arctic adventure – because I already know there will be an evil shaman wreaking havoc out on the ice.
7. A plastic moth encased in glass. As odd as it sounds – and inspiration for the book I’m currently writing: a wild adventure amidst mountains, moors and lochs.
8. Animal Spirit cards. In The Shadow Keeper, Moll has a very special bond with a wildcat called Gryff. Sometimes I take these spirit cards to school visits and readers can find out what their spirit animal might be. Mine is a fox, apparently: ‘has many allies in the woodland, a sure-footedness in the physical world, is always concerned about family members & travels far afield.’
9. A catapult carved by one of the last ‘true’ Romany gypsies, Pete Ingram. He painted Roald Dahl’s wagon for the film premiere of Danny, The Champion of the World, and the catapult he gave me is made from ash with a beautiful horse head carved into the handle. It’s magnificent and I’m lucky my main character, Moll, hasn’t pinched it yet – because catapults are kind of her THING.
Huge thanks to Abi for taking the time to tall us about all these amazing things she has in her writing shed. The Shadow Keeper was published yesterday so make sure you go out and get your copy now. Although if you have not yet read The Dreamsnatcher, you really must do this first!