Visit to Manor Park School

I recently visited Manor Park School, where I was given a tour by the lovely Ms Hodgson and met lots of friendly students.

Salmek’s Crystal was chosen as the Manor Park Book Club read for Year 4 students, and it was a real pleasure to answer their questions and get some interesting feedback on the book. This is one of the best bits about writing – getting to share it with other people and hearing about what they liked (and sometimes, what they didn’t like!).

The great thing about the Manor Park School Book Club is that the children choose to attend this in their lunch hour; it’s not something they are made to do. So the fact that they willingly turned up during their break and were enthusiastic and complimentary about the story, was inspiring.






A few of the questions I was asked were:

Q: Where did the name Salmek come from?

A: The name came to me in a daydream and I couldn’t change it to anything else (even though I tried to). It had to be Salmek.

Q: Are you going to have a film made of the book?

A: Whenever Danny Boyle or Peter Jackson is free, yes, that would be great! I have always seen The Rainbow Serpent Trilogy as a film playing out in my head, and I just write down what I see, so to me, it’s already a movie.

Q: Who inspired the characters, especially George?

A: The characters are all a mish-mash of different people really, but George is loosely based on one of my uncles who was rather eccentric and very lovable.

Q: Have you finished book two yet?

A: The first draft is complete but there is more work to do to get to the final, finished, proper book.

Q: Have you been to Cuba?

A: Sadly, not yet.

Q: Have you been to Egypt and India – all the places that are featured in Book One?

A: Yes, I have been really lucky and have travelled to both of these places. I would like to go again one day!

Q: When did you start writing stories?

A: I have been writing stories and poems from a very young age – probably about six (ish).

The photo above shows how much fun we had (assisted by a joke or two from Ms Hodgson as she took it!)

Thanks to all the staff and pupils for making it such a fun visit.

Book Two

The first draft of book two is now complete. It’s always an exciting time but there is still more work to do: editing, tweeking, adding new bits, scrubbing other bits out – so whilst it’s far from being the finished book, the basic story is in place and I look forward to the process of it developing over the coming weeks.







Book Art

Instead of writing a book, you can make a piece of art out of it. Sharp scissors and patience required! Still busy writing – and being distracted by trees popping out of books instead of the other way around.

paper art-framed


Rainbow Serpent in a Tree

Couldn’t resist posting this photo!

Rainbow Serpent Trilogy…Rainbow Serpent in a Tree (I’m afraid it was asking a bit much for the tree to actually create a rainbow coloured serpent).







Still working at book two, so must get back to it…


divali-framedDiwali is being celebrated now; it’s the Hindu 5 day festival of light. The festival celebrates light over dark, good over evil and wisdom over ignorance.

Diwali actually means ‘rows of lighted lamps’. You will find houses, shops and many public places decorated with lamps and candles. It’s a time for spring-cleaning homes, firework displays, decorating everything with fairy lights, exchanging gifts and wearing new clothes. No wonder everyone looks forward to it!

In India, Hindus will leave the windows and doors open so that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, can find her way into people’s homes. I spent Diwali in Varanasi, India, a few years ago and it was an experience mixed with wonder, excitement and terror as the night sky was full of colourful fireworks and the streets full of firecrackers being set off in all directions. I eventually had to take refuge on a rooftop to keep safe!







Thank you for the dream

This is such a heart-warming story, so I thought I would share:

One rainy Sunday afternoon in 1989, with encouragement and much-needed help from her father, a 7-year-old girl named Amy decided to send something to Roald Dahl. Taking inspiration from her favourite book, The BFG, and using a combination of oil, coloured water and glitter, Amy sent the author a very fitting and undeniably adorable gift: one of her dreams, contained in a bottle.

Thankfully, the sentiment wasn’t lost on Roald Dahl. His lovely response can be seen below.



Indian Chai

Following on from the post below…here is the chai.

I wouldn’t have survived my travels in India without it. A comforting concoction of cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper to make the masala (spice mixture) and of course there is milk, sugar, and loose tea leaves that the masala mix is added to. However, the recipe varies as many chai sellers have their own secret family recipe.

Thanks to Tanvi at The Haihi Cooks for the photo.

Here is a link for the full recipe: – but you can also buy chai tea bags which is a much easier option, it just won’t taste quite the same.




Varanasi in India

Varanasi is featured in Salmek’s Crystal. It’s a facinating place full of vibrant colour, people, incense, temples, chanting… and mystery. It’s the place where Salmek sees things she has never seen before,  and there is danger all around her.

One of my favourite things about Varanasi was sitting on the steps and watching the world go by – it really is like being part of a movie set. In fact, there is so much going on all at the same time you have to go off and take a chai break!

Tea plays an important roll in any trip away, as you can see from the post below!







Egyptian Mint Tea

I am only posting this as I fancy a cup myself this morning, and as I don’t have any mint to hand, I will have to imagine it.

Mint tea was the first drink Salmek had when she arrived in Egypt and it’s really tasty and refreshing. One of the best things about visiting different countries is meeting different people, learning about different cultures, drinking the local beverages… and eating the local food!