I’m a proud mother. Okay, the book doesn’t play Green Day’s ‘Basket Case’ on the ukulele or Cat Stevens on the acoustic.
But it’s mine. all mine.
Two tales – one based on an old Trinidad folk tale of Papa Bois, the guardian of the woods. The other story is inspired by a couple of trips to Lamu, the island off the coast of Kenya, populated by people, donkeys and cats. (The last time we were there, we were on a dhow sailing out into the lagoon at sunset. Some cliches are worth it.)
Twelve-year old twins Liani (never without her camera) and Cyril (”outside world – noooo!”) face down hunters, sniff out crapaux and set Spiderface on the path to a long and happy life.
I was intrigued by Authorprofile’s assertion at the London Book Fair that Rick Riordan has, to resurrect the spirit of the X-Factor judging panel, made myth his own. The presenter pondered how any other YA writer could encroach on this rich territory.
Myth and legend is a constant influence on the popular arts. It threads through pop-culture, from glam-funk 1980s groups like ‘Imagination’ to the Coen Brother appropriation of the Ulysses myth in ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’ through to Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ and the Marvel magazine’s Thor stories – though my daughter greatly resents the films’ erroneous pairing of Thor and Loki as brothers!
My particular interest is Caribbean myth and legend. Although I grew up in England, my world was filled with the tales of female devils, poltergeists, wolfmen and the souls of unbaptised babies. At primary school, in the pre-video age of BBC school TV programmes, I remember trooping off to our little television room with my English friends and seeing a programme about Anancy. I took the news back home and my mum proudly claimed him as our own. But I preferred our own family tales – the time when the obeah man was called to stop ghosts throwing stones on to the corrugated metal roof, or when my aunty saw a la diablesse by the mango tree in Victoria St.
In the Authorprofile branding exercise, I thought hard about what powers my writing. Caribbean stories rates highly, central to both ‘Granny Ting Ting’ and ‘Wild Papa Woods’. Now I just have to hope that Rick Riordan’s eyes haven’t turned to Trinidad.