Do you like trees? I love them! I used to climb a lot of trees as a child, and I especially remember sitting at the spindly top of a pine tree, swaying gently in the breeze and smelling the tang of pine sap. Have you ever got pine sap on your clothes? It’s murder to wash out again and whoever does the washing is probably going to be a bit annoyed about it...
That memory started off my fantasy adventure book for the 9-13 age group, Dilly Drops In. There are body-recycling gnomes, a perfectly-behaved doppelganger, a little bit of blood and guts, a dash of toilet humour, and a quest – all part of an adventure that not only sees heroine, Dilly/Sarah, rescuing a group of hi-jacked souls so that they can go on to their heavens, but one that will also mend her difficult relationship with her mum.
The story is light-hearted and fun, while tackling the underlying theme of loss—the loss of a parent through divorce, the loss of loved ones through death—and the inevitable personal adjustments that have to take place. Currently I'm trying to make an illustration to begin each chapter, so I will add an example or two here as I make progress.
Chapter 2: Waiting Around
Instantly there appeared in front of us a wooden door; a door that Gnomey walked straight into with a splurty sort of noise.
He cursed under his breath and rubbed his battered nose. ‘Thanks!’
The door had enormous cast iron hinges and a curious knocker, of a shape that I remembered from biology class. It looked exactly like a human thigh bone, and it was hanging with the ball joint at the lower end to bang on the door. Very realistic, I thought, grabbing it and knocking loudly three times.
Chapter Five: Dilly is Deep-Cleaned
This was nothing like the cosy bedroom I’d been looking forward to at all. The upper floor of the Forty Winks Hotel was one big open space. With the timbered floor under my feet, and rows of wooden beams crossing the space above my head, it felt more like an attic. Baggy white sacs were hanging at regular intervals along the beams. They were thin and stretched at the top, where they were attached to hooks, but full and rounded at the bottom, where they just about skimmed the floorboards. It looked like a roomful of giant moth cocoons.