Watch out dragons... Here be Aaron!

Aaron Gray and the Dragon War Is now available as a book and ebook.

Aaron is a brat, which is understandable after everything he's been through. He also sees dragons when he hums, which isn't understandable by anyone, ever. He soon gets sucked into the dragons' dangerous war, where his only defences are his embarrassingly magical fingernails, and a fierce, ten-year-old girl.

Available everywhere across the world! Check out goodreads / amazon uk / amazon us / barnes & noble / book depository or your favourite book or ebook retailer.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Short Story: Missing from Care

Now that Aaron Gray and the Dragon War has been out a while, I think it's safe to include some short stories that take place after the start of the book. So this story takes place behind the scenes of chapter one and therefore contains very slight spoilers.

Missing From Care

Harold first realised something was wrong when Mrs Seeger walked into his office with a towel covering her blouse. He finished the mouthful of sandwich he was eating, letting the last few tastes of chocolate spread fade from his tongue.

"Visit went well, did it? Let me guess. Aaron's done a runner again."

"Afraid so," Mrs Seeger said, rolling her eyes. "I had a feeling it would go badly."

"And you still wore a white blouse?"

“I know! Rookie mistake! But I’m in court this afternoon and I wanted to make a good impression. I’ve got a spare suit in the car though.”

“Okay, so what happened?” Harold felt for the right form in his desk drawer. “Might as well get the paperwork done before we go and get him.”

“You don’t want to drag him back from the bus stop again then?”

Harold paused, and then shook his head. Unfortunately this wasn’t his first runaway. Or even his hundredth. “No, he needs to cool down. Last time we picked him up too soon was when he smashed his window and snuck out again in the middle of the night...”

Mrs Seeger sighed, “I remember. Thank goodness the train conductor had seen our appeal on twitter!”

“Precisely, so if you agree I think we should let him calm down, he’ll get the bus into town and hang around with his mates from the chip shop, and we’ll check he’s okay in a couple of hours.”

“There’s the risk he’ll go somewhere else though,” said Mrs Seeger.

Harold knew she was just playing devil’s advocate. Aaron always went to the same place, and she knew he was safe there. “Yeah but we take the same risk every time we send him to school. I think it’s the best option for Aaron.”

“Agreed. So can one of your staff pick him up later? I’m the last person he’d want to see at the moment.”

“No problem.” Harold filled in Aaron’s name and address at the top of the form. He reached a box that was simply labelled “circumstances”.

“So why did he run this time? You told him about his dad?”

“That’s the one. He did not take it well.”

Harold sniffed. “Poor kid. He’s a little brat but he’s a good lad.”

“He is.” Mrs Seeger smiled. “I’ve got high hopes for that boy. Anyway I’d best get to court. Let me know when he’s safely home. I’ll come round tomorrow and try to smooth things over. I don’t want him thinking I’ve abandoned him.”

“He likes you. We can all tell.”

“I hope so.” Mrs Seeger smiled. “See you tomorrow.”

“See ya,” said Harold, returning to his form. “Oh, and Harmony. Good luck in court.”

Monday, 27 March 2017

Dragonsong - Where it all started

This is Dragonsong. The book that, for me, started it all.

I was on holiday in Llangollen, because that's where I spent all my childhood holidays, but this one was more exotic because we were also going to spend a few days by the sea in Prestatyn. We stopped off to see my Grandparents on the way, and Grandma gave me three books. Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums.

She explained to me that there were dragons and that they breathed fire to burn an evil thread that fell from the sky and destroyed everything, and that they were ridden by dragon riders who communicated with them telepathically. She thought I'd like these books particularly because the main character was a girl who was extremely musical, and over the three books she got to go and study at the harper hall.

She was right. I started reading for the music angle and then stayed for the dragons. Then my grandma gave me other books in the series (which I'd later found out she'd gotten from my uncle and auntie), and then I was hooked and bought myself the other books.

And that's how my love of dragons started. To the point where my best friend at sixth form made me this amazing masterpiece to put on my wall when I went to uni...

Isn't it amazing? It's Ramoth, a queen dragon (all queen dragons are gold in the Pern novels) from the same era as Dragonsong.

If the idea of a golden queen sounds familiar, then yes, you're right. As a tribute to Anne McCaffrey, in Aaron Gray and the Dragon War, all the female dragons are either golden or green, as they are in Pern (I had to invent a different shade of Green for Cecil so that he could be a boy!)

Friday, 24 March 2017

Who should narrate the audiobook for Aaron Gray and the Dragon War?

I love answering questions! There's actually a question thing on my Goodreads Author Page, but nobody's found that yet!

Anyway, a friend on facebook asked me this question:

I think this is a question that any author daydreams about (unless, of course, they already have an audio book!). I admit I do think about it often. The narrator would have to be somebody quintessentially English, but who is also no stranger to silliness. Somebody who could build up the drama of the scary and dangerous bits, but also have fun with the lighter parts. They would also need to do a whole load of different character voices, not all of them human.

With this in mind then, how about these four for contenders?

Alexander Armstrong

Victoria Coren Mitchell

Tony Robinson

Sue Perkins

Anyone else I've missed?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Monday, 20 March 2017

Residential Childcare: How the adults care for the kids

A lot of early commenters for Aaron Gray and the Dragon War asked about the freedom Aaron seemed to have in his residential care home. Particularly this passage:
"Aaron only had about ten seconds to get away before the staff at the home found out what he'd done. He headed for the front door as quickly as he could without drawing attention to himself and sprinted down the driveway into the street. It was cold and drizzly. Hopefully the staff would be slow to come looking for him in the rain." 

Their argument was that it shouldn't be that easy. Why didn't the care home staff lock the doors to keep the kids from leaving? Why didn't they have an alarm on the door and then chase down the driveway after him? Why didn't his social worker immediately raise the alarm? Doesn't she know better?

 The answer is that children's care homes aren't that simple. Locking the door would make it less of a home and more of a prison or institution, and yes, sometimes that creates an element of risk.

As for whether Aaron has too much freedom generally, please do read this amazing article in Community Care, a website supporting those who work in social care.

The article begins by describing a young man called Keith who, although slightly older than Aaron, displays many of the same characteristics.

"Fifteen-year-old Keith was a physically intimidating kid who had a history of disruptive behaviour and physical violence towards staff and other young people in his previous placements. His risk assessment also reported that he played by his own rules and had no respect for boundaries."
It then goes on to talk about how they cared for Keith, and the answer was not always to discipline him or be harsher with the boundaries. It then talks about other approaches that care workers have used, including giving them cigarettes, even where the boundaries state that they shouldn't be smoking.
"I’ve followed kids with a colleague and seen them approach strangers asking for a cigarette, or observed them picking up nubs in the street and smoking them. In such circumstances I’ve witnessed staff who smoke give the kid a cigarette, while emphasising the dangers of approaching members of the public. This might strike some staff as an easy option but I beg to differ. It’s a judgement call and the right one. Rules are in place because they are necessary, but they don’t always allow for common sense to be applied when dealing with a troubled and upset kid."
This barely scratches the surface of the approaches that children's homes take to make sure that children grow up safely and have a future. Sometimes the solutions aren't ideal, but things aren't always as clear-cut as you may think.

Friday, 17 March 2017

More Goodreads Reviews

I've had another couple of 5 star reviews on Goodreads. This time from the Dunlop family :)

Alex said:
"Got to the end and wanted to find out what happened next, always a sign of a good book."
Jennifer also reviewed it on Amazon:

"Excellent story. Looking forward to the next one! Great for fans of well written fantasy. Not sure yet if I will let my sensitive 8 year old read it quite yet as there is one bit that may be scary/upsetting."

Lots of people have asked me whether there's a sequel, and yes there will be, hopefully towards the end of next year. The scary bit mentioned in the amazon review is a part where they're in a desert and bad things happen. I completely agree that if you have a sensitive child then they may find this bit upsetting (although it does have a happy ending!).

In terms of scariness, I keep telling people it's scarier than Prisoner of Azkaban, but not as scary as Goblet of Fire.

Thanks again everyone for your nice messages. More coming in the next few weeks as I collate what I've got!


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The second misadventures of Hilary Hobgoblin

Today, Hilary Hobobglin is starting his second adventure. I've told him to go and see Cecil the dragon at the Abbey, who in all likeliness will tell him about Aaron and Julia's quest. Do check it out at Brevenynews!!