Tag Archives: Baobab Tree

Art and other things

Over the past couple of months a friend of ours, Tommy Cuddihy, was laid up after a foot operation. While this must have been extremely frustrating for him, the result of it (in non medical terms) was brilliant. He produced a picture combining elements of both The Butterfly Heart and The Sleeping Baobab Tree. I still do not know how he did it as it contains pressed metal and beautiful colours, but I do not really need to know because I love the result!iphone January 2015 700

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That is such a brilliant Baobab tree .. and as for Ifwafwa on his bicycle, the detail of the small bits of orange plastic on the wheel spokes,  and Nokokulu’s yellow car – just astonishing.

So, a huge thank you to Tommy for this – a real work of art. And it got me back to my blog which has been sorely neglected for the past while. So a double thank you.

Children’s Book Festival

October here again, Children’s Book Festival – it’s a lovely month for children’s writers, booksellers, libraries, schools and children all over Ireland.

I am someone who finds it hard to switch my brain off from what is happening in the world – I never understand how it is possible for anyone to switch off. Sometimes it overwhelms. Cruelty, bigotry, prejudice, hatred, intolerance, brutality, murder and mayhem. Yup, we have it all. And I am lucky that it just overwhelms me – I do not live it or die because of it.

And what on earth does that have to do with Children’s Book Festival. Well … partly because it helps me to look on the bright side of life – because what I and many other children’s authors get to do is to travel to different parts of Ireland and talk to children. Children full of questions, children from all over the world who have through different circumstances ended up here (as have I), children who are only starting out on life. Children whose minds are mostly still open, unshuttered.

And in between them librarians and the wonderful CBI staff who all work so damn hard to make this happen.

This month I’m going to Cork, Clare, Wexford and Carlow and in November to Kildare. And I’m really looking forward to it. Writers and entertainers are not always one and the same thing – writing stories and storytelling do not always go hand in hand. And we all do things differently – I have watched other children’s writers present their work to children and have thought, ‘nope, I could never do that’ But that doesn’t matter because I do something else. Part of what I hope to do, as it is where I have lived for most of my life so far, is to bring them to the doorstep of Africa. A vast, beautiful continent that is ‘somewhere else’ in their lives. To show them what is different and what is the same. To slough off some of the preconceptions. Big aim but if I only achieve ten percent of it I’m happy.

Some snakes made by a class in St Johns when they were reading my first book, The Butterfly Heart

Some snakes made by a class in the wonderful St Johns school when they were reading my first book, The Butterfly Heart

Baobab on way to Kariba

And a baobab tree just because it’s my favourite tree .. and that sky!

One Book Project – Kilkenny City Vocational and Grennan College

Really looking forward to working with the students at Grennan College in Thomastown and Kilkenny City Vocational School on a One Book Project with The Sleeping Baobab Tree.

I will be working with the English Teachers and students as they do what will hopefully be lots of fun, cross curricular projects around the ideas thrown up by the book.

Last year I spent many satisfying hours working with a Second Year group in Kilkenny VEC on creative writing and was impressed with the work being done at the school – and especially impressed with the work done by the students in my group.

As I understand it a One Book Project allows students to view a work of fiction through the various prisms of their subjects – already I can visualise possibilities in Biology, Geography, English, History, Art, CSPE, music perhaps and Maths … I hope so. Should be lots of fun and I am looking forward to my part in it all.

Here’s a picture of a Baobab tree, apropos of nothing other than the book’s title and it is my favourite tree.. and the wide blue sky.

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The Next Big Thing – Blog Hop

How the Next Big Thing blog hop works

An author answers ten questions and then tags other authors to do the same thing the following week on the same day, which in this case is a Wednesday (I am a little late..)

Tom O’Neill tagged me.

Tom O’Neill had his book Old Friends: The Lost Tales of Fionn Mac Cumhaill published recently. He likes writing for both old adults and young adults. It allows him to spend time amongst strange characters and to add to the public body of lies. Other preoccupations: Africa, farming, and restoring castles. You can find out more at Tom’s blog.

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Here are my answers to the questions..

What is the working title of your next book? 

The Sleeping Baobab Tree


Where did the idea come from for the book? 

It came to me as I was looking at photos of Baobab trees (as you do) and I came across one at a place called Ingombe Ilede, roughly translated as The Place of the Sleeping Cow. It is in Zambia and nearby an ancient burial site. A magical place.
What genre does your book fall under? 

Magical realism.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? 

A hard one, but as the book is set in Zambia I would like actors from there to play the roles rather than people from other countries pretending to be Zambian.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Three friends and an old woman embark on a journey, each of them hoping to right wrongs, both past and present … but dark clouds are gathering and ancient magic is in the air beneath the shadow of the sleeping Baobab.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

It will be published by Walker Books in London.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? 

This book has taken many twists and turns along the way so that’s a hard one to answer!
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

Certainly my first book, The Butterfly Heart, not sure which others.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

Primarily my love for Zambia inspired me – it is where I spent my childhood and my memories of it are vivid and clear.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

 One of the sub-themes in the book is the damage done by those people, scientists among them, who have spent many years denying the existence of HIV/AIDS. In the process they have caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

Tagged Authors

I have tagged a few authors as it seems as though the Blog Hop allows you to do this. However if my tagees (!) wish to limit themselves to only one other author, that is no problem.

 I have tagged Jean Flitcroft, Jean is the author of The Cryptid Files series published by Little Island and you can read more about Jean here. In this series Jean’s love of travel, her scientific background and her writing skill have combined into three wondrous tales of Crytpids. So far the books have taken us from Loch Ness to Mexico and finally to a remote island off the coast of Canada.

I have also tagged Vukani Nyirenda. Vukani is a Zambian writer specializing in children’s folktales based on Zambian folklore. He has published two picture books and many of his stories have been published online and in magazines. He currently lives in Ontario, California. You can read more about Vukani here. 

I have tagged Colleen Cailin Jones. Colleen lives in Cork and is a Canadian writing for children. She is also a very active member of SCBWI (the Ireland chapter) and a Sacred Heart singer. You can find out more about Colleen here.

And, finally, I have tagged another O’Neill. John O’Neill, who hails from Ballon in County Carlow, is the author of the book Children of the Cromlech, as well as the script-novel Ned Hickey.  John lives in New Zealand now.