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What is your book The Dragon and Her Boy about?

The Dragon and Her Boy is the sequel to Tiger Heart - both stories are set in a kind of time-slip between Georgian and Victorian London and tell the adventures of a gang of street children called the Gutterlings.

The hero of The Dragon and her Boy is a tumbler - or street acrobat - called Stick. The story starts on a very hot day in August when he and his friends Spud and Sparrow are performing for the crowds at Bartholomew Fair. There is a sudden rumble under the earth and Spud and Sparrow disappear. When Stick goes in search of them, he discovers an ancient dragon whose story is tangled up in his own dark past.

In Stick’s quest to help the dragon and rescue his friends, he ends up risking his freedom - and his life.

 

Do you have a specific routine when writing your books?

I have two very persistent alarm clocks in the form of my cats - Bonnie and Betsy - who wake me for their breakfast at six o’clock in the morning by poking me with their paws. If that doesn’t work, they resort to their claws. This means I am usually at my desk by eight, so most of my writing is done in the morning. But if it’s going well, I might work all day.

My ideas come when I am out on walks around the oldest parts of London - the narrow alleyways and dank churchyards of the City, where I can rub shoulders with the ghosts of Londoners and sniff out stories.

I usually spend a couple of months researching my ideas before I start writing, but quite often the characters surprise me by doing something I didn’t expect, so their stories can change quite a lot as I go along!

 

What is the best thing about being a children’s author? What is the hardest?

I am never happier than when a story is going so well it almost writes itself, and just pours out onto the page. Those are such good days! The hardest days are when I get stuck - often a few chapters in - when I start to doubt whether the story is any good at all! And indeed my own sanity!

 

What did you enjoy reading as a kid?

I loved historical adventure books - so I suppose that’s why I write them now. My particular favourites were Joan Aiken - The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Black Hearts in Battersea etc - her characters were so vivid! But there were so many others … the heartbreak of Charlotte’s Web; the nonsense world of Alice in Wonderland; so many books that children all over the world still love.

 

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I think I knew I wanted to be a writer from the moment I realised I could pick up a book and be anywhere in the world and be swept up in adventures with great characters who - in the best books - felt as familiar and real as friends.

How amazing to be able to write stories that would bring that same joy to children myself! I am so lucky! Best job in the world!

  • The Dragon and Her Boy - Penny Chrimes

    When Stick discovers there is a dragon living underneath the streets of London, he finds himself unintentionally drawn into an epic adventure and a quest -- but how can he find a place for a dragon to live in London when dragons aren't supposed to exist? And with foes at every corner who want to exploit the dragon for themselves, it's going to take a daring plan for Stick to find a safe place for his dragon -- and for himself.

  • Tiger Heart - Penny Chrimes

    Fly never meant to end up in a cage with a man-eating tiger. And though she's sure she's no princess, when the tiger addresses her as 'your majesty', she can't help but vow to free him and return him home. But the bird-filled jungles and cloud-topped mountains of the tiger's homeland are an ocean away. And not everyone wants the tiger - or Fly - to get there alive.

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