Tag Archives: books

Purple Horses

A fried egg? Or the Millennium Falcon?
A fried egg? Or the Millennium Falcon?

“A parent saw a child drawing a horse, and it was purple. The parent asked the child, “Why are you drawing a purple horse? I’ve never seen purple horses.” To which the child replied, “How sad for you.”

I kick off with this quote in Get Started in Writing an Illustrated Children’s Book. I can’t remember who said it, but it’s stayed in my head for around twenty-five years, and so naturally I had to use it. Seeing purple horses has always struck me as a vital aspect of being a children’s writer.

It doesn’t specifically have to be a purple horse. It could be a shape in the fog, a tree masquerading as a ship, Bishop Brennan’s face in the skirting board. A log that might be a guinea pig if you squint. Something which proves that your brain is malleable and open to alternatives.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen? Could it be the start of a story?

Get Started in Writing an Illustrated Children’s Book, publishing November 2016.

On the Shelf

As it’shhh-librarians #nationalpoetryday (and I haven’t updated my blog in an age) I thought it was a good opportunity to dust off this old thing. Enjoy.



Bunkum’s Book Emporium: a paper crematorium where books can die unread.

The shelving units date away to 1634, they say (well, Mr Bunkum said).

They told me that my Prince would come and offer me a lordly sum to go and be his wife;

The Prince dissolved, as did his yacht, and left me here to wonder what to do about my life.


I suffer for my trade, and must breathe in an awful lot of dust, which often makes me think

My bones are very likely filled with words that once a public thrilled, my veins must course with ink.

My hair will be the threads that hold the books upon their spines of gold, my skin is soft like vellum;

If customers come in to browse, I furtively adjust my blouse and flex my cerebellum.


The clients are an absent lot, who half the time have just forgotten life this side of forty,

They hem and haw and ask what’s in the work of this Anais Nin that makes her quite so naughty.

I frown and tut (for pleasure, partly), tell them books by JR Hartley don’t in truth exist,

And with a flash of erudition, comment on a first-edition Kierkegaard they’ve missed.


My only hope of rescue lies with Mr Bunkum’s straining flies, which seem to need attention.

Perhaps he’d like a double life? Apparently he’s got a wife he doesn’t like to mention.

I’ll lie in wait and seize my chance and ask him if he’d like to dance, then flash a bit of knee.

The bodice-ripping heroines within the shop remainder bins won’t be a patch on me!