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Author: Paula Harrison

Ten Things you should know about the land of The Secret Rescuers!

Today’s guest post is by Paula Harrison, author of The Secret Rescuers series (illustrated by Sophy Williams), with ten things that you should know about Arramia – the magical setting for this superbly-realised series for 7+ year olds.

1. The Kingdom of Arramia is full of magical animals like storm dragons, sky unicorns, firebirds and star wolves.

2. The Secret Rescuers often need to fly from place which they do on storm dragons, sea dragons, sky unicorns or diamond owls.

The Secret Rescuers: The Storm Dragon | Paula Harrison

3. The storm dragon featured in the first book is called Cloudy (short for Cloudtail). Storm dragons can control the weather making the rain fall and the wind blow!

4. Not all grown ups like the magical animals and hiding a sky unicorn is trickier than it might seem!

The Secret Rescuers: The Sky Unicorn | Paula Harrison

5. Queen Viola rules the kingdom with help from her chief knight Sir Fitzroy.

6. Girls or boys can only talk to magical animals if one of the Speaking Stones cracks open to reveal the beautiful crystals inside.

The Secret Rescuers: The Baby Firebird | Paula Harrison

7. Golden songbirds often carry messages from one Secret Rescuer to another.

8. In the Whispering Forest, there are giant toadstools and huge silverwing butterflies. Crystal glow worms light up in the dark and the star wolves sing the stars out each night.

The Secret Rescuers: The Star Wolf | Paula Harrison

9. Arramia is a vast country with mountains and forests in the north, lakes to the west and the sea to the east. In the south is a huge rainforest featured in The Baby Firebird.

10. In The Sea Pony there is a secret island called Ixus where no humans have ever been before. Sea ponies and sea dragons live there and turtles swim amongst the seaweed.

The Secret Rescuers: The Sea Pony | Paula Harrison

Thank you, Paula! The latest book in the Secret Rescuers series, The Secret Rescuers: The Sea Pony, is out now – you can take a look inside the book below:

Buy the book.

The inspiration behind Pale Peak Burning – the new book by Paula Harrison

Today’s blog post is by Paula Harrison, author of the Rescue Princesses series, the Secret Rescuers series, and the Red Moon Rising trilogy, on the inspiration behind Pale Peak Burning – the final book in the trilogy.

Next month the last book in my Red Moon Rising series will be released. It’s called Pale Peak Burning and it’s set in the Dark Peak of Derbyshire. When I started writing it, back in 2013, I went to stay in the Youth Hostel in Eyam with my sister to explore the place and be inspired! The main character, Laney, moves to the area near the beginning of the story. It’s a long way from the woods and gentle rivers of her home. The rough beauty of the countryside really strikes her and certain places are key to unearthing secrets about who she is and why she’s there. No spoilers though!

I love the Peak District. It’s a magnificent place with chunks of stone lying around on the hilltops alongside abandoned mill wheels that were cut out of the hillside more than a hundred years ago.

Pale Peak Burning | Paula Harrison

If you like a good view it’s a great place to visit. There are also some great pubs to eat in. The photo above is Baslow Edge and the one below is Curbar Edge. Amazing places! I took inspiration from the place names too. In Pale Peak Burning there’s a mysterious peak called Groaning Tor. There are interesting place names all over the Peak District.

Pale Peak Burning | Paula Harrison

Red Moon Rising is a fantasy series following the fortunes of the Fair Eyes (faeries) who live as humans and who belong to the tribes Mist, Thorn, Greytail, Kestrel or Blaze. Each tribe possesses different elemental powers. Laney tries to find out who she really is and where she belongs in Pale Peak Burning. This book was great fun to write. Unfortunately not all the characters survive till the end! I’ll let you guess which ones don’t make it…

Pale Peak Burning will be published next month – if you’re new to the series, you can read the opening of Red Moon Rising, the first book in the trilogy, below:

Buy the book online.

Meet the author: Paula Harrison at the Oxford Literary Festival

Today’s blogpost is by Paula Harrison, author of the upcoming Red Moon Rising, a quest-driven epic for 9+ year olds, as well as the best-selling Rescue Princesses series for younger readers.

I set off for the Oxford Literary Festival in bright spring sunshine last Saturday. I was feeling pretty cheerful because Nosy Crow’s lovely Mary Berry had posted copies of Red Moon Rising to me and they arrived that morning. It was my first sight of this new book! I may have stroked the cover a little.

It felt like an auspicious day to be going to the festival. It was the 21st March – exactly 4 years since Nosy Crow emailed with my first offer of a book contract (yes, I have it marked on my calendar. It was a Thursday and the offer landed in my inbox around 5:30 pm and made me burn my daughter’s fish fingers).

I’d been invited to take part in an informal “Meet the Author” event in the Festival Marquee, where each author had an allotted time to talk about their stories and sign books. The marquee was erected in the courtyard between the Bodleian Library and the Sheldonian Theatre. It didn’t really strike me till afterwards, but it was quite prestigious surroundings in which to talk about my books. I’m glad I didn’t think about that till afterwards!

The old Bodleian library

As always, the best thing about the event were the children. A girl named Charlotte had stayed around the marquee especially to see me and she giggled when I donned my tiara to read from “(new-window)The Rescue Princesses. I was also charmed by the children’s brilliant mask-making. There were several small but vocal wild creatures in the marquee that day!

I suggested Daniel could cut out the eye holes with the help of his mum so that he could see!

I particularly loved introducing my book Red Moon Rising to the audience. Seeing it on sale in the marquee was a great moment too. Thank you so much to the staff at Blackwell’s for looking after everything and generally being lovely.

Thank you, Paula! Red Moon Rising will be out next week – you can take a look inside below, and pre-order the book online here. And if you’d like the chance to win a copy, you can find out all about our monthly books newsletter competition here.

A Faerie Tribes launch party

Today’s guest post is by Paula Harrison, author of the Rescue Princesses and Faerie Tribes series, on the launch party for her new series, which took place last week.

Last week I was lucky enough to hold a joint launch party in London. I was launching The Crystal Mirror, the first in the Faerie Tribes series. My fellow launch-ee, Jackie Marchant, was marking the publication of I’m Dougal Trump: Where’s my Tarantula, the second in her series. Jackie is a friend who I’ve known since I joined the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in 2007 and she’s been a fellow traveller on the road of writing for children.

Although I’ve been published for a whole fourteen months, this was the first launch I’ve held purely for adults. I also write The Rescue Princesses but events for those books work best with younger guests as they involve a lot of tiara making and ninja moves – sometimes simultaneously!

Candy Gourlay, another fellow member of SCBWI, videoed my speech. There were lots of people I wanted to thank. This interview with Kirsty had made me think about the whole array of people involved in bringing the book to life. A huge amount of people played a part in getting the story from manuscript stage into bookshops and I’m really grateful to every single one of them!

All in all it was a fantastic night. A big thanks to everyone who came along. I also now know never to stack cupcakes on top of each other if you’re travelling on the London Underground as the heat down there on a summer’s day will melt the hardest icing.

Faerie Tribes: The Crystal Mirror is out now. You can order the book online here, and read the first chapter below. Thanks to Candy Gourlay for filming the video at the top of this post.

Spellbound: Reading and Writing about Fairies – a guest post by Paula Harrison

Today’s guest post is by Paula Harrison, author of the Rescue Princesses books, and a brand new series for older readers, Faerie Tribes, which launched this month with publication of The Crystal Mirror.

About a year and a half ago, I had one of those odd moments when an idea just drops into your head.

Fairies live among us.

But I wasn’t thinking about wee folk that collect children’s teeth and leave a coin under their pillow. These fairies were indistinguishable from humans. In fact they were deliberately hiding in plain sight. Just imagine if the lady living opposite, who loves growing her own vegetables, was a fairy and you never knew?

Developing the world of Faerie Tribes made me think about the different representations of these magical folk in children’s books. One of the first fairies I remember reading about is Silky from Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood. She’s actually described as an elf but I always thought of her as a fairy and if I’m honest, I always wished she was a bit more pro-active in the story. Perhaps I’m being unfair here, as all the characters fall in and out of adventures in the lands at the top of the Faraway Tree without really taking control. Then I discovered J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and found a fairy I could really love in Tinkerbell. She’s spirited and selfish, and will do almost anything to keep Peter to herself.

Our fascination with fairies (or faeries – sometimes known as the fay) has continued into the 21st century with many books for older readers giving a completely different take on them. The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer gives you magic combined with technology. Fairies fly around kitted out with all sorts of gadgetry and there’s even a centaur as the technology whizz.

So how did I want to represent the fairies of Skellmore – the village in Faerie Tribes?

I knew from the start that they would belong to different tribes and that Laney, my main character, would be a member of the Mist tribe, even though she doesn’t know it to begin with. Mist faeries draw their power from water and can perform great things with it. Other tribes would draw on their own elemental powers. I wanted them to feel a strong connection to the landscape around them and have a human and a fairy form that they switched between at will.

I also knew that not all of them would be good and that using a faerie’s “dust” (their dead body) would bring the greatest power and the greatest curse of all.

There are lots more children’s books with fairies in that I haven’t covered here. What are your favourites? Let me know in the comments!

Faerie Tribes: The Crystal Mirror is out now – you can read the first chapter here:

Order the book online.

Identifying with princesses – a guest blog post by Rescue Princesses author Paula Harrison

After all the tiara-making fun at the launch of the first Rescue Princesses book, my children began an even more exciting craft activity. They took their dolls and began to turn them into Rescue Princesses, even adding every detail of the dresses and the jewelled rings. It was exciting for me to see it. With a snip of tissue paper here and a dash of shiny card there, my characters were coming alive!

Princess Clarabel

They also made two-dimensional dolls out of Hama beads. The Hama bead template meant that there wasn’t a lot of scope for characterisation, but they did their best with hair, skin and dress colour to replicate the four first princesess in the series.

Hama bead princesses

The children then made the dolls and Hama bead creations talk to one other and they invented adventures for them too. They’ve loved playing with princesses and playing at being princesses for years.

I began to wonder what children liked most about characters. Do they prefer a character that’s just like them? Or do they like characters to be different from them – perhaps an aspirational figure? It’s certainly true that, having talked to girls at recent Rescue Princesses events – like this one – many of them said that the princess that resembled them most physically was the one they liked best… before they’d read the book. Physical resemblance was a “way in” to the story.

But after I talked to children who had finished reading the first book, The Secret Promise, the feedback from them began to change. Many of them loved Princess Emily with her long curly red hair, whether they they had curly red hair or not. Well, she is the main character of the story and I did try to make her likeable. Many chose other characters too. One (white) girl told me how much she loved Lulu, “because she’s so adventurous”. Children reading a story love to imagine themselves as characters that can do or say things that they would never dare to. I like to think of this as the Tracy Beaker effect, after that strong-willed girl invented by Jacqueline Wilson.

When they were judging a book by its cover, they chose princesses who looked like them, but, after they’d read the stories, they were more open to identifying with princesses who didn’t look like them.

As to why they were willing to identify with a princess in the first place… well, that’s an interesting question. To be a princess is to be important (but not always powerful) and also to have a life of escapist luxury and privilege, with all the accoutrements of royalty – ballgowns and jewels. Princesses are special.

But when I wrote Rescue Princesses, I wanted to create characters who were not just special, not just well-dressed, but who were brave, kind, clever, determined and adventurous, and who were active, not passive.

They get to have their royal cake and eat it, and the reader gets to do that with them too!