What sound does a squadron of guinea pigs make running into battle?

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I’m going to go with teeth chattering.

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Researching and Disappointment

You know when you’re writing and you’re trying not to get distracted by details or even character names if you can’t come up with one, so you end up with a scene like this?

Diana sniffs the ground at the base of the tree, “Whoah, that’s weird… I’ve never smelled…”

She doesn’t get the chance to finish that sentence because that’s the moment I notice the eyes all around us and jump in front of her, teeth bared. It’s not wolves. They’re too low to the ground. And they’re not growling. They’re whistling.

Have you ever seen a human wig? Terrifying things. Bodiless beings of hair and net that seem to levitate on the mammal who wears them. Imagine a long-haired blonde wig stepping out of the shadow of the forest. But this wig has red eyes. And his equally hairy friends are carrying what looks like the lids of catfood tins, decorated with symbols I don’t recognize.

He casts his weird red eyes over us, from the dirtiest corgi you’ve ever seen, to a small hissing rabbit pointing a stick at them with visceral malice, and me, the obvious threat of the team.

“I am AWESOME WARRIOR NAME” the long-haired wig says, his voice eerily reminding me of Pallas, that deep baritone coming out of a body that really didn’t seem to be able to contain it, “you have trespassed into our territory, and must leave.”

Now, spoiler alert, I had envisioned these new hairy threats as chinchillas. I like the word, I like the idea of a squadron of chinchillas for Emmy to deal with. But until this week when I read the scene over again and started to do some research, I didn’t know that the mammal in my head didn’t match the mammal in real life.

Chinchillas are not known to be hairy animals that look like wigs. It turns out, I was thinking of Peruvian long-haired guinea pigs.

A squadron of guinea pigs just doesn’t have the same ring as a squadron of chinchillas. I mean, I think most normal humans think NEITHER of those sound especially terrifying but I really love the visual image of this squadron of wigs running into battle.

Should I just get over the coolness of the word ‘chinchilla’ and go with the guinea pigs?

 

Riding the London underground

I’m writing a scene today where Portia catches sight of a suspect standing on the platform of a London tube stop, and I always like to watch this video when writing about that specific setting (and I’m very lucky such source material exists).

It’s from the 1930s, and hosted by the Kinolibrary Film Collections:

You can subscribe to the Kinolibrary on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfM-3hDSJkd2M_YGSn8oVkw

What if we name the spy Lancaster?

For those of you following along with the development of book 4 in the Portia Adams series, I think I’ve got a new tentative title: The Detective and the Spy.

It turns out the spy that Portia runs into in act 1 of the story, is becoming quite significant to the storyline. He started out as a Christopher, but in reading more about spies in the 1930s, I’m becoming enamoured of naming him after Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond series. Ian’s middle name is Lancaster, so here’s my question for all you fab fans out there, what do you prefer as a spy name?

Cover reveal!

One of the best things about Fierce Ink Press (my first publishers, who have since gone out of business) was that they introduced me to Emma Dolan, the illustrator who created all the covers for the Portia Adams Adventures.

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Well, it would seem destiny (and Emma’s considerable talent) have brought us together again, because DCB has commissioned her to create the book cover for Pickles vs the Zombies!

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Conveniently available for pre-order on Indigo or Amazon

A site that does more

It’s finally time to update this site to do more – with my next series of books.

Pickles vs the Zombies will be coming out in the fall of 2019 with DCB Publishing, and I will need a place to update you all on its progress!

The next Portia Adams book is moving into adult territory, and was picked up by Cormorant Books, currently set to be published in the spring of 2020.

So, time to update this site to incorporate more than [just] Portia and her friends. Stand by for some pretty wicked introductions to Pickles and her fellowship of marvellous mammals.

Hosting the YA Stage again at Word on the Street Toronto this weekend!

It’s Word on the Street time again, and I will be in my usual spot – hosting a bunch of awesome YA authors in the TEEN SPIRIT stage!

Check out the sched here: http://thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto/event-stage/teen-spirit/

Bring your friends, get your books signed, or complete your collection of Portia Adams books!