Monday 23th February
Hey, I thought it was supposed to rain all the time in Seattle! You know, with all the sparkly vampires and everything... But the Cullens must have been in hiding for my visit, because the sun was out and shining the whole time. I reckon you're kidding me about the grey skies ;-)
My first stop, with my gorgeous escort Diane, was at the Jane Addams Middle School, a new school that's just opened in a revamped building. The students were super-friendly and super-helpful, especially Angel and Sandesh who were my hosts for the day along with dedicated librarian Laurie (and thank you for my special Seattle honey products, Laurie - I love them!). Laurie, together with the fabulous Nancy from Barnes & Noble, Northgate, is organising a Book Fair right now to raise funds for Jane Addams and their music bands and clubs. It's a fantastic project, so if you live in Seattle, do get on down to Barnes & Noble at Northgate and buy something to support this wonderful cause.
After a Seattle sushi lunch with Diane, and a quick stop at Fran's chocolate shop (my taste buds nearly died of happiness), we were off to Bryant Elementary for my last school event. It was a great one to go out on, with plenty of lively students in the audience from grades four right down to kindergarten - and the little 'uns were so well-behaved! I loved Anne's wonderful library with its welcoming foyer and posters and murals.
I had a little free time after Bryant to head down Pine Street to the Pike Place market (Suzy and Juliet in Portland were the first to tell me to go there, and it was such good advice). I caught plenty of fish-throwing (though luckily I didn't have to catch any actual fish) and had a fabulous time shopping. And of course I had to hit the original Starbucks! On my way back to the hotel I stopped in at the downtown Barnes & Noble to say hi to Molly and the staff there, and do loads of book-signing. Thank you for letting me scrawl on so much of your stock!
Finally, it was off to Northgate for my very last event at the Barnes & Noble there. Nancy had done a fantastic job organising and promoting a fun and friendly event that also benefited the Jane Addams book fair - and extra special thanks go to Carolyn and Mari, who came along at the last minute to handle the school side of things. Carolyn dropped everything (including dinner!) to help out, and we were so grateful to you both. THANK YOU! And it was so great to meet you!
It was a terrific turnout, and as always I loved meeting everyone and chatting to you all about the Erin Hunter books. And a huge shout-out to Sydney and Griffin (and your patient parents), who were not just the last in the queue on Wednesday, but the last of this tour! I had a blast, so thank you to Nancy and everyone at Barnes & Noble, both for a great event and for my Seattle magnets, chocolate and book!
So the Survivors: Storm of Dogs tour reached its end, which was sad - but I hope one day I'll be back. My absolute final treat was seeing my aunt and uncle for breakfast on Thursday morning - we hadn't met up for twenty years, and they'd come down specially from Victoria, British Columbia. It was fabulous to see them!
So it's bye for now, Pack-mates - but I'd love to see you all again. Thank you for a wonderful, memorable tour, and for being the best fans and readers in the world.
Howls, hugs and kisses to you all!
Friday 19th February
Yet more unexpected weather conditions in Portland, Oregon - it was gorgeously sunny and warm! The plane there was packed, and I'm not surprised - I loved Portland. I only knew it before from the series Grimm, and I remember reading that the producers chose the city for its fairy tale atmosphere. They were right! The trees, the hills and so many gorgeous gingerbread-style houses really contribute to its beauty. My hotel, the Heathman, was so full of character, and is, it turns out, extremely popular with authors - they have a whole library full of first editions (to which is now added a copy of Survivors, thanks to lovely Suzy at Barnes & Noble, Bridgeport!)
I loved doing my event at this store. Suzy and Juliet made me feel right at home, and it was great fun chatting to all the Erin Hunter fans in the long signing queue (and it was wonderfully long - thank you for your patience!). Natalie and Madeline (aka Darkshine) deserve a very special mention - they came all the way from Las Vegas to be there! Natalie gave me a beautiful rose that she'd made herself, and Madeline a fabulous drawing of Alpha. Thank you so much for those, guys, and for making such an effort to come along!
I was given more beautiful pictures by Grace (aka Shortstripe), this time of her own warrior cat Shortstripe and of one of my favourites - Scourge! Grace, these are wonderful - thank you!
At almost the end of the queue (wow, you guys are patient!), Madeleine and her sister Riley (and their Mom!) showed me photos of the most incredible cake, one that had been specially made for Madeleine's birthday. It was decorated with scenery from the books and lots of little warrior cats (all of which they had later preserved for posterity). What a work of art it was - and the lady who made it hadn't read the books before she took on the project. But she'd caught up quickly! It was an amazing work of art, guys - no wonder you were proud of the result!
I spent my day off on Monday at the Willamette waterfront and the serenely beautiful Lan Shu Chinese Garden. Wow - what a very special part of Portland. I could have stayed there all day - it was a mesmerising place. But I wanted to get back to the Heathman in time for the five o'clock opening of the library cabinets! It was fascinating to browse the signed book collection for an hour; there are so many amazing authors represented. It was great to meet Amy the librarian, too, and she pointed me in the direction of Powell's bookstore, which she assured me would still be open! I hurried down there and sure enough, the huge store was still bustling. And I really mean huge! It was a fabulous place with friendly staff, and they let me sign lots of Erin Hunter books as well as some of my own Rebel Angels. A real bonus was meeting Shengyao and her dad, who had come in looking for Erin books - we met by complete chance. Shengyao only began learning English two years ago, yet she is already well through the Warriors series! Shengyao, you totally rock.
I was excited to set off next morning for my two school events. My media escort Marilyn met me and we set off for Deer Creek Elementary, where I was welcomed by Ben, Erika and the principal, Tiffany. I had a blast - the students were so fun and lively and asked great questions! And later that morning I had an equally wonderful time at Metzger Elementary, where there were amazing posters waiting for me that had been signed by all the students. You guys were terrific, especially Kani and Geovanni who introduced my event so professionally!
I was sad to leave, and to say goodbye to the wonderful Suzy and Juliet from Barnes & Noble. Thank you, guys, for a wonderful time! Marilyn, though, treated me to a fabulous drive around Portland before I left, so I could see more of this beautiful city. The views, especially of Mount Hood and Mount St Helens, were breathtaking. Thank you so much, Marilyn, for this bonus treat.
I was at Union Station in good time for the train that would take me north to Seattle... But that's for another blog! I'll let you know how it went on my final stop in a few days. - but for now, thank you you SO much, Portland, and Pack-howls till we (I hope!) meet again.
Friday 17th February
Well, I thought I was heading for more snow when I set off for Boulder, Colorado, but I couldn't have been more wrong! I arrived at night but by the time I woke up in the morning, the sun was high and the air was warm and people were already basking in t-shirts on the sidewalk. The weather's weird, but I've got to say I like it when it's *this* weird!
I was lucky to have nearly a whole day off, so I set out to explore the gorgeous town of Boulder. When I mentioned on Twitter that I was heading for Colorado, a friend tweeted straight back to say "Go to Boulder, fab little town!" And Claire, you were so right... I started in the Pearl Street Mall (fabulous), moved on for a hibiscus cooler (or three) in the Dushanbe Tea House (breathtakingly beautiful), then took a hike up Boulder Creek towards the mountains (stunning!). With my John Denver earworm in my head (apparently everyone gets that), I managed to tear myself away from this gorgeous neck of the woods, only so I could make a planned call to my kids back home!
By 5 o'clock I was getting very excited for my event at Boulder Books on Pearl Street - a lovely bookstore that, like Doctor Who's Tardis, is a lot bigger on the inside. Erin, together with her fabulous staff including Megan, Sarah and Patty, gave me a warm welcome, as did you Erin fans - Claire, Laurel and Audrey, I loved your cat outfits! Your graphic poster "How the battle with the Dark Forest SHOULD have ended" was just brilliant! And Audrey, I adored your drawing of Storm - so sad yet determined, and you even included her torn ear. I'm going to show it to Inbali, too, and she's going to love it. And a shout-out to Caroline, too! It was so great to see you all.
I had so much fun meeting all of you who came, and talking about Survivors - and answering all your questions. I can't say it often enough - I have so much fun chatting to Erin fans. You rock!
Finally, I just have to mention the Hotel Boulderado - it's totally haunted! - which is an amazing place. Big thanks to everybody there, and to William and William my fabulous drivers (I was thrilled to bits when William #1 quoted my book Firebrand!)
I could have stayed, basking in the Boulder sunshine, forever... But it was time to set out for Portland, Oregon. And I'll let you know very soon how much I enjoyed that too!
Pack-howls from a Rocky-Mountain-High
Friday 13th February
I just knew I was going to enjoy Dayton, Ohio - I had such a terrific time when I visited Cincinnati a few years ago (for Survivors 1: The Empty City! That seems like yesterday!). So it was fabulous to meet my lovely media escort Annette, who used to work at the amazing Joseph-Beth bookstore in Cincinnati (still one of my absolute favourite stores!). She drove me to my first school, Weller Elementary, where I met Theresa the principal, her wonderful staff, and more than 400 kids! And you were all TERRIFIC! I had an absolute blast - as usual I had to be almost dragged offstage (I'm from Glasgow - we're renowned for how much we can talk!) A huge special thank you goes to Alexa, who made sure I had everything I needed for my talk.
After a quick bite to eat in my New Favourite Restaurant - McCormick and Schmick, and you HAVE to have their Coast-to-Coast tuna! - we arrived for my event at Books & Co, which is a stunningly beautiful big bookstore with fabulous, enthusiastic staff. Before my event, Annette and Sharon the manager kept losing me - the truth is, I was hiding among the shelves because I had plans to stay and live there. But they found me, and I then enjoyed a really fun event. It was so fabulous to meet Erin fans from Dayton - including Jessica, who I know from my Facebook page! Hi Jessica! And thanks Hollyleaf - or Shaylee - for showing me your fabulous drawing of the warrior cats and asking me to sign it!
The next morning I was off to Orchard Park School - in the snow again! - where again I had the most terrific time, thanks to Principal Brian Snyder, Janice from the office, Heather the librarian and Tony who I met afterwards. It was so great to meet you all and to talk to your students, who had terrific questions to ask. You were all brilliant!
At last, sadly, I had to catch the plane for Colorado - but not before Annette had introduced me to the Dorothy Lane Market (she could hardly get me out of there!) and Graeter's unbelievably amazing ice cream (black raspberry chocolate chip and salted caramel - yes, I had TWO scoops, because I'm greedy that way and I couldn't choose). I had such a fabulous time with Annette, meeting so many enthusiastic readers in Dayton - but sadly, again, I had to leave. This time for Boulder, Colorado, which I'm told is truly beautiful....
I'll report back soon! Pack-howls and Happy Valentine's Day to you all!
Monday 2nd February
I can hardly believe it's been a year since my last Survivors tour, for The Broken Path - and that the Storm Of Dogs Tour is right around the corner. A week today (Sunday) I'll be flying out to Alexandria, Virginia - and I can hardly wait!
I've said it before and I'll say it again - I love meeting Erin Hunter fans. You're all so welcoming, so friendly and so knowledgeable about the worlds of the Warriors, Seekers and Survivors. I know I'm going to have a great time introducing you to this final book in the first series - because I always have the time of my life touring for Survivors.
Our dogs have come such a long way, both physically and emotionally, since the Big Growl hit Lucky's hometown back in Book One: The Empty City. The Pack has made new allies as they travelled through a changed land, and they've made plenty of enemies - and they've lost friends and comrades, too. They've learned things about themselves; they've discovered strengths they never knew they had. And over all their journeys has hung the terrifying threat that haunts Lucky's dreams - the Storm Of Dogs...
Well, now it's here!
Just what is it that threatens our dogs - and what exactly does it have to do with the young Fierce Dog who actually chose the name Storm? A chill went through Lucky's fur at his young friend's Naming Ceremony - did he have good reason for that sense of dread? Not long to wait now to find out - Storm Of Dogs will be released (in all its fury!) on 10th February. And that's the day I'll be in Alexandria, VA for our first events of the tour.
From Virginia I'll be traveling to Dayton, Ohio; Boulder, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington State. If you're anywhere near, do come along and say hi - I'd love to meet you all! I've never been to this part of the States before, and I'm so excited my suitcase is already out and ready, a week in advance. My own Pack-mates - dogs Cluny, Milo and Otto, together with warrior cats Pebble and Dash - are not too happy about this, because they know what it means: that I'm off having fun without them! But I've promised to bring them all presents...! And I am so looking forward to showing you some photos of them all. By the way, you are going to fall in love with Michi, my co-Erin Inbali's dog - I've got some pictures of him to show you, too, and he's ADORABLE!
So check back here next week, because I'll be bringing you up to date with what's happening on the tour. Here we go, Pack-mates - prick your ears and keep your noses sharp, because we're hitting the road soon!
Excited Pack-howls to you all from me!
Thursday 20th February
I know I say it all the time, but it's true: I am loving the southwestern part of the States. After a wonderful time in Phoenix, AZ, I headed east for what turned out to be four fabulous days in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I didn't know anything about Albuquerque except for the Breaking Bad connection! So I was thrilled to visit the Balloon Museum for my first event, because to my shame I didn't know that Albuquerque was the site for huge balloon fiestas. If you ever come to the city, you have to see this incredible museum. The speeded up videos of a day at the autumn balloon festival was enough to convince me that I have to come back and see it one October. Even on a small screen it looked spectacular!
Laurie Magovern from the museum and Connie Griffin from Bookworks were there to introduce me to a lovely audience of Erin fans, and I had a simply amazing time. Connie had even arranged a piper, the fab and talented Bryce, to welcome me with a rousing rendition of 'Flower of Scotland'. I was thrilled!
Another adorable local personality came along: Travellin' Jack, a simply GORGEOUS English bulldog, and his personal assistant Jill. Jack is an author himself, with his own blog, and he has raised over $18,000 for charity! I loved him, and hoped I was doing his species justice as he fixed me with those big gorgeous eyes. I had a feeling I'd be in trouble if I didn't! Jack gave me a couple of his collectable cards, and even agreed to sit at the signing table with me. Jack, you are a star!
I was just as delighted to meet Andrea, who came along from the local Wolf Refuge. I would have loved to meet some of her charges, many of whom are half-wolves like Alpha in Survivors. What a terrific cause, and Andrea and Stephanie at the refuge are doing all they can to improve the image of the beautiful wolf, and take away the 'Big Bad' label.
I so loved meeting you all at the event, especially Laurie's gorgeous daughter Hope; Nik and her Dad; Avery and Jessica a.k.a. Ivystar and Moonfrost of Moonclan; Miranda (a.k.a. Frozenstar of Iceclan), who owns a beautiful poodle named Maggie; Callie, who showed me a video of her gorgeous half-Siamese, Chai; Anna (Shadowpaw of Runeclan) of the WarriorCats Awesomeness Roleplay Group; and Abby, who had made her very own Riverclan t-shirt (and her Dad, who had been an extra in Breaking Bad! I'll be looking out for you in my next rewatch!). Masha (Shadowstar) is a huge Warriors fan who was enormously helpful in answering all the Warriors questions that stumped me! And it was terrific to chat to Emma and Callie both before and after the event. You guys were so much fun, and full of questions!
Connie presented me with a beautiful folder as a memento, with gorgeous postcards and drawings, and contributions from many of the fans at the museum as well as Debi, Riley, Brynley and Tiziana. Thank you so much; I will treasure it!
Monday was Presidents' Day, so I had a free day to explore Albuquerque. Of course I took the famous Candy Lady's Breaking Bad tour of the city... It was a hoot! I loved every minute and was so excited to see all the locations I recognised. Take the tour if you're a fan of the show and you're ever in the city! Afterwards, Connie from Bookworks was incredibly kind, driving me out to the tram that ascends Sandia Peak. It's the longest of its kind and rises to more than 10,000 feet at the peak! Now, I'm rather scared of heights, but I was determined to go, and I'm so glad I did. The views are spectacular; I saw a stunning sunset on the way up, and the beautiful lights of Albuquerque on the way down. It's an experience I'll never forget, and I'm so grateful to Connie for taking me up there. On our way home we stopped at Bookworks itself, which is a lovely shop. I can't tell you how many people in ABQ said to me, "I love Bookworks; you must go there!" And I'm so pleased that I did. Long may it thrive!
On Tuesday my wonderful escort Jeff Silverman drove me out to Vista Grande Elementary. I can tell you, it's called 'Vista Grande' for a reason! There can't be a school with a more spectacular view, looking right across the valley towards Sandia Peak and the mountains. The students there were terrific fun, asking lots of questions, and Angie Adams the librarian was so welcoming. It was wonderful to meet you all! A special thank you to Jessie, who met me at the school and guided me to the hall for the event, and who then came along to the afternoon event at her own school, Mountain View.
Mountain View was, of course, another well-named school! Close to Vista Grande, it's a middle school, and the event was held in its wonderful library. The students here were a bundle of enthusiasm and I loved talking to you, and answering your many questions. It was such a lively event and I had the best time!
And yet again, I know I always say it, but... I was so, so sorry to leave Albuquerque. It's a mesmerisingly beautiful place. I spent a lot of time in the historic Old Town, which was close to my fun and friendly hotel. Everyone I met was so welcoming, and I wanted to stay! So I hope one day I'll be back... But in the meantime, I'm off to exciting Dallas, Texas. I know it's going to be a whole lot different to the Dallas near my home in Scotland, which has, uh, one street and no shops at all...!
I'll report back from Dallas in a day or two, but meanwhile... Pack-howls to you all, especially the lovely people of New Mexico!
Tuesday 18th February
This southwest part of the States is so beautiful, and completely fascinating to someone like me who's totally new to the area. Apache Junction was like nowhere I've been before, and I loved every inch of it.
My wonderful escort Lois Brown drove me out to Cactus Canyon Junior High School the morning after I arrived in Phoenix, Arizona. There Jennifer Cameron (great Scottish name!) introduced me to a group of students who are really keen readers, and many of whom we big Erin Hunter fans too.
Apache Junction is out in the Arizona desert, and wow, it was a stunning place. The skies are so huge and clear and the rocky desert landscape is breathtaking. I'd love to see it when the flowers bloom! My event at Cactus Canyon was attended not just by students from the Middle School, but by some from the High School too, and I loved meeting you all and talking to you about Survivors. You have such a beautiful library, as well, and I especially coveted the magnificent READ bookshelf, formed out of letters, that Jennifer had had made specially for the school. Sierra and Julia, thank you for your lovely letter, and I'm so sorry I didn't get to meet you. Kylie, I'll be sure to check out you and your friends' work on YouTube and DeviantArt as soon as I get home. As for the young lady who sold me some Girl Scout peanut butter cookies: they were delicious!
The same evening an event had been arranged at the amazing Changing Hands bookstore, where I met the lovely Brandi Stewart and her staff. Brandi gave me a gift of a fabulous t-shirt, bearing the words FICTIONAL CHARACTER. I reckon I'll have to let some of my own characters borrow it, whenever they get uppity, just to remind them that they ARE fictional! :-)
It was terrific fun talking to a super crowd of Erin fans. I know I say this every time, but it's true, Erin fans are the most wonderful people (and so are your parents!) You're all so patient as well as friendly, and I love hearing about your own pets. Thanks especially to Christiana, who drew me a gorgeous picture of Tigerstar and Scourge (my favourites) just while she was waiting in the signing queue! How talented is that?! And Changing Hands is an amazing bookstore. It even SMELT fantastic!
Next day, Lois and I were off again to a super Charter School, the Center for Educational Excellence. It was great to see as soon as we walked in the door that a Book Fair was in progress; it's obviously a school that supports reading big time! Thanks to Sharon O'Hanlon and also to Melody (I hope I've spelled your name correctly), a parent who clicked through my PowerPoint images and left me free to talk (which I love to do!). The students were all so enthusiastic and as always, full of great questions!
I adored Phoenix, and had such a great time meeting you all. And thank you, Lois, for showing me around this beautiful area. The restaurant where we had lunch was a real treat, especially seeing the spectacular view, and meeting and chatting to the well-traveled Saul!
I'm longing to come back to Arizona already, but now I've set off for Albuquerque, New Mexico, in search of more canine adventures with Lucky and his Pack. I can't wait for that either! Talk soon, Erin readers, and in the meantime happy Pack-howls to you all!
Monday 17th February
Los Angeles was every bit as much fun as I expected. What a beautiful part of the world, and oh wow, Californians are so friendly and welcoming!
I started my third Survivors tour here at Santa Monica, Claremont and Upland. My fantastic escort Larry Sulkis was my guide around this lovely area as he took me to Franklin Elementary and Grant Elementary Schools. Ellen Mark and Petra Wolfe (great name!), the respective librarians, were incredibly welcoming hosts, and I enjoyed both schools enormously. The wonderful Frank Varela of Barnes and Noble was there too, and that evening I visited Barnes & Noble in Santa Monica. It's in the most beautiful area, lively and pretty at night, and the event was huge fun.
The questions from the fans were terrific. It was great to see that four of you girls had created your own amazing Erin Hunter t-shirts! Another member of the audience was an incredibly well-behaved little Yorkshire terrier. She was adorable! I had to warn her to put her paws over her ears for the scary parts of the reading...
A special hi! to Shelby, who gave me a beautiful drawing, of Graystripe and of one cat of her own creation with great question-mark markings! Thanks too, Shelby, for your lovely letter, and do keep writing your own wonderful stories! Shelby and her friend had even made their own Warriors board game in 5th Grade!
Now, there was one young man who gave me his email address asking me to get in touch so he could ask about writing. I thought I had tucked away the slip of paper with your address VERY carefully - but maybe I was too careful! I think it may have gone astray, so PLEASE, if you're reading this, do get in touch through my website!
Next morning, we were off to Claremont and to Sycamore Elementary (hi guys!), and to Vista Del Valle school in Upland. Annie Bigelow of Mrs Nelson's Toy and Book Shop came along with us, and it was great to meet her too.
It was so much fun talking to the students and teachers. Lydia Hernandez at Sycamore Elementary introduced me to some 200 students, and I had the best time talking about The Broken Path and the latest adventures of our Survivor dogs. There were, as usual, lots of fantastic questions - Q & As are always my favourite part of these events, because something unexpected always comes up, and it's fun to look at the books and the dogs with new eyes!
At Vista Del Valle School, the after school clubs from Condit and Oakmont had come along to join us. Cindy Dewey (another great and appropriate name!), the recently retired librarian who is moving up north, had organized the event and it was ace fun. Students Adonis and Sebastian had created a fantastic 'Survivors: A Dog's Life' poster, featuring them and their dogs. I loved it! When it came time for my talk, Kendal and Priscilla gave me a lovely and very professional introduction. Thank you, girls!
Later that same afternoon, I visited the Upland Library in N. Euclid, where I had huge fun meeting the librarians and Erin fans who made gorgeous Survivors bookmarks while we chatted. It was a lovely experience: really fun and informal, and I LOVED meeting you all. The library is gorgeous and it's lucky enough to have its own Library Dog, Amelia. She is adorable, and very dignified too - but she was kind and patient enough to pose for photos!
I wish I could have stayed longer in California, but I had to dash away to get to the airport to catch my flight to Phoenix, Arizona. I love it too, and I'll write about that soon, but meanwhile I'll miss LA, Claremont and Upland, because you guys were wonderful! I'll take many happy memories with me.
Big pack-howls till next time!
Monday 10th February
Ever since my last Survivors tour, I've been looking forward to this one. Well, I arrived in LA yesterday, Saturday 8th (my first visit to this city) and I already love it. What a fabulous part of the States, and I'm just as excited about my future stops in Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. I know I'm going to have a great time because there's no-one more welcoming and fun than Erin Hunter fans!
I couldn't have picked a better time to swap Dallas, Scotland for Dallas, Texas. People keep telling me it's cold here right now, but for me it's gorgeous weather - Scotland's been so cold and rainy all winter, this feels like toasty bliss!
I'm so excited to talk to you about the fourth SURVIVORS episode, The Broken Path. This instaLlment in the adventures of the Pack sees Lucky and Alpha finally coming to a kind of truce, just in time to face new dangers. They have to contend with not only Blade and the Fierce Dogs, but a terrifying new threat in the form of a murderously crazy dog and his Pack. I can't wait to introduce you to these new characters. I do love all our dogs; I have an especially soft spot for Lucky and his friends, of course, but I'm always intrigued by the dogs they meet on their quest for a new home, and I meet new favourites all the time. I hope you're going to be as thrilled by this new episode as I am!
Pack-howls to you all Lots of love,
Tuesday 14th May
As a writer I should be ashamed of myself - because I can't describe how much fun I had at my visit to Pineville Elementary in North Carolina today. What an AMAZING school you are!
My gorgeous and completely charming media escort Lynda drove me out to Pineville, where they're building a new school next to the old one. I hope you are all enormously happy when you move into the new building, but you're bound to be, because all of you at Pineville, both staff and students, are wonderful. The gym was packed and the audience was lively and friendly, and I loved talking to you about SURVIVORS. I wish I could have answered all your questions, because the ones I had time for were terrific.
Afterwards, the fantastic Principal Brian Doerer invited individual students up to the microphone to say thanks, and I found that SO touching, I had chills in my spine (good ones!). I was thrilled to bits to hear that so many of you were writers, and that you'd found my talk inspiring - let me tell you, I was just as inspired by all of you.
Tahniah, thank you so much for your detailed record of your Fireclan, and for your simply beautiful drawings of the Warriors (including my favourite, Tigerstar!) I'll treasure them.
Maria, Erin and Lynn of Pineville Elementary, thank you so much for organizing the event. And Maria, thank you especially for your invitation to your summer home, Italy - I am determined to make it one day! And grateful shout-outs also go to Ryan and Whitney of Barnes & Noble, who put everything in place for the event. I came out on a high!
With an hour or two between events, Lynda led me astray - to a gorgeous shopping mall nearby. I had a blast! It was such fun and the cafe at Nordstrom does the best salads ever. And I've taken care of rather a lot of birthday presents for the next few months...
Whitney of Barnes & Noble was waiting for us again at Charlotte Latin School, where she introduced us to B. Lee and the wonderful teachers, librarians and parent volunteers. What a beautiful campus you have, and yet again I found myself stunned by the enthusiasm (and the Warriors-knowledge) of the students. Your questions were terrific and once again I was SO sorry not to have time to answer more of them. This was an absolutely lovely way to round off my school visits on this tour!
But there was one evening event still to go - at Barnes & Noble in Charlotte. Thank you, Whitney, Ryan and store manager Peter! A massive audience was waiting when I arrived - as we say in the UK, I was gobsmacked! I loved meeting you all.
Brittany, thanks so much for showing me photos of your gorgeous Pack - Daisy, Ginger and Hershey!
Rachel, I loved your story idea, and it was so beautifully illustrated.
Katie, your poster of Warriors, Survivors AND Seekers was stunning! Thank you!!
Just as beautiful, Ashton, was your depiction of the three Seeker bears - I am constantly amazed by the talent of the fans. Thank you!!
Ava, thanks for showing me your drawing of Hollyleaf on your phone - it's brilliant! Riley had drawn Silverstream - one of my favourite characters. Sydney showed me sketches she had made in her Warriors Guide, which were amazing - I was delighted to sign them. Ellisa asked me to sign a special picture of Firestar for her friend Jessica, who couldn't make it - how sweet of you, Ellisa, and I hope Jessica loved your drawing! Julia, I adored your artwork showing Longtail.
A special shout-out to Mackenzie, #1 Fan of Tigerstar - I'm competing with you for that title, Mackenzie!
Elisabeth, thank you for your lovely note - and we'll try to write more books very soon! I loved the little drawing you enclosed of Lucky.
Rosie, a special tail-wag to you for lasting all the way at the end of the huge queue. Thanks to you all for your patience!
Lastly, I want to say a special hello to a certain young lady who lost her dog just that day. You were too upset to come, but your dad asked me to sign a book for you. I am so sorry you lost your friend and Pack-mate, and you'll miss her so much, but she will always be in your heart.
My events in Charlotte, North Carolina, brought an end to my tour for A HIDDEN ENEMY. What can I say? I've SO enjoyed meeting you all, chatting to you, and hearing about your pets, your families, your schools, your hopes for future series, your favourite characters...
THANK YOU for being the best students, teachers, fans, librarians, media escorts and booksellers - in the WORLD! I hope to see you all again one day - and in the meantime, may the Sky-Dogs look with favour on every one of you!
Lots of love,
Monday 13th May
Much as I'm loving all the school and bookshop events, it was really fun to have a day off in Richmond, Virginia yesterday - I managed to see quite a lot of the city, which is beautiful. I saw the Capitol and all its surrounding monuments (and on SUCH a fabulous day - oh boy, have I been lucky with the weather). Then there was a trip to the Edgar Allen Poe Museum - my kind of creepy - and the Virginia Holocaust Museum, which of course was breathtaking and horrifying and sad.
Afterwards I took a stroll up the Canal Walk to Tredegar Park and Ironworks. Back home I'll be boring everyone to death with my tour photos, because I've taken hundreds - this country is SO beautiful...
On Monday morning it was back to school for me - first of all the Orchard House School, a lovely building in a beautiful area of Richmond, where Elizabeth introduced me to a fabulous audience of girls, and I talked the hindlegs off a Labrador as usual. Thanks to BBGB Books and especially to Jill for organising these visits in Richmond. The girls made lots of suggestions about what I should try to see in Richmond, so straight afterwards Paul drove me down Monument Avenue, which is as gorgeous as you all promised!
In the afternoon it was off to St Christopher's School, where I enjoyed myself hugely in their beautiful auditorium. Lucinda, thank you for organising such a special event at this gorgeous school - boys, you were all amazing and I loved talking to you!
I so loved going to BBGB Bookstore in the afternoon, where Jill and Jenesse looked after me brilliantly and gave me a couple of books to take home to my twins. They will be thrilled! Lotti and Grace, Jill's twin daughters, helped out behind the counter and you were both ACE! Twins rule, of course!
I've got to say a special HELLO AND THANK-YOU to Cassie and her dad. They drove two and a half hours, all the way from Wake Forest, North Carolina, to be at the event! It was fantastic to meet you - special Pack-howls to you! (And I loved Cassie's Warriors t-shirt, made for her by her dad!)
I'm off to North Carolina next - the weather forecast is wonderful, and I just know the events will be, too! Thank you everybody, especially Paul who drove me around and looked after me so well!
Lots of love,
Sunday 12th May
Well, I've reached Richmond VA on the Erin Hunter tour, and it's beautiful. (I was driven here by my lovely media escort Paul, who was kind enough to tell me I didn't snore when I fell asleep in the car... :-) )
Back to Friday morning, though, which started very early with a 5.30am appointment with my driver in the hotel lobby in Pennsylvania. I think I probably snored a bit on that journey, for sure! But it was fun to catch a train from beautiful 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, and on arrival, it was straight off to St Stephen and St Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia. This school has a stunningly lovely campus, and librarian Mary Catherine introduced me to an audience of great students!
From there it was straight to Abingdon Elementary School in Arlington, VA - another terrific school. Erin and Meghan were wonderful hosts and I had great fun meeting a lively bunch of students!
Genuinely, I have the best time meeting Erin Hunter fans, talking at all the schools and answering your questions. The teachers, librarians, students and bookstore staff are just phenomenal.
And speaking of phenomenal, that evening I was off to Hooray For Books in Alexandria. What a GORGEOUS bookstore - I spent ages admiring your chicken logo ("book book book") and was delighted to be given a mug featuring the HFB chicken and frog. I'm terribly fond of my own chickens, Mapp and Lucia, so I loved this!
I just hope everyone at the event had as much fun as I did. Cynthia brought me a lovely letter for all the Erins - she's one of those champion readers who has read almost the whole series!
Jessica, you brought me a Survivors cover you'd designed yourself - I love it! It's a fabulous image of Lucky's face.
Elizabeth - thank you for your fantastic drawing. I am so pleased your favourite character is Sweet - I'm kind of fond of her myself!
And Abby - I have to give you a howl-out for two reasons. Firstly, for your gorgeous picture of Lucky and Sweet - I adore it. And secondly (and this goes for your dad, too, who is a hero!) - thank you for coming all that way to see me! It was an eight-hour drive from Newburn, North Carolina, and I'm HUGELY grateful that you made the effort!
Massive thanks to everybody at Hooray For Books - especially Trish and Ellen - for such a lovely event, and for organising the schools. You are the tops!
Saturday, not being a school day, felt almost quiet. There was only one event, at Takoma Park in Maryland, and once again I had a whale of a time. This was organised by Kerri of the wonderful Politics & Prose bookstore. It was wonderful to meet you and Karen, and especially Kathlyn, who came along to help with book sales - Kathlyn, big howls, you did a great job!
The auditorium at Takoma Park Public Library is just beautiful - it was a privilege to speak there. Camden and Lucia - I have to give you a special Pack-howl for being as patient as you were at the end of the queue - indeed, thanks to you all for your patience!
Hemi - I thought your t-shirt was fabulous and I was delighted to sign it.
Grace, you told me that SURVIVORS has inspired you to write - that is the most wonderful thing to hear, and I'm thrilled to bits!
And I met Ceilidh, Celeste and Jack. Now, a ceilidh is what we in Scotland call a really good party, and I wondered how you'd come by such a terrific name - and it turned out your mum had gone to Aberdeen University, the same as I did! That was really fun to discover (and I DO love that name!)
Paul was kind enough, in the hours between events, to show me around Washington DC. Well, WOW is all I can say. What a stunning city - literally, because I think my mouth was hanging open as I got my first real-life views of the White House, the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial (among much else). As for the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials, they're two of the most moving and beautiful monuments I've seen.
Paul tells me that JFK once said Washington was a combination of ‘southern efficiency and northern charm'... Once I'd worked that out, I thought it was very funny, but I have to disagree with JFK on that one (quite apart from the fact that on my two Erin Hunter tours, I've found both north and south perfectly charming and efficient!). As far as I'm concerned Washington has northern efficiency and southern charm (not to mention a fabulous restaurant in Carlyle's), and I was VERY reluctant to leave.
But as I said at the start, here I am now in Richmond, Virginia, and I'm loving it. See you in the next episode of this blog!
Lots of love (and wild tail-wags)
Friday 10th May
My mother is really keen on Pearl Buck - she sent me on a mission at the Edinburgh Book Festival to find Pearl's books and bring them back - so she was as thrilled as I was to find I'd be visiting the Pearl S. Buck Elementary School in Levittown, Pennsylvania.
When I arrived with my media escort Aileen - who is a real trooper, having been ill right up till the previous day - we found it's a really beautiful, smaller school, nestled in green parkland. Everyone there - staff and students - is contributing to a Guinness World Record reading attempt this year, in which they'll log more than a million minutes of book-time! It's an amazing effort and I wish you all the best of luck, though I'm absolutely sure you won't need luck when you're all such enthusiastic readers.
Having met up with Stephanie from the school and Bari from Barnes & Noble in Fairless Hills, I presented to a huge audience of 280 students, and had a ball! Afterwards, while I was signing books, one of the lovely teachers at the school, Mr Knight, presented me with one of his copies of Pearl Buck's ‘The Big Wave' to take home to my mother. I was so thrilled, and I know my mum will be too, so thank you so much! What's more, I then met Mr Knight's gorgeous Yorkshire terrier Rocco, who only narrowly escaped being dognapped and taken home in my suitcase. He was one of the kissiest dogs I've ever met and I adored him. I wonder if he'd like to join the Survivors Pack? :-)
After a wonderful lunch with Aileen in Carlucci's Italian restaurant (I recommend it!), we were off to Edgewood Elementary - where I had the most amazing reception from a gym-full of students. It was so exciting, I got quite nervous! There were LOTS of Warriors, Seekers and Survivors fans there, asking great questions as usual. I love seeing the response of fans to the Erin Hunter books - it's the most awe-inspiring experience to hear all your knowledge and opinions. I think you're all fabulous and I could get quite tearful over the lot of you :-)
As for the beautiful picture given to me by Morgan and her fantastic friends, I LOVE it! It's tucked safely into my case for the homeward journey - which I'm glad to say isn't for another week. I'm having far too good a time!
The day was rounded off in terrific fashion with a public event at Barnes & Noble in Fairless Hills. The audience was huge! And wonderful! Thank you SO much to all the fans who waited in the long queue. I really appreciated the support of Bari, Jenn, Barb and Kathleen, the staff at Barnes & Noble. You are SO organised (unlike me!) and made my visit tremendously enjoyable.
Morgan and Cara - a howl-out for lasting so long as the last in the queue!
There were some Erin super-readers present, fans who have read all or nearly all of the series - including Sophie, Robert, Ainsley, Cheryl and Will. You are champions! And Sophie, you came back especially to show me a photo of your birthday cake - which featured the Warriors. I LOVED it, thank you!
Brittany, you told me the Warriors series inspired you to draw and illustrate - that was wonderful to hear!
Heather, you want to be a writer - maybe an Erin! - and I bet you succeed. It was so great to meet you. (And I loved your bandaged-cat t-shirt!!)
Erin (hey!!), you couldn't make it to the store yourself, but you sent your Graystripe picture to be signed - it was fabulous!
Tyler, I adored your Warriors t-shirt, and your very delicately made wooden collage of Warriors characters.
Peter, thank you so much for your story idea about Sandclaw; you've obviously thought it over very carefully and I think it's fantastic!
Oh boy - Erin Hunter fans are SO talented.
Lots of you showed me photos of your own dogs. Aileen, my media escort who looked after me today, has the most gorgeous little black dog called Miska - she's a Russian Bolonka and I want to take her home. Actually, I wanted to take them all home! There was Chazz, who belongs to Kelsey; Teddy, who is Molly's dog; Sherlock, who belongs to Kelly/Moonfur (Sherlock's a rat terrier! I hadn't seen one before); Lauren's dog Clyde; and Challah, a German wolfhound who belongs to Anastasia. They were all ADORABLE.
Like so many of the fans tonight, Moonfur (aka Kelly) had a truly impressive Warriors t-shirt. You also gave me the most beautiful letter, which I'll show to the other Erins (though I'll hoard it for myself to treasure it!)
A special howl-out goes to Robby, who is a brand new fan - finding the books this very night. Welcome to the world of Erin Hunter, Robby!
Rochelle, of Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary, brought me a bar of her own handmade soap. Rochelle, thank you SO much!!
Rosepelt not only showed me her Warriors-themed homework folder; she brought me a bracelet she'd made herself. I'm still wearing it, Rosepelt, and plan to go on doing so! Thank you.
Celine - you didn't manage to come along tonight but you sent a gorgeous picture of Firestar as well as the loveliest letter. Thank you too!!
And Alanna: you gave me simply beautiful drawings of Bluestar and Brambleclaw - two of my favourite characters - and showed me your other amazing artwork. Not only that, but you gave me a bookmark featuring your very own Warrior Cat characters (including Bloodstone - and I've written a book called Bloodstone! WOW!). And to top it all off, you found my Warrior name with your own incredibly clever name chart. I am Swiftshine. And that makes me VERY happy!
In fact, you all made me very happy. Thank you ALL for making my visit to Pennsylvania so memorable! Now, though I'm sad as always to leave, I am setting off for Washington DC - and looking forward to new adventures.
Thank you, you wonderful Erin Hunter fans - and the amazing parents who brought you!
Thursday 9th May
I woke up on my first morning in Pennsylvania to some traditional Scottish weather! But the rain cleared fast and it turned into a warm sunny blue-sky day, perfect for my trip to Cynwyd Elementary in Haverford. My lovely media escort Ann met me in the hotel lobby and we set out on a slightly roundabout trip because (wait for it) a truck full of lard had overturned on the highway! Our minds boggled at the image but we decided not to go and look!
We arrived at Cynwyd in plenty of time to sign books and to meet the librarian Natalie and the wonderful and enthusiastic students of Cynwyd. By this time it was raining again - so heavily it was what we call a ‘Thunderplump' in Scotland (which sounds like a slightly overweight clan cat, now I come to think of it!). Ann was brilliant with an umbrella, though, and I didn't even get slightly wet.
I wish I could have stayed longer to chat and answer more of your great questions! Alas we had to scoot off to our next event, with Betsy at Penn Valley Elementary. This was just as much fun, with just as many fantastic questions, and afterwards I got to chat to the lovely Prachi while I signed books. She's a huge Warriors fan and we had fun talking dogs and hamsters - she has a teddybear hamster (a kind I hadn't heard of) called Snowball, who sounds like as much fun as my Buffy! It was brilliant to meet you, Prachi!
After a break in the afternoon (involving lunch in beautiful Philadelphia and some, *ahem*, shopping) Ann and I arrived at the most amazing bookstore, Children's Book World in Haverford. Here I met some amazing, friendly Erin Hunter fans, who brought me beautiful pictures and stories - Leyah even brought a Warriors song she had composed! Haverford PA is clearly full of talented fans. The guys at Children's Book World are just wonderful - Hannah, Heather (who came to the schools), Alison - and Julie, who has nine cats and the best Harry Potter t-shirt ever. Ann and I blagged some gorgeous book bags from Hannah - thank you Hannah, you're amazing! It was great to meet Rachel, too - I had the best time.
I was really sad to leave Haverford - but I'm so looking forward to my events in Fairless Hills. The kids, teachers, librarians and bookstore staff in this part of the world are just the greatest!
Thank-you barks and much love,
Wednesday 8th May
What a FANTASTIC time I had on my first day of the 2013 Erin Hunter Survivors tour!
This was my first visit ever to the north-eastern United States. After the excitement of a free day in New York on Monday (and what a beautiful city it is), I met up on Tuesday morning with SURVIVORS' editor and publicist from Harper Collins, Erica and Olivia. I had been looking forward so much to seeing these ladies and it was wonderful to meet them in person at last, instead of on Skype and email! Let me tell you, they are terrific! As we got to talking about our own real-life dogs and our SURVIVORS Pack, we got really excited about what's going to happen to Lucky and his friends over the next few books...
Driving down with Erica and Olivia through New Jersey, I discovered what a beautiful state it is. I understand now why it's called the Garden State. Dogwoods, azaleas, and cherry blossom made splashes of vivid colour in all the green as we drove to Verona. Sadly, Katey the librarian couldn't be there, but I was thrilled to meet the students and staff of Forest Avenue School. There were lots of thoughtful questions, and as always, requests for the Survivors to meet up with the Warriors and Seekers! We always think that would so so much fun if we could work it out somehow...
Lunch at Gregory Elementary School followed - and I had a blast. The students had made terrific displays, and had written enough Survivors stories to fill a huge folder - I am SO looking forward to getting them home and reading them properly! There's a tremendous Erin Hunter following at Gregory Elementary. As part of their presentation, Sam read out his story, written from a very original and quirky point of view; ‘Sam', it turns out, is in fact a secret identity for Spike - a dog who is going to report back to the dog community about the Erins. Now, that is downright scary!
I had such a great time meeting the students who had won the competition for the best stories (though I hear it was an incredibly difficult choice for the teachers because all of them were amazing!). Howl-outs go to all of you - Christina, Haneefah (Honeystripe), Chloe, Collin, Daniel, Anya, Ashton (Buffalohorn), Selena, Sam, Jeremie, Bowen (Thunderstar), Alexander, Georgina, Peter, Emma (who gave me some fantastic drawings), Olivia and Jose. I hope I haven't left anyone out! It was the most fun lunchtime I've had in ages and you were all brilliant!
Right after lunch I spoke to a massive audience from the school. What can I say?! You guys were all so enthusiastic and noisy and I LOVED every moment! Big howl-outs to Nathan for recognising a Papillon, and to Katie for her fab pug t-shirt!
I loved meeting the wonderful Julie Matz, and the rest of the staff at Gregory Elementary - you are amazing! Marisela Santiago from Watching Booksellers organised the school events, and I am so grateful. Afterwards Marisela took us to a public event at Montclair Public Library, which was huge fun - thank you so much to Marisela and the librarians of Montclair. This community has a jewel of a bookshop and a library to match, and it was wonderful to meet you all!
After that event, sadly, I had to say goodbye to Marisela and to Erica and Olivia. It's off to Pennsylvania for my next events, and based on today, I just can't wait! Thank you everybody for such a truly memorable day!
Howls and much love,
Pre-Tour Diary: Thursday May 2nd
I can't believe my next tour is coming up so fast. It seems like only last week that I came home (verrrry reluctantly) from my FIRST EVER trip to the States (really, no kidding!) And on Sunday I fly to JFK again, ready to hit Watchung, New Jersey; Haverford and Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania; Alexandria and Richmond, Virginia; Washington D.C.; and Charlotte, North Carolina. I am pretty much sitting on my suitcase in the hall, fidgeting and checking my watch. I am looking forward to the tour SO much, especially since I had such a fabulous time meeting Erin Hunter fans last September!
This time I'll be talking about the brand new Survivors #2: A HIDDEN ENEMY. It's out on May 7th, the same release date as the paperback of Survivors #1: THE EMPTY CITY! I can't wait to introduce you to all our new characters - like Alpha, and Moon, and Fiery. (Who, you say? You'll find out soon!) I love 'em all, and I hope I can get all these dogs through Customs!
I'll have to leave my own Pack behind, though, since they don't fit in my luggage the way Lucky and company do. Otto the Jack Russell/Papillon cross has been particularly naughty lately, having eaten another boot that was left in the porch. Milo the Papillon is upset because it's tick season again here in Scotland, and he HATES being combed. Cluny, my big gentle Labrador, is just... big, gentle Cluny. He doesn't see why he can't sit on my lap the way the others do.
As for my cats, Pebble and Dash, they will be furious. They don't get to sleep on the bed while I'm away - so as soon as the suitcase comes out, they will stop speaking to me. I see a catnip bribe becoming necessary...As for my cats, Pebble and Dash, they will be furious. They don't get to sleep on the bed while I'm away - so as soon as the suitcase comes out, they will stop speaking to me. I see a catnip bribe becoming necessary...
I'm counting the minutes to that airline departure, and I hope as many Erin Hunter fans as possible will come along and say hi! Check out the tour dates on the site, and here's hoping one of the fans I meet will be YOU!
Yours, wagging my tail wildly in ridiculous Labrador-y excitement,
Tour Diary #10: Tuesday March 12th
Sound the Last Post, draw closed the velvet curtains, bring out the broom to sweep the stage. There will be no more performances on the Spring Tour 2013 :(. But I went out in style, with my first ever trip by ferry to a day of events! (Not my first ever trip by ferry in my whole life, but definitely the first time I've had to sail over water with my Erin Hunter hat on.) I didn't realize Bainbridge Island in Seattle was quite so literally an island. It made a lovely start to the day, gliding across the sound toward the densely forested harbour. The water was flat calm so I didn't get seasick, which is always a major hazard for me. I promenaded around the sun deck but was nearly blown into the sea so spent most of the journey watching the scenery from inside.
My first event was another gigantic Gathering of schools at North Kitsap High School, which generously let us take over their beautiful auditorium. 600 students and their teachers filled the seats, and proved to be a lively and engaging audience as we did the Clan Quiz and pondered why I killed off Spottedleaf so soon. Special Purrs go to Brooklynn for letting me borrow her copy of Into the Wild for my reading, and to the very charming Tristan who came especially to see me. Tristan confessed to being a "Warriors nerd", and said that he first started reading the series in 6th grade. The fact that he drove himself to this event shows just how long we've been writing these books...
I had lunch in the gorgeous town of Bainbridge, which is a delightful low level wood-built place like something out of a movie set in pioneer times. Should you ever be lucky enough to visit, I highly recommend Mora, an ice cream and sorbet parlour with a hundred different flavours, all of them fabulous. I sampled salted popcorn (yup, salted popcorn FLAVOURED ICE CREAM), chocolate with hazelnut, chocolate with nutmeg and cinnamon, rose petal, and cheesecake-with-brownie flavour. In the end, I chose raspberry paired with chocolate and caramel, and it was incredible. Apparently the store offers next-day delivery to anywhere in the US. I am soooo tempted to order a quart to each of my hotels on the next tour.
The evening event was held in the delightful Pavilion cinema, a real live movie theatre with movies playing on the other screens at the same time. I resisted the urge to buy some popcorn to take on stage. Huge Thank You Purrs go to the staff at Liberty Bay Bookstore and the Eagle Harbor Book Company for joining forces to make this event happen. And more Thank You Purrs of course to everyone who made the trip to see me by land or sea!
Amazing Artwork Purrs were earned by Megan and by James, who also gets a mighty Stack Purr, along with Carmen, Sam and the marvellously named Justice. I sincerely hope this young man becomes a police officer. "Officer Justice" sounds like a character from a Marvel comic! Another Stack Purr goes to the very enchanting Natalie, who earns a Terrific T-shirt Purr and a Heavenly Hug Purr too. It was so lovely to meet you! And I'm sorry I made you feel a bit overwhelmed when I stroked your hair just before the event. :)
A Marvellous Names Purr goes to Emily for kindly sharing the whole of IceClan with me, including detailed descriptions and a whole host of brand new names to populate the next book. Numerous Name Purrs tonight go to all the Amelias and Emmas, in particular the Emma who was celebrating her 10th birthday with a party at the event! I hope you finished off your evening with dinner and perhaps a visit to Mora for ice cream. A Tremendous Twins Purr goes to Elizabeth and Grace, who were identical and adamant that they didn't want to be in the same photo together. Finally, a Special Purr is awarded to Autumn for my beautiful blue and white china kitty who sits on the edge of a shelf with cute dangling paws. I have just the place for her on my bookcase in my study!
And last of all, do you remember I promised to reveal my noteworthy ancestors at the end of the tour? Dawn of the Clans is a grand, indulgent, dramatic exploration of the Clans' family trees, and my own is almost as interesting. On my father's side, I am descended from a noble family called the Dukes of Bronte, the most famous of whom was Lord Horatio Nelson. Lord Nelson was the Admiral of the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s. His courage and daring battle strategies made him a hero throughout England. He died in the Battle of Trafalgar, and to commemorate his life a statue of him was placed on a tall, tall pillar, known as Nelson's Column, in the centre of London. If you ever go to Trafalgar Square, famous for its fountains and black stone lions, look out for the column and see if you can spot the statue at the top!
In contrast, on my mother's side I am descended from smugglers who lived in Cornwall, the county at the farthest south-west tip of England. The most famous of my smuggler ancestors was a man named Harry Carter, known as "The King Of Prussia Cove" after the beach where he liked to bring his illicit goods ashore. Harry Carter was transported to America by British Customs Officers twice as punishment for his crimes, but he always returned to Cornwall, and to the sea that he loved so much.
So, dukes and smugglers make up my history. Maybe you're inspired to see where you come from? If you live in America, then the chances are that your ancestors have come from far-flung corners of the globe, and could have some incredible tales to tell!
with love and best wishes
Tour Diary #9: Monday March 11th
I need not have been nervous at all ñ today's mega-event at the Jackson High School campus featuring every 4th and 5th grade student in the district of Oregon City ran like clockwork, thanks to the supreme organizational efforts of Jan the district librarian. Booming Thank You Purrs, Jan, for getting over 1,000 students in and out of the gymnasium in complete order, and super-quick time. 5th graders had to walk along the green line, 4th graders along the red, and all the seating areas were clearly labelled with school name and class. I was a bit disappointed not to have my own line to walk along, really.
You'd have expected 1,100 students to make some kind of noise, or at least wriggle as they sat on the hard floor or the creaky bleachers, but not Oregon City Clan. They treated me so kindly, and asked great questions without a squeak or a squirm out of place. I was sorry that we couldn't have talked for longer.
I was thrilled to see some faces from yesterday's event at Barnes & Noble, especially tiny Lyssa of the Heavenly Hug. There wasn't time to meet everyone afterwards, but I am able to award an Amazing Artwork Purr to dedicated fan Delia, who drew me a fabulous selection of anime-style cats.
The gymnasium emptied in a flash as my audience departed in a series of yellow buses, all waving to me from the windows. I was a bit stunned to be finished in less than an hour ñ this was