A new book! WHERE MAGIC HIDES

A new book! WHERE MAGIC HIDES
Just published!

I am thrilled to announce the publication of a new paperback from Welsh publisher Gomer. Where Magic Hides is a collection of seven brand-new stories set in Wales, with a twist of magic.

They are not re-tellings of traditional Welsh folktales or legends. With the exception of one story, they are all set in contemporary Wales and show bold, imaginative children encountering magic – whether they want to or not!

Roald Dahl famously said there is magic everywhere if you care to see it. Can you find magic even on the A465 Heads of the Valleys road to Merthyr? Yes! Other tales are set in Hay on Wye, Brecon, Beddgelert and the Radnorshire hills, so Welsh children especially will find something to inspire them here. 

Where Magic Hides celebrates imagination and kindness. Danny conjures an entire army of ice warriors to do his bidding on the snowy peaks of Pen y Fan. Rhiannon encounters a wild hill pony as glorious as a unicorn. Wil saves an ailing village with a generous wish. Other children encounter real mythical creatures – water leapers and trolls. It’s a magical mix, delivered with great warmth and heart, if I say so myself! 

Although the stories are newly-written, the ideas have been with me a long time. For twenty years I lived on a remote hill farm in the hills of Radnorshire. The landscape seeped into my bones (along with the wild Welsh weather!) Although I now live in England, I was easily able to conjure it again while I was writing, and it was pure joy to do so.

You can buy the book here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Where-Magic-Hides-Cat-Weatherill/dp/1785622994/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=where+magic+hides&qid=1568028696&s=books&sr=1-1

Unforgettable

Unforgettable

I’m currently nearing the end of what has been a wonderful project –

UNFORGETTABLE: Stories, comedy and songs about Life, Death and Sticky Toffee Pudding.

I’m working with Ruth Graham, who is a comedian and musician but also a funeral celebrant. She has conducted more than five hundred funerals to date! Together we created a show and two workshops, and we’ve been touring them around various venues in the West Midlands.

The project is essentially about remembering unforgettable people. We’ve been teaching people how to shape and share a story that celebrates a life, and explore how meeting someone unforgettable can shape our own life. And it’s all been great fun!! Lots of laughter. The project was timed to tie-in with Death Awareness Week, and the mention of that on the publicity clearly put many people off coming, which was a great shame. But keeping that connection quiet would have gone against the whole point of Death Awareness Week, which is to bring it out into the open and encourage people to talk 🙂

We have loved doing it, that’s for sure. If you’d like to hear more about it, here’s a link to the Unforgettable site: http://www.unforgettablestories.co.uk

Our beautiful handmade book, made by printmaker Francesa Kay. This will hold all the stories generated by the project, written by workshop participants

Kathmandu!

Kathmandu!

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It is always wonderful to be invited to visit an international school, but occasionally an invitation will be especially thrilling. This happened recently with my author visit to the British School Kathmandu.

Kathmandu had long been on my Bucket List, so I was deeply saddened to hear about the 2015 earthquake. Not only because of the lives lost and homes destroyed, but because so many treasured temples had collapsed like piles of cards.

So when I arrived in the city, with a few days free for sightseeing, the mighty Buddhist stupas and ancient Durbar squares of Kathmandu and Patan were top of my list. How were they looking now? Had they been rebuilt?

IMG_2732.jpgYes and no. The immense Swayambhunath and Boudhanath stupas have both been rebuilt and are stunning. Patan Durbar Square is still glorious upon first sight. But it soon becomes apparent that there are gaps, like missing teeth in a smile, where the wooden pagoda-type temples no longer exist. There are piles of bricks. Empty bases and plinths that used to have buildings standing upon them. Many, many walls on the surviving temples are being propped up by firm supports.

But the magic is still there, and the stories are glorious. How the local people, even in the midst of personal tragedy, rolled up their sleeves and helped conserve the buildings, literally brick by brick, salvaging and storing intricately carved doorway lintels and decorated panels. Everywhere there are piles of stonework and mountains of fallen tiles, all neatly stacked and ready to be used again. But it will be many years before the restoration is complete, and some temples will stay lost forever.

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What a wonderful city Kathmandu is… The British School is lovely too, with its rooftop staffroom and persimmon trees in the courtyard. I had a wonderfully warm welcome, and thoroughly enjoyed my week, working with every class in turn.

 

My visit clipped the end of the monsoon season, so the clouds were too low for me to see the Himalayas. But as I flew out, over a thick fleece of cloud, I noticed one that didn’t appear to be moving. Sure enough it was a peak, piercing the clouds like a sharp tooth, and as I watched, breathless with excitement, a whole string of them appeared, one by one. It was an exhilarating end to a fabulous trip. I hope I can return some day to see the restoration progress. And I fervently hope there will not be another earthquake to devastate this truly magical region.

Austria International Storytelling Festival

Austria International Storytelling Festival

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This is always a fabulous festival to do. My first was in 2003, and I have done four more since.

It is actually a series of festivals, in various locations around Austria. This time I performed in Graz at the Schauspielhaus (above), in a glass factory, in the lingerie department of a 1913 department store, and in a wonderful floating cafe/bar on the river.

Then it was on to Linz, and the Brucknerhaus. What a place to sing! Glorious acoustics.

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I was sharing the stage with wonderful acts like the acrobatic duo Liv & Tobi from Germany, vocal performer Zero Boy from New York and puppeteer Roberto White from Argentina. Watching from the wings is always exciting. Very magical. The physical acts work so hard to keep at the top of their game. The dance duo did an hour’s warm up before every show.

Mind you, I had to work hard for this festival too. I prepared new stories especially for the glass factory (The Princesses with Glass Hearts) and the lingerie department show (The Onion Princess) Both of these were adult stories, though they might not sound it! And for the teen shows in Graz, I prepared a bi-lingual version of the classic ghost story The Golden Arm. And I got the German right on the night 😊

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Society of Authors workshop, London

Society of Authors workshop, London

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It felt like I was stepping back in time the other day, as I slipped inside the Society of Authors HQ in Drayton Gardens, Kensington, London. Such a wonderfully atmospheric old building. And when I found a heavily-laden bookshelf with a sign saying ‘Help yourself to a book,’ my happiness was complete!

I was there to lead a workshop for authors on how to present your work live. So we did everything from microphone technique to how to choose a perfect extract to read. Along the way we hurled socks at each other (a confidence building exercise – honest) and shared our experiences as working authors. Best of all was hearing about the fabulous new books the participants were bringing out. Such a talented group!