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 organising 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 my biggest ever school event, by several hundred people, after all. But it meant that I had time for a leisurely lunch at Blooming Lotus, a fabulous vegan restaurant where I feasted on tofu and kale and hard-to-pronounce foodstuffs packed with vitamins. In order to redress the balance of healthiness, I called at Alma Handmade Chocolates en route to the airport to stock up on luxury chocolate. Lavender-scented salted caramel is my new favourite flavour! I also recommend the Milk Chocolate Peanut Bark, which is more appetising than it sounds.
One short, bumpy, slightly green-cheeked flight later and I've arrived in Seattle, ready for my final day of events. This trip has gone so fast! I'm sad to be at the end because I love meeting you all so much, and seeing more corners of your beautiful country, but I'm looking forward to seeing Missy (dog) and Nick (horse) and hearing what they've been up to while I've been away.
Safe journey if you're coming to my last event. Things always get a little crazy on my final day, so please come and join in the mayhem if you can!
with love and best wishes
Tour Diary #8: Sunday March 10th
Hallo from Portland! That's Portland, Oregon, not Portland, Maine. I've reached the west coast at last, having narrowly escaped from Denver yesterday in the thick of a snowstorm. I was somewhat doubtful that my plane would take off in the teeth of the blizzard, but take off we did, and once we were above the clouds it was sunshine all the way over the Rockies. It was very strange to leave Colorado in the height of winter and arrive in Oregon to warm Spring sunshine. I had time for a long walk along the waterfront before dinner, and it was such a treat to be outdoors without a coat.
I aimed to be super-healthy last night and ordered a salad from room service for my supper. Did I want chicken? Er, no, I'm a vegetarian. Dressing? No thanks, I like to taste my salad, not the sauce. Croutons? No, I'm not keen on them. In due course, my dinner arrived: three naked pieces of romaine lettuce lying neatly in a row on the plate. It made me laugh a lot, as I realized just how picky I am. Healthy, yes, but a bit lacking in essential nutrients.
I returned to Barnes & Noble in Clackamas today, the scene of one of my very first events back in 2007. I had a good crowd then; I had a GREAT crowd today. There were so many of you, we couldn't fit in the bookstore so I had to hold court out in the mall. This made for some challenging acoustics, as well as some rather startled-looking passers-by on their way to Macy's. Huge, huge Thank You Purrs to all the staff at Barnes & Noble, especially Aaron for shouldering responsibility for crowd control, and also to everyone who came to see me. Portland always treats me so well! (and I highly recommend the chocolate cupcakes from the cafe inside the bookstore :) ).
Like Boulder, Portland is a hotbed of artistic talent, putting my feeble portraits of cats and sheep to shame (truly, I can't draw anything else and if you saw my cats and sheep, you'd question whether I can actually draw them either). Amazing Artwork Purrs go to Emily, Olivia, Willow, Raven, Aspen (these are real names, but so exquisite they could be warriors!), Addison for her beautiful portrait of Jayfeather and his beloved stick, and Eden and Maya for their fabulous, full-colour, super-detailed map of the forest territories. I can't wait to share all your artwork with Kate, Cherith and Tui. I don't keep it all for myself, much as I'd like to!
Stack Purrs go to Hannah and Bailey, and a Terrific T-shirt Purr goes to Natalie for her gorgeous and original design. Cute Kitty Ears Purrs were earned by Lily and Paige, while I am delighted to present a Repeat Purr to lovely Abbie. Thank you for coming back! A Tremendous Twins Purr goes to Lana and Yena, who came with their sister Jie, and a very special Triplets Purr goes to Hope, Aimee and Edward. I get excited enough about meeting twins, so you can imagine my giddiness when triplets appear!
The Numerous Name Purr today goes to all the Cheyennes and Sophias who came to see me. Beautiful and unusual names, so a particular treat to meet so many of you! Heavenly Hug Purrs were earned by Ginni and Lyssa, both of whom would have been most welcome to stay with me and keep me company all the way to Seattle. Finally, a Fabulous Fiction and matching Amazing Artwork Purr go to Kelsey for her wonderful story about Greensight of FogClan. What an inspired name for a green-eyed cat! Hmmm, I may have to borrow that one...
Tomorrow (Monday) I have my biggest school event EVER, meeting over one thousand students from elementary schools throughout the Oregon City district. I'm actually a little bit nervous, which is unusual for me. I hope they can see and hear me in the high school gymnasium that we're borrowing for the event. I can be quite small and quiet if I'm not on a stage with a microphone!
My last public event is on Tuesday in Seattle, which will be your final chance to see me on this trip. Catch me if you can!
with love and best wishes
Tour Diary #7: Friday March 8th
A very busy day in Boulder today, but my spirits were given a great boost by the arrival of FarDrivingClan to keep me company. Five Clan members made the ten-hour trip to see me, living up to their reputation for remarkable feats of endurance just to hear me talk about cats. Best of all, they brought home-baked chocolate chip cake, which I am munching as I type. My keyboard is getting stickier by the word...
We had some time in the morning to explore Pearl Street, Boulder's beautiful pedestrian-only shopping mall. We got lured into a cooking-themed store by the brightly-colored china in the window, and found ourselves in foodie paradise. I know, I know, I'm talking about food again, but surely BACON-FLAVOURED CHOCOLATE deserves a mention! There were also bacon-flavoured lollipops and baconnaise. Foods of horror, every last one of them. :) I was far more tempted by the chocolate bar containing potato chips ñ trust me, this is a fabulous combination. The store also had a section of British food, including Golden Syrup (your maple syrup is far nicer, don't be tempted to chance) and Marmite, which is a yeast extract that we spread thinly on toast. Actually, I could eat Marmite by the spoonful, but I wouldn't advise that for your first try. I LOVE Marmite but my husband HATES it, which is pretty standard for this particular food. You can't be indifferent about it! I resisted the urge to purchase a jar. I'm here to eat American food!
My first event was at Foothills Elementary School, where 200 4th and 5th graders did me the great honor of listening to me at the very end of the school week, when I'm sure they would much rather have been thinking about the imminent weekend. Thank you for making me feel so welcome, and for asking such great questions. I have been asked which is my favourite Clan many, many times; I have never before been asked to name my second, third and fourth favourite Clans.
In the evening, I made my third visit to the beautiful, quirky, friendly Boulder Bookstore. Huge Thank You Purrs go to all the staff for making it another wonderful visit! The crowds were legion, and I must have drunk a gallon of water as the temperature rose. But every single person was charming and delightful and an utter joy to meet, which made it nothing but a pleasure to keep going all the way to the end of the signing line. The Amazing Artwork tonight was particularly special for being three-dimensional and totally original: Purrs go to Eliana for her 3-D image of the Great Journey through the mountains, including one determined she-cat carrying her kit. And a deafening Purr goes to Chelsea for her breathtaking diorama of a busy ThunderClan scene, with she-cats gossiping outside the nursery, warriors depositing a newly-caught duck and rabbit on the fresh-kill pile, and Yellowfang emerging from her beautifully-crafted wicker den. It was a triumph of sculpture and imagination!
A Purr for Cute Kitty Ears goes to Sima, and a very special Birthday Purr goes to Madison, who is celebrating her 10th birthday very soon. Terrific T-shirt Purrs go to Victoria (always a name I can spell!) and to Ryan, who also gets a Repeat Purr ñ the T-shirt he was wearing was one I had signed before! Ryan also earned a Fabulous Fiction Purr for bringing me the second part of his wonderful Warriors-inspired story, The Coming, but most of all, he gets a huge Special Purr for his completely home-made Warriors card game. Ryan must have spent hours tracking down images to match every single cat in the series, even photoshopping dog claws onto a black cat's collar to represent Scourge. It was both brilliant and strange to look through the cards, as if Ryan had climbed inside my head with a camera. I was particularly enchanted by Runningwind's portrait. Yes, that is exactly what he looks like!
There were some truly dedicated fans here tonight, with Stack Purrs going to Max, Connor, Kiera, Teara (who brought a complete set of Seekers, which is quite unusual and much appreciated), Charolette, and Amanda, who gave me the best hug of the night. Numerous Name Purrs go to all the Hannahs that I met, and a Tremendous Twins Purr goes to Sophia and Eliza ñ identical except that Eliza is several inches taller than Sophia, which is curious and also endearing.
Finally, I'd like to give a very special Purr to Maddie, who brought a Braille copy of Into the Wild for me to sign. It is always an honour to meet fans who have to climb obstacles in order to read the books, and Maddie was utterly delightful. I'd like to give a big Thank You Purr to the people who take the time to transcribe books into Braille, too. It's a massive task, and opens up a whole new world to the people who read with their fingertips.
Now I have to hope that the predicted snowstorm doesn't keep me stuck in Boulder tomorrow, when I'm due to fly to Portland. Much as I would love to have longer in this city, my West Coast fans are waiting for me! Don't worry, if necessary I'll shovel snow off the runway myself.
with love and best wishes
Tour Diary #6: Thursday March 7th
No bookstore events today, which was probably just as well given that I used up nearly all my voice at Anderson's last night, but I did find enough words to entertain students from the 4th and 5th grades at Prairie Point Elementary School in Oswego. There was an amusing moment in the School Office when I arrived because their recently updated security system for identifying visitors is set up to work with US driving licences, which of course I don't have. I did suggest they look me up online to check I was telling the truth about who I am, but in the end my British passport did the trick.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the 4th and 5th graders. Questions ranged from the Eiffel Tower (yes, I have climbed it; no, it didn't give me the inspiration for SkyClan) to One Direction (no, I haven't met them, but they seem like very nice boys and I wish them well). Oh, and we talked about cats and writing a bit as well. Because there are several deaf students at Prairie Point, my talk was signed by a lovely and fast-fingered member of staff. I was a bit concerned that Squirrelflight and Twolegplace might defeat her, but she coped brilliantly!
Then it was time for another game of Dodge-The-Snowstorm as I headed for Boulder, CO. No delays this time, and I flew through a beautiful sunny evening over snow-covered landscapes. Mountains ahoy! And also, altitude sickness, so if you come to see me at the wonderful Boulder Bookstore tomorrow (6.30pm), don't be surprised if I'm puffing and looking somewhat pale. You guys survive on very little oxygen up here!
with love and best wishes
Tour Diary #5: Wednesday March 6th
Oh Naperville, I love you so!
Oh Naperville, even in the snow!
Anderson's does the best events!
Because it's where I get the most presents!
Shallow, moi? :) But it's true, as I sit here, eating chocolate-covered macadamia nuts from Hawaii, surrounded by my new handmade Cinderpelt plushie, my gorgeous model of Purplestar, and a whole pile of artwork that wouldn't look out of place on the cover of one of the books. Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to fit everything into my purple suitcase...
Today started with that popular North US game of Dodge-the-Snowstorm. As white stuff smothered DC and the Midwest, I managed to escape from Boston with just a two-hour delay, to land in Chicago which had already endured its dramatic snowfall. I've never seen such deep snow! With not a flake left on the runway or roads, which is very impressive to a Brit like me, because in the UK the whole country grinds to a halt with less than an inch of snow.
I would have been devastated to miss tonight's event at Anderson's Bookstore in Naperville. This is my favorite event on the whole circuit, not least because I get to eat my famous anchovy-no cheese pizza at Lou Malnati's beforehand. This is quite literally the only pizza in the world I will eat. I wish they did transatlantic home delivery.
As always, I had the warmest welcome at the bookstore, and the most deafening cheers from the gathered fans. Huge Thank You Purrs to everyone who braved the cold and the snow to make the trip to see me. There was one fan, though, who didn't need to clear any snow from her path in order to make the journey. That's because Madeline (aka Darkshine) came from HAWAII. Yes, FOR REAL. HAWAII. Far Flying Purrs a-plenty! Madeline came to see me last year with a more moderate trip from Miami to Ohio, which is still VERY VERY FAR. But this year she and her family had moved all the way out to the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Thank StarClan for airplanes! Never mind entering the Ultimate Fan competition, Madeline really is an Ultimate Fan! And also, she has an Ultimate Mom and Ultimate Dad and Ultimate Siblings because the whole family made the long, long trek to see me. Thank you!
Madeline also gets an Amazing Artwork Purr for her close-up feline portrait, and her brother Fishclaw (I suspect that's not his real name) gets an Amazing Artwork Purr for his fabulous scene of Clan life, including a cat chasing a butterfly up a small hill. Madeline's tiniest littermate, Zoe, also drew me a beautiful kitty picture. Thank you!
Another Far Driving Purr goes to Hannah and her charming dad, who drove for nine hours to see me last year but a bit less this time. No slacking there, please! I want the same amount of devotion every year! Hannah gets a Terrific T-shirt Purr, and next time you see me eating in the same place as you, Hannah, please come over and join me. Another Terrific T-shirt Purr goes to Victoria who had customized her shirt with the fabulous slogan: Don't be mouse-brained, read the Warriors series! I couldn't have put it better myself, Victoria.
My excitement knew no bounds when I realized that the very first people in the signing line were Tremendous Twins, Nia and Ebi. Not quite identical this time, but equally delightful. A Stack Purr ñ the only one of the night, which my signing hand was very relieved about ñ goes to the lovely Jessica, who asked some great questions and also presented me with a beautiful handmade china cat painted in glorious shades of purple. Of course this has to be Purplestar! She has glittery eyes, and a very noble expression. Thank you so much, Jessica. I have cocooned Purplestar in a pair of socks for careful transportation back to the UK.
More Charming Craftwork earned a Purr for Runningsky, also known as Allyson, who made me my very own Cinderpelt plushie! She has beautiful velvety gray fur, bright button eyes, and is very soft and snugly. Runningsky also gets a Repeat Purr because she came to see me last year with her handmade Jayfeather plushie which I coveted quite shamefully. So Allyson made me one of my own. She also wins an Amazing Artwork Purr for her exquisite, sensitive portrait of my beloved Cinderpelt. Thank you so much!
Naperville is clearly a hotbed of artistic talent. My haul of Amazing Artwork was very impressive tonight! Deafening Purrs go to Alexia for her stunning colour portrait of Firestar, Rachael for her very moving pencil drawing of Leafpool, Samantha, Gracie, Vixenfur, who gets a Repeat Purr too, and most especially Sageheart, also known as Mary, who painted and framed the cover of Darkest Hour, one of my favourite books for me. It is a breathtakingly wonderful painting, and I can't wait to show it to Kate and Cherith! Mary gets a Repeat Purr as well, and reminded me that when she first met me several years ago, I gave her the warrior name Sageheart. I chose the name well, for Mary is both wise and beautiful inside and out. See you again, Sageheart! And thank you for bringing Shadowslash and Dragonheart (with her beautiful rainbow hair) to see me, too.
A Magnificent Manga Purr goes to young Breezestar, one of my littlest fans at this event, who had created a whole adventure for Mosskit with perfect amounts of comedy, tragedy and drama. James Barry, illustrator of the fabulous manga books, would be very impressed!
Finally, Curious Question Purrs go to Larrisha for asking what color is Scourge's collar ñ apparently this is fiercely debated online because of course in the manga the illustrations are black and white, but if it helps, I'm pretty sure his collar is RED ñ and to Cassidy for asking which is my favorite Clan leader. Cassidy, I've given this some thought and the answer is...CROOKEDSTAR! I also need to create a brand new award for The Question Asked By The Most People, which tonight was, Why did you make Tigerstar so evil? Seriously, it seemed like everyone who came to the signing table wanted to know! The short answer is that he was a great warrior, with loads of potential to be an excellent leader, who ruined everything by being willing to kill and betray his Clanmates for the sake of his ambition.
It was a long night, and Thank You Purrs go to the everyone who stayed until the very end. I hope you had safe, speedy journeys home. See you again, I hope!
with love and best wishes
Tour Diary #4: Tuesday March 5th
Brace yourself, America! The tour has begun!
I survived the first day, which is always a little daunting, no matter how often I do this. My very first event was at the Cambridge Friends School, where I received a warm and charming welcome from Sasha, the librarian. I should have guessed from the name, but this is a Quaker school, and as I was raised in a Quaker family, I felt a real connection to the staff and students from the start. I spoke to 3rd through 6th grade, and they were all delightful, with some really great questions. I was able to talk about how Warriors has been influenced by my Quaker upbringing, and how important it is to me that we value tolerance, compassion and peacefulness above anything else.
Special Purrs go to Ethan for knowing the whole Warriors series inside out and upside down (and even better than me!) and to Will and Dan for sharing their Fabulous Fiction project. They've used cats from Warriors, bears from Seekers, and introduced eagles for a three-way combination that had my imagination whirling even before I saw their notebook packed with ideas. I invited Will and Dan to come along with me on the rest of my tour, but they declined very politely.
Lunch was a real treat because Tui joined us with baby Elliot, who is the cutest, most brown-eyed, well-behaved ten-month-old you could possibly imagine. He charmed the entire restaurant, and I was secretly quite relieved Tui would be taking him home before coming to the evening event because if Elliot had been there, no one would have paid any attention to me!
My first public event of the tour was graciously hosted by the Cambridge Public Library, a gorgeous confection of glass and light with a stunning pale maple auditorium that was just about big enough to accommodate two Erins and all their fans! I love having Tui at events, it proves that there is indeed more than one Erin, plus the lucky fans get to have two signatures in their books. :)
Tidbits of my family tree were revealed, I read a short section of The Sun Trail, and multitudinous fabulous questions were asked. I'd say that makes the event a success! And so to the Purrs...
Amazing Artwork Purrs go to the amazingly talented Corinne, Kendall and Aubrey, who also came up with a whole Clan-ful of names for future use. Thank you, Aubrey! I am always grateful for this kind of help. We had two sets of Terrific Twins tonight, the very charming Claire and Catherine, and the joyously identical Jordan and Mackenzie. Cunningly, Jordan has shorter hair to match her shorter name. No excuse for getting them muddled now!
The Best Question Purr goes to Claire (not the Tremendous Twin Claire, but another Claire ñ which suggests that they both deserve a Numerous Name Purr), who wanted to know what my favourite part of the whole Erin process had been. I really struggled to answer! I love working with the other writers, I love seeing my tiny ideas come to wondrous, meowing life, and I love having the chance to travel around the world meeting our readers. I honestly couldn't pick a favourite out of those.
Repeat Purrs go to Chris, a venerable elder among fans, and to Isabelle and her lovely mom, who came to see me last year and brought dramatic photographic evidence. Isabelle also gets a Terrific T-shirt Purr and the only Stack Purr of the night. It was lovely to see you again, Isabelle! Same time next year? You could end up with a whole gallery of photos that show me getting older and wrinklier...
A stylish Purr for having a super-furry hat and matching tail goes to Ally, who wore her accessories with great panache. A unique Special Purr goes to Amanda for persuading me to relinquish my beloved purple pen in favour of her green pen of choice. You know what? I LOVE green! Hmmm, there could be a change looming...
Finally, the most Special Purr of all goes to Megan. You cannot imagine how thrilled I was, Megan, when I arrived at the Library to realize that you are continuing our delightful tradition. Thank you so much! It's like having a friendly little shadow waiting for me at each event. :)
That's all for Cambridge, MA. Tomorrow (Wednesday) I'm taking on the gigantic snowstorm sweeping across the northern states, and heading for Chicago. I could need my snowshoes... See you in Naperville, hopefully!
with love and best wishes
Tour Diary #2 ~ Monday March 4th
Hello from Cambridge, Massachusetts! Weather report is sunny and cold. Nice to have some sunshine, but did I mention it was COLD? East Coast folk are hardier than us puny Brits, it seems. I ventured out wearing several sweaters and my ski-coat, while locals trotted past in t-shirts! Don't let those sunbeams deceive you, people. Did you notice the massive snowbanks everywhere?
I promised myself that this tour I wouldn't keep talking about food. In previous diaries, I seem to list what I've eaten with tedious frequency. This year, I decided, things would be different. But, ahem, would you mind if I mentioned where I had dinner last night? Finale Desserts, just off Harvard Square. If you're ever in the neighbourhood, this is the place to eat, for sure. I say I had "dinner" there but this Place of Dreams, this Paradise of Vicky's Appetite, specializes in desserts. Yes, that's right, a smart restaurant where you don't bother with a savoury course at all. It's all about the treats at the end.
And treats they are indeed. I battled manfully (womanfully?) with the Large Sampler Plate, a feast of nine (count 'em!) small portions of their most popular desserts, ranging from fresh mango sorbet through hot chocolate fudge sundae to crËme brulee and, joy of joys, Boston Cream Pie. I know about this dessert, even have a recipe for it, but have never made it and never tasted it. It seemed very appropriate that this should be my favourite of the whole platter. Now I have to resist the urge to go back for second helpings tonight. Nobody needs that much sugar, right? :)
Today has been less about the food, more about the local history. A friend from the area visited me and offered to drive me up to Salem, location of the infamous witch trials in the 1600s which were immortalized in Arthur Miller's fabulous play, The Crucible. We had our own witch trials in the UK, of course, but the situation in Salem have captured the world's imagination more than anywhere else. In total, twenty people were hanged or crushed by stones for being guilty of witchcraft. All protested their innocence until the end. The trials were a clear vendetta against certain people by an affronted member of the community. Salem pays heed to this grotesque injustice with a quiet and simple memorial listing the names of the dead, beside a tree-filled cemetery.
So I found it a bit strange that every other square inch of Salem, it seemed, was filled with witch-equipment stores, psychic services, spooky tours, and witch-themed museums and cafes. If you can include the word "witch" in your name, you can open a business in Salem. But the people who died in the trials were innocent, weren't they? They weren't witches! Isn't it a bit mean to turn their hometown into a celebration of the thing they were accused of being, and which led to their deaths? I guess "innocent people" aren't quite as appealing as broomsticks, cats and cauldrons ñ and I happen to find the history of witchcraft, as an alternative religion, pretty interesting. But if you go to Salem to enjoy the exhibits and the themed stores, do remember that the people who started all this interest, the twenty men, women and children who died, actually weren't witches at all.
Phew, good to get that off my chest! ;) Time to practise my reading from The Sun Trail, flex my signing hand, line up my purple pens, and prepare for my first event! I'll be at the Cambridge Public Library at 6pm tomorrow (Tuesday March 6th). Please come and see me if you can!
With love and best wishes
Tour Diary #1 ~ Friday March 1st
Happy St. David's Day! If you're from Wales (tiny country attached to the west of England, lots of rain, hills, sheep and daffodils), this is your national saint's day. I went to a college at Oxford University with very strong links to Wales, and the parties were legendary on this particular day...
No parties for me this time. It's the Day of Packing! I've dragged my trusty purple suitcase out of the cupboard where it lives for most of the year. Ol' Purple has been with me for every single Erin tour, and a fair few vacations besides. It (he? she? Even I can't bring myself to give my suitcase a gender) is starting to look decidedly battered, and my husband keeps pointing to new suitcases suggesting that it's time for Ol' Purple to retire. But I can't bring myself to give up on my loyal friend ñ never lost, never released its contents mid-flight ñ so I guess I'll hang on until my clothes emerge on the carousel one by one, followed by the tatty remains of my finally-expired purple pal.
I'll also be saying goodbye to my horse Nick today, leaving him in the excellent care of another lady on the yard. I miss my dog and my horse far more than anything else when I'm away. I can Skype and text my husband, and he knows exactly when I'll be back. But I worry that Nick and Missy might think I have gone FOREVER! On the other hand, I know that Missy is blissfully happy being looked after by my mum and stepdad, with countless walks and treats by the fire. And Nick doesn't have much of a brain at the best of times, so I suspect he hardly notices that I'm not around.
I'm teaching him to jump at the moment, with a distinct lack of success. He's such a noodle. Once he's got over the TERRIBLE SHOCK of someone (me) building a fence in the middle of the schooling ring ñ OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT? IT WASN'T THERE BEFORE! WILL IT ATTACK ME? ñ he has absolutely no instinct to go OVER the fence rather than THROUGH. He ploughs merrily to the other side, scattering poles, and then trots around proudly as if to say, We made it! I got to the other end of the ring and it didn't eat m