Wednesday, August 7, 2013

BritLit - Hiking in the Wistman's wood


   We thought getting to meet the author of Here Lies Arthur, Philip Reeve was so awesome, even more exciting was spending the whole afternoon with him hiking in the Wistman's Wood and having lunch.. He's such an animated British gent. We loved hearing his stories about creating characters that are the underdogs and later seeing our pictures on HIS blog (click here).

 This group of mossy trees has inspired not only Philip Reeve, but according to him, Tolkien hung out there and the set creator for Lord of the Rings, too. There's no telling how many creatures have lurked in these rocks. In the book Here Lies Arthur, the characters Gwynn, Myrddin, and Arthur are often popping out of mossy groves or hiding behind trees. 

     Not only did we hike with Philip, he also brought his lively illustrator, Sarah McIntyre. We loved her, too! She stood out like a poppy in the grove with her bright colored clothes and funky red glasses. She really surprised me when I asked her to draw a picture in my journal and she drew me! Not only that, she took pictures of the postcards I painted and posted them on HER blog(click here). (mind you, my skills have not improved since kindergarten)

     We also had lunch with them and were able to ask all kinds of questions. What was so interesting is that Philip talked about how he has to really make an effort to stay connected with the business people in writing and what a challenge it is when you live such a remote place as Dartmoor, England. Whereas, Sarah lives in London and often goes to parties with publishers, writers, and other illustrators. They make such a great team. We got a sneak-peak at their next book - Oliver and the Seawigs and Sara's hilarious "sea-monkey" drawings. You've got to visit their blogs and see their British Comic-Con promotion - Hilariousity! I can't wait until it comes out in the US!

  Here Lies Arthur is such a fun book for middle-schoolers on up to adults. Philip Reeve rocks Arthurian legend by portraying Arthur as a tyrant with a "spin-doctor" for a partner - Myrrdin (Welsh for Merlin). Myrrdin has everyone believing Arthur is blessed with magical powers and sets up events that everyone believes are "from the gods". The most fun was when he had Gwynna become "the Lady of the Lake" and present him with his magical sword "Caliburn".  The story is told by Gwynna, Myrddin's adopted servant-girl. A bit of an actor herself, she often switches her dress and personality from Gwynna to Gwyn the servant-boy when it serves her. She's able to join battles and travel and finds she prefers the fun life of Gwyn to the dull girlie-duties expected of her when she's employed by Genevieve. Knowing how Myrrdin works on Arthur's behalf, she sees Arthur for the no-good double-crosser that he is and tries to save the villagers from his staged counter-attack. We asked Philip why he wrote Arthur in such an opposite light and he said it was because he wanted to write about Arthur, but the world didn't need another Arthur-hero story. The different take on the legend, combined with amazing settings like Bath, the lake, and the woods and characters that are a bit off-kilter all work together to make a great adventure.



  1. Great to meet you, and thanks for the lovely blog post mentions! :)