My Dreamsnatcher Playlist
1. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
2. The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden
3. Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
4. Skellig by David Almond
5. The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy
6. The BFG by Roald Dahl
7. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
8. The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe by CS Lewis
9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Top 10 Desert Island Reads
Calling All Young Eco Warriors!
In my 'Unmapped Chronicles' series, our world is on the brink of chaos: storms are raging, animals and plants are nearing extinction, oceans are drying up & ice caps are melting. I wish these were imagined scenarios but they're not. From climate change to plastic waste, overfishing to deforestation, our planet is in trouble and it needs YOU to help it...
We're far more likely to stand up and protect something though if we feel passionate about it. So, first of all, fall in love with nature:
- Read about the wild. For adventure stories set in the natural world, try books by Piers Torday, Lauren St John, Katherine Rundell, Sarah Driver, Jasbinder Bilan, Gill Lewis, Nizrana Farook, Nicola Davies. For nonfiction: Jess French, Ben Garrod, Katie Daynes, Clive Gifford
- Look at wildlife photography. Google David Yarrow's magnificent animal photos or visit The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at The Natural History Museum in London
- Subscribe to a wildlife magazine (Wildlife Watch magazine and Nat Geo Kids are both great)
- Get out and explore the natural world. Climb trees, build dens in the woods, swim in a river, hike up a mountain. And if you want ideas for one wild thing to do every single day of the year, get a hold of Lucy McRobert's book '365 Days Wild'
And here you go for my Top Eco Warrior Tips:
- visit www.Authors4Oceans.org & sign the pledge which lists simple ways you can reduce your use of plastic & help save our oceans
- Host a 'Go Wild with Born Free' fundraiser. You can download free posters to promote your event from www.bornfree.org.uk. Every penny you raise will help Born Free care for endangered animals
- Bring eco living into your home: recycle, drink tap water, turn off lights, power down computers, donate old clothes and toys
When I’m not writing, I travel the world looking for my next story, work as a volunteer for a charity called Beanstalk, and as a patron for the brilliant Grimm & Co (video here), campaign hard for Authors4Oceans, do star jumps on the top of mountains and remember the good old days when I used to dress up as a unicorn.
I grew up in Scotland where weekends were spent building dens in the woods, jumping into icy rivers, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens. School came as a bit of a surprise (lots of ‘being inside’ and ‘listening’) but English lessons were great. I loved stories – reading them, writing them, listening to them – and it was back then that I discovered worlds behind wardrobes, teachers called Trunchbull and shape-shifting daemons...
I got through school, despite being branded as ‘unteachable’ and ‘prone to spasmodic outbursts of silliness’ by my headmistress, and after an English degree at Bristol University and several years as an English teacher in Africa, Berkshire and London, I am now back to hiding in tree houses and building dens – sometimes in real life, mostly in my books.
1. To get me fired up for a day of writing: Let it Go from Disney’s Frozen
2. When I want to introduce a bit more magic into the plot: Flying by James Newton Howard – from the most recent Peter Pan movie
3. The last few chapters of my book are pretty tense and I wrote them to this song: Narnia battle theme – from the more recent Narnia movie
4. I reward myself with this song after I’ve written a good chase scene: Septimus by Ilan Eshkeri – from the Stardust soundtrack
5. When I’m editing the book and need all my concentration to get it just right: Silence (anything else is distracting)
6. When I want inspiration: BBC Narnia Aslan’s Theme by Geoffrey Burgon (possibly the most magical sounding thing OF ALL TIME)
7. Standard writing day music: anything by Ludovico Einaudi
8. When I’m tired but know I have to write anyway: I’ve Come Home from the Spirit movie
9. When I’m willing Moll on to be brave against Skull: Spark Inside Us from The Princess & The Goblin movie
10. If I were ever to write a kissing scene (at the moment I can’t imagine my characters getting to that point!) I would write it to this song: Storybook Love by Mark Knopfler – The Princess Bride
Abi Elphinstone Q&A
Abi answers your questions about her inspiration for The Dreamsnatcher