Monday, 29 September 2008


Today is Michaelmas Day, the festival of St Michael and all Angels, which is a favourite of mine.  I love the idea of the autumn air full of angels.  When my children were small I used to make paper angels with sweets hiding under them -  I still do, but sometimes the sweets are bigger than the angels.  And we no longer have angel hunts.

Years ago, when my daughter was eating her Michaelmas chocolate, she said 'I think when it's Michaelmas, we should have chocolate every day for a week', to which I replied, 'sorry, we don't keep The Octave of Angels.'  That sounded like the title of a book, so  I wrote it as soon as I'd woked out what 'The Octave of Angels' might be.  It's out of print in this country now, but it may still be published in the US, I'm not sure.  It included a lot of themes which were dear to my heart.  And sometimes, characters in books create their own names.  Children in The Octave came up with names like 'Berry' and 'Myrrh', and I had to find the 
reasons for them.  

My first book, A Friend for Rachel, later 'The Secret Mice' has a lot to do with Michaelmas and angels, too.  
That's out of print, too, but I hope it can reappear one day.  There's something very special about a first book.

Goodnight, and may the angels keep you. 

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Today I've been in the outside doing that lovely autumn thing, 'putting the garden to bed', though in my case it's more of a hack-back, cutting back all the brambles and ivy before they head for the coast.   This means I'm too busy to blog, so Needle, a tower hedgehog from Mistmantle, will do it.

(If you don't know about Needle, you need to read Urchin of the Riding Stars.  Look at or

It's nearly the end of the blackberry harvest, and it can't come too soon.  I'm not ungrateful - 
I like bramble jam. I like blackberries.   I don't mind at all going out to pick them on beautiful afternoons, with little Hope beside me sniffing around, 
 the sun all golden and the air still warm, and the leaves just starting to turn and fall.  This
time of year we all have to do our bit.  But I swear to you, I can't get the purple off my paws, and that's not good if you're trying to make a new Threading, especially when it's a Threading for the
winter festival with snow all round the tower.  Poor Crackle in the kitchen, she's up to her elbows in blackberries. she says she still sees them when she shuts her eyes at night.  Hope has them stuck on his prickles.

Then there's the cloaks.  You'd think that animals who live among hedgehogs could cope with a few prickles, but no.  Every animal on the island seems to have torn its cloak on a bramble bush.  Why wear cloaks to go blackberry picking?  They've been turning up all day asking Thripple and me - please will you mend this for me, I tore it on a bramble?  Some of them are perfectly capable of mending their own cloaks, and Thripple tells them so.  

The sun's gone down now, so anybody who's going to rip their cloak has already done it.  We shan't have any more tonight.  Thripple lit the fire and we sat down with mugs of hot raspberry cordial and chatted.

There was a knock at the door.  There's Urchin - it's always good to see Urchin, though I don't always let him know it - with a cloak across his paws.

"Captain Padra's compliments," he said, "and could you mend this for him.  It got torn on a blackberry bush.  He says he'd mend it himself but otter paws aren't good for that sort of thing."

I was already threading the needle.  If it's for Captain Padra, that's different.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008


It's ayoung lady's fourteenth birthday today,  and I sent her The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary ~Sutcliffe.  Well worth the read, if you haven't come across it.  In fact, I think that goes for all Rosemary Sutcliffes.  They appeal equally to both sexes and have all the elements of good storytelling.   Great stuff.

Much writing time today spent on writery things - e-mailing editors and so on - instead of actually writing.  Just received my early copies of Urchin and the Raven War, beautifully illustrated as usual by Omar Rayyan.  I wish I could draw.  I'm not ashamed to say I held that book and hugged it.

Midnight. Oops, I just turned into a pumpkin.  Happens all the time.

Sweet dreams


Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Good evening!  Here's the Blog.  Blog should b a character in one of my stories - Blog of the Swamp, Blog the Impossible.  I'm Margaret McAllister, author of the Mistmantle Chronicles, Hold my Hand and Run, The Life Shop, High Crag Linn, and lots of the Treetops books you get in schools.  

Of course, authors don't really have time to blog.  It's not just that we're writing the next book, or re-writing it, for the third time, or checking proofs, or any of those authory things like school visits or chatting to bookish people.  In my case, I'm
just as likely to be doing the washing, or nipping out to the corner shop because we've run out of milk, or phoning my grown-up kids to see what they're up to.  Or reading somebody else's blog because it's a way of putting off work.  Or - at the moment - making Noah's Ark cushions for the toddler group.  (I'm rubbish at sewing, but nobody told the toddlers.)

So, sometimes I'll write the blog and sometimes I'll get one of the characters from my books to blog about their lives and what they're doing, and what they think about things.  Tess may have something to say, maybe on long winter evenings at Winnerburnhead.   The Mistmantle animals
are sure to have something to say.  Apple certainly will, and so, I think will Fingal.  First, though, I have to explain to them what a blog is.  Todd asked if you could eat it.  Hope wants to know if blogs are friendly, and Tay said it sounds like something utterly disgusting and she's ordered the maids to clean it up at once.

She can't stop me blogging.  Speak soon,