Thursday, 28 May 2015

Here be dragons . . . a new book and a competiton

It's exactly one week to the official launch date of The Dragon Path, the second book in the Secrets of the Tombs series.


In this adventure, Cleo and Ryan head off to an archaeogical site near Xi'an in China. But before they leave, Cleo's grandmother charges them with a mysterious mission; to return a jade ring to a terrible place she calls 'the dragon path'. The problem is she doesn't tell them where or what the dragon path is. Completing the quest leads to dangers Cleo and Ryan could never have imagined . . .

At the heart of the story is an old film taken in China in the 1930s that shows some very disturbing goings on.  As so often is the case, the idea came from a half-heard news story on the radio.  Film of nine old missing Dr Who episodes had been found in Nigeria (apparently by a man who makes it his job to search for long lost episodes of old British TV shows, nicknamed 'The Raider of the Lost Archives'). The idea of something caught on film that had been missing for years was the starting point for the whole plot . . .

To avoid disappointment,  I should, however, mention that Dr Who does not feature in the book in any form!

But here are five things that you will find in the The Dragon Path . . . 

1. You'll find out what the First Emperor's recipe gentlemen were trying to cook up (and why so many of their ingredients were poisonous).

2. You'll meet a Giant Chinese Salamander and discover the strange noise it makes.

3. You'll find out about the codes used by Napoleon to communicate with his generals.

4. You'll discover a tiger tally just like this one in the Shaanxi History Museum in Xi'an and find out what it was used for.



5. You'll find out which number is thought to be the unluckiest in China.

If you would like to win a signed copy of The Dragon Path and this original doodle of a Chinese dragon by me (as drawn for National Doodle Day last year!) all you have to do is answer this one simple question:

What is tetraphobia a fear of?



E-mail your answer to me at helen@castlekey.co.uk by 13th June. All correct answers will be put in a hat and I'll draw out a winner. Good luck!

Luckily the illustrations in the book are done by a real illustrator - the wonderfully talanted Leo Hartas (who also illustrated the Adventure Island books)

Monday, 18 May 2015

Countdown to launch date

It's always exciting and a little bit nerve-wracking when a new book is about to come out. The Dragon Path, Book Two of the Secrets of the Tombs series, will be on its way to bookshops and libraries very soon - June 4th to be precise. I hope that readers of The Phoenix Code will enjoy following Cleo and Ryan on their next adventure. This time they are heading off to China, where all kinds of mystery and peril - both ancient and modern - awaits them.

Last year I was lucky enough to visit to carry out research for the book. Here I am taking notes as I look out over the breath-taking sight of the terracotta army -  thousands of life-size clay warriors who were buried with the First Emperor in the second century BC.


There was absolutely no way I could resist setting a scene here!

I'll be adding lots more background information about the book over the next few weeks. But for now, I'll leave you with this picture as a cryptic clue to the action in the book. All these objects have a part to play . . .



And if you are anywhere near Cambridge on 13th June, please do come and join us at the brilliant Heffers Children's Bookshop for a launch event. There will be readings and signings and craft activities and cakes of many kinds!