Monday, 29 August 2011


Day Four (Friday) in the authors' yurt, and Teresa Flavin, author and illustrator of The Blackhope Enigma and The Crimson Shard, is preparing to go into the RBS Corner Theatre for her event, (seen here with Templar editor Emma and event Chair Nikki Gamble)

Teresa has a fantastic visual presentation to go with her talk, and begins by showing covers of her favourite childhood books, the Nancy Drew mysteries. She also makes an instant impression by telling the rapt audience of 11 year olds she was heavily into Manga as a child and can still draw a mean Manga character!

As Teresa gets into the story of how The Blackhope Enigma came about, kids shift in their seats for the best view of the intriguing pictures of sea monsters and paintings of mythological characters that pop up on the big screen in front of them. She tells the eager listeners how, when she first came to Scotland from America, she would travel in the Borders, visiting as many castles as she could. After all, there aren't castles in America!

As labyrinths feature heavily in her first book, Teresa whets our appetite with several pictures of mazes and labyrinths from around the world, before reading from the chapter where her main characters walk the labyrinth in Blackhope Tower and find themselves inside a painting. Even though I've read the book several times, Teresa has me, along with the young audience, completely gripped.

As the pictures on the screen move from mazes to examples of trompe l'oeil, she explains to the audience how 'trompe l'oeil' means 'fool the eye'. The kids are very impressed by what they are seeing and hearing, as is clear from the odd 'wow' and wide-eyed expression, and are excited to find out that trompe l'oeil is one of the themes of Teresa's second book, The Crimson Shard, to be published on the 1st of October. She treats us to a short taster reading and leaves everyone desperate to know more!

The forest of hands that sprouts when question time begins really shows how Teresa has fired the minds and imaginations of her audience. Some ask very good questions indeed: Did you base your child characters on real people? (Answer - they are all bits of me in one way or another.) Was Fausto Corvo a real artist? (Answer - no, he is fictional, but was loosely based on Caravaggio.) And, the question that drew a sharp intake of breath and a chuckle from all the adults in the room... How old are you? (Answer - I'm not telling! How old are you?!)

I think it's fair to say that as mysteries go, The Blackhope Enigma and The Crimson Shard would definitely be right up Nancy Drew's street!

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