The book I am writing this month is about two children from today who have an encounter with Roman London.
That was something I needed to research properly. So I decided to do what schools do: go on a trip. To visit the Museum of London and the nearby ruins of London’s amphitheatre.
A Roman Amphitheatre is a stadium that was used for gladiators fights and also where animals were released where they fought to the death. Not a nice place. But that was what people liked to watch in stadiums 2000 years ago.
There is one in London. Underneath the Guildhall Museum.
These days we like to watch sport like athletics, football and rugby. That is what my story is about. A modern stadium and an ancient amphitheatre. It’s going to be called Dark Arena and the action includes settings of a modern football stadium and the amphitheatre ruins that I mentioned above.
You might not think it looks much like a fort, but it was built roughly 4000 years ago, so it is going to have weathered a bit. That’s because it was built out of ramparts of soil and with wooden posts along the tops. All the wooden posts have rotted away now, but the three rings of ditches and raised ramparts are still really visible. You can see if from above here:
Visiting a place like this is realy important to help me get a story right. By going there I found out it was huge. The middle section is as big as a football pitch. I also saw that a farmer uses it to graze his or her sheep on. Who would have thought an ancient monument would be covered in sheep? But, actually it’s a good idea. What better way to keep the grass short? It would be quite hard to mow.
When I got home I had a look at a book I have about the Iron Age. I’ve made a short video about the book and how it helped me. You can watch that here:
This autumn I will write three short novels for children. They will be a blend of football, ghost fear and history. KS2 history to be precise. To be published by Barrington Stoke in 2017.
The very rough idea is that a girl (Nadiya) and boy (Seth) discover football-related hauntings and have to use their knowledge of KS2 history to stop the hauntings causing havoc in local communities.
The three periods covered in the trilogy will be the Iron Age, the Romans and the Anglo Saxons/Vikings.
This all means lots of research around those subjects. And planning. Which is good. I get around the country a lot visiting schools. I love research. And I love planning.
Now – informed by this awesome map – I will be dropping in on some amazing historical sites to help me do just that.
For instance, as you can see below, last week I went to a massive Iron Age fort in Cornwall. (More about this in the next blog.)
I am hoping to do some short films from some of the sites. Also, if schools want to comment on my research and planning, I’d be delighted. I will be covering Iron Age, Romans, Saxons and Vikings from now until December.