Faraway places and beautiful landscapes… Malika Kingston joined the Festival audience for a photographic adventure as the author of The Dreamsnatcher and The Shadow Keeper shared her inspirations.
Energetic and inspiring, that’s Abi Elphinstone. Before becoming an author of magical adventure books she was a teacher. It took seven years and being told ‘no’ by over 90 publishers before her first book, The Dreamsnatcher, was published.
But persistence is key and sequel The Shadow Keeper followed.
Much like method acting, Abi could be described as a method writer – her research taking her to some of the most remote locations in the world. A Mongolian Eagle Huntress inspired a main character in one of the books she is researching. “It all started when I saw this photo,” she said clicking to a slide in her presentation that showed a 13-year-old girl sitting high up on a rock formation in tribal clothing and a big fur hat, beautiful mountains stretching out behind her. The girl had a big smile on her face as she released a golden eagle to hunt. “I remember seeing this photo online and thinking, ‘there’s a story behind this’.”
Not content to simply continue her research online, Abi decided she was going to look for the girl and find out exactly what that story was. This adventure took her all the way to Mongolia where she spent time with the Kazakh eagle hunters.
Her vivid descriptions, props and photographs of her travels had both the children and their parents hanging on her every word. “I’ve seen the northern lights ripping across the sky. And killer whales jump out of the water,” she told the audience.
As she continued to speak about her adventures abseiling into caves in Brazil and being circled by wild wolves, she made sure to bring it back to home. She reminded the children that although we live in a big world with many far away places to explore, there are also adventures to be had right in our back yards. “Look up and look out. Be curious and go on your own adventures,” she said, adding: “Although our world is quite broken, and lots of things go wrong and there’s a lot of sadness, it’s also beautiful. You have to just take that and not expect it to be perfect.”
It was a truly inspirational hour, and afterwards Abi posed for photographs with her fans, signed books and spoke to everyone she could.