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Heroes, Castles and Chickens

On publication day of Arthur and Me, Sarah Todd Taylor writes a blog post for us on what inspired her first book - the hilarious winner of the Firefly Children's Book Prize 2014.

When I was younger my dad caught me moving the books around in our local bookshop, shuffling them up to leave a gap in the middle of the ‘T’ section.  
‘What on earth are you doing?’ he asked.
‘Making room for mine, of course,’ said the twelve-year-old me!

I must have seemed very determined, but really when I was young I was very like Tomos in Arthur and Me, wanting to be a brave hero but always worried that I would get something wrong.

When I thought about entering the Firefly Children’s Book Competition last year, I knew that I wanted to write about one of the great heroes of Wales. We are lucky to have so many fascinating folk tales and legends. Peter, whose brilliant illustrations have brought Arthur and Tomos to life, tells the most wonderful folk stories, full of magic and bravery. Of course of all our heroes, King Arthur is the best known and arguably the best loved, and I have always been intrigued by the idea that he is asleep somewhere in Wales, waiting to be woken up when his country needs him. I set the action in Harlech because while I live in mid Wales, I go on holiday in North Wales every year and visit Harlech Castle as much as possible. Standing on the battlements looking out across the sea always sparks my imagination. When Tomos talks about all the great things he likes about Harlech Castle, I confess there’s a bit of me speaking!

When I was creating my Arthur, I decided to be slightly naughty. I wanted to turn the legend on its head, make him not quite the hero the stories say he was. What a surprise for Tomos to find the great King Arthur and discover that actually he was a bit of a chicken! There are times when we all want great heroes to come and sort things out for us, but as Tomos finds, it isn’t that simple, and sometimes we have to dig deep and find the hero inside ourselves.

I really enjoyed writing Arthur and Me and I hope you enjoy reading about Tomos and Arthur’s adventures. Just remember to look out for the Chicken of Doom!