I was expecting something similar to the last author event I went to, the Garth Nix one, where we were sitting in the Waterstones cafe and having this intimate Q&A session.

What I had completely forgotten, was that Cressida Cowell and the How to Train Your Dragon series, are aimed at children. Not matter how fantastic the books are, and can be appreciated by adults, they do, in fact, live in the children’s section.

Which meant that I was sitting in Waterstones cafe, with five minutes to go, wondering where everyone else was, when the helpful cafe man tells me the event is in the large building round the corner, not the cafe. Thankfully, I made it on time, got my poster and my book, and since I was on my own, squeeze into a seat rather near the front.

Webby at The OpenOh, and as a bonus? There were some of the GoGoDragons there, including my personal favourite, Webby! The schools that were attending the event (yes, some schools are awesome enough to bring their students to events like this) brought their GoGoSchoolDragons with them as well, so there were five big ones and five little ones. It was a lovely setting.

And then Cressida herself came out, and she was simply fantastic. Just, awesome. When she spoke, it was clear to see the enthusiasm and love for what she does, and she really does love having all the kids around. She talked a lot about her own childhood, showing us pictures from when she would stay on this uninhabited island (because her dad wanted to bird watch) with her starting to write, aged approximately nine, and then giving the audience, largely made up of approximately nine year olds, advice on how to write stories, and be creative. And it wasn’t bad advice for us older ones either.

So, she showed us some childhood memories, she did some reading of the books, including the dragonese parts of the book where the adults had to cover their ears because it is not appropriate language for us to hear! She talked about vikings, she showed us some stories and map that kids had sent into her (apparently she gets a ton of letters and pictures like this and loves it).

The Dragon StageShe talked a lot about inspiration, and where she gets her ideas from. I had no idea that she was illustrator as well as writer, and frankly it just make me respect her all that much more, but she talked about how she uses real life to inspire her. For instance, quite a few dragons that she’s come up with are blends or two or more creatures. The monstrous strangulator is made up of a fish that look like a grumpy man, and another fish that has a see-through head because it dwells on the ocean floor and needs to see the prey above it. The Giant Bee eater is a cross between a basking shark and a manta ray. As she kept saying, reality is often strange than fiction, and nature is more powerful than we are!

She even, during her long talk, answered some of the questions that I had. For instance, in the films, Toothless is definately not as he is in the books. And that’s because in the books, Vikings have hunting dragons and riding dragons, but the riding dragon doesn’t turn up until book six or so. The film-makers were doing the film in 3D, and had this large expanse of sea and sky to play with, so they decided to combine Hiccup’s two dragon from the books (Toothless and Windwalker) into one dragon in the films that could fly from the start. And yes, she had always intended to have the slow reveal of the early adventure meaning more than you think they do, and everything ties together in circles and cycles.

An evening of dragonsOf course there were questions asked by the audience. All kids, because lets face it, when kids are actually excited and involved in something, you let them run with it. And from this we learnt that this is the last book in this series, but Cressida loves the world she’s created so much, that maybe, just maybe, other books set in this world will happen. As long as there are dragons, I will love them.

Oh, one more little fact. David Tenant is the voice for all the audio books. And the trailer for the last book that they showed us at the end. David. Freaking. Tenant. I don’t normally go for audio books, but I might just have to now!

After the long talk, during which I was hugging my Toothless cuddly toy, there was a signing. I managed to end up being last in the queue, but there were two girls ahead of me, around my age, and we chatted and found a fair bunch in common. One of them nearly stole my cuddly toy as well. I just think it’s awesome when people can share a love of the same thing.

So it took a while, but I did get to meet her! And I got to tell her how much I enjoyed the books, especially the joy I had of realising that there was a huge plot at work here, and it had been going on since book one. She replied that that was one of the reasons she loved writing books, to hear the reaction of her readers. I got the new book and my original, old copy of HTTYD signed. Then they stamped them with the slavemark, and I got a badge as well!

I was just so happy to have gone to this event. I love hearing authors talk about their work, especially when they love it, and I love it. And also dragons.

Cressida Cowell Author Meet

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