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A good half term read
Remember the scrapes and adventures of your youth? If not, this delightful story by Chipperfield author Lucinda Williams will transport you back to a time when your summers were full of building go-karts, growing sunflowers, rummaging in junk shops and looking after pets.
When Emily's mum has to go to hospital she's farmed out to stay with The Pinks - Gertie, Bert and their children Laura and Harry, not to mention a menagerie of animals and Uncle Wilf, who ships up at the house one rainy night with his parrot, Autolocus in tow. Unwittingly, another mysterious guest has also tagged along - the fearsome pirate ghost, Tobias, who is never far from his next exciting voyage.
Born in Hong Kong, Lucinda spent her early years living in Sydney, Australia.
Educated in England and Scotland, Lucinda went on to work in London and Rome, before settling in rural Hertfordshire with her husband. Autolocus and the Pirate Ghost is her first full-length novel, which began as a story told to amuse her children on the school run and has developed over the years – she now reads it to her four grandchildren.
“I’ve always liked making up stories,” says Lucinda. “I did some creative writing classes in Watford a few years ago, but latterly, I've been taking it more seriously.”
Although entirely made up, Lucinda admits that certain characters in her book resemble real-life people, if only physically.
“It started with Gerty Pink. When I was taking my children and their friends to St Paul’s Primary School and then the older ones on to Abbots Hill School, there was a lollipop lady who would stand at the bottom of the hill,” recalls Lucinda. “She was a large lady with red hair and she’d always be talking to this thin woman, who never said anything but just stood there listening absolutely spellbound.
“I always wondered what on earth the lollipop lady could be saying that could be so exciting and it started me thinking.”
Just as she’d leave the stories on a cliffhanger at the school gates, Lucinda now leaves every chapter dangling so you’re eager to read more.
My 11-year-old son and I have been thoroughly enjoying Lucinda's story, we have had to read three or four chapters at a go and even then can’t wait for the next night. Luckily, there’s a sequel coming, which is good news as we’ve come to regard the characters as friends.
Lucinda will be signing copies of the book on Friday, March 2 at St Nicholas House (St Paul's School), The Common, Chipperfield.
Autolocus and the Pirate Ghost is out now, price £6.99. Available from Waterstone's Watford or ask your local bookshop to order a copy.